Working mums aren't neglectful parents in business suits and neither are we vapid place-holders collecting undeserved paychecks. We are ferocious, capable, nurturing powerhouses. A wage gap between the sexes still exists, as does the stigma of motherhood in the workforce. If we're ever going to overcome these obstacles, we need to stop saying the following things to working mums.
1. "You have a lot on your plate."
Multi-tasking is not just a skill we possess, it is our way of life. This morning I breastfed a baby, changed a nappy, and composed a musical about zoo animals - all at the same time. So yes, I will have all of my business tasks accomplished on time. Anyway, when is the last time we voiced concern over a working father's familial responsibilities?
2. "Working mums have divided loyalties."
The job-hopping millennial in your office has wanderlust. You know what mothers have? A mortgage, a nice school catchment, and a community in which we plan to raise our children. We are as loyal to our current situation as Simon Cowell is to his tight, v-neck t-shirts.
3. "So your husband babysits whilst you're at work?"
Nothing about my husband's Y chromosome makes him less of a parent than I. He is deeply invested in the hearts and minds of his children - sacrificing his time and comfort for the sake of vulnerable people - which is the most masculine and honorable thing he'll ever do. He is not a babysitter. A babysitter eats all your crisps whilst watching the British talent pool become shallower with each talent show Simon Cowell produces.
4. "A woman's place is in the home."
That I've written this article at all makes my disagreement with such a premise as obvious as Simon Cowell's crush on Cheryl Tweedy-Cole-Boogietown-Girls Aloud-Fernandez-Versini. (That's her Surname, no?) The middle class is shrinking and the cost of living is increasing. We're all doing our best to provide for our families, so unless you have a Cowell-esque fortune and you're offering to be my benefactor, you are not allowed an opinion about my finances.
5. "Mums aren't team players."
We are the happiest people in the work place, because the office is practically a spa day: free coffee, private toilets, and no one throwing a tantrum because his milk doesn't taste white enough. You know who isn't a team player? Condescending IT girl who treats a password reset request as if you've asked her to chop off her own arm so that Simon Cowell can slap her round with her severed hand.
6. "You probably take a lot of time off."
In the past five years I have had one sick day because I have a better chance of recovery when I pop a paracetamol at my work station than if I lie on my couch whilst my toddlers use my torso as a trampoline. I'm the first one in the office each morning because whilst Harry Hangover the intern is in his last REM cycle, I am getting a 5:30am wake-up call from my daughter who wet the bed/got hungry/had a nightmare that she was in a singing contest wherein a certain music mogul criticised her performance as "indulgent" and a poor song choice.
7. "Your kids don't see you very much, do they?"
Many working mothers take the early shift, arriving home in time for the afternoon school run. Whilst other employees tuck into a bottle of chardonnay and binge-watch Netflix after a long day at the office, we spend our evenings on the floor playing trains, happy to give our children the kind of attention Simon Cowell gives his middle-parted-fringe.
For the record, I love Simon Cowell. The man is a genius with an impeccable track record of hiring mums to work under his employ. We could do with more men like him in the world.