‘only’ part time


I will admit to having a sore spot for folks who say to me:  “Oh, you ONLY work part-time?  Aren’t you lucky to have that extra time off.”  (I received similar comments when I was a mom at home with my kids).

At this point I give them a tight little smile, nod & my teeth start grinding together. I’m not wanting to sound defensive or to counter their full-time paid work existence, so I keep my mouth shut.  Here’s yet another version of the Mommy Wars.  The part-time v. full-time thing.  Why does life have to be a big war analogy?

I can tell you that most people who work ‘only’ part-time also work at other jobs ‘only’ part-time.  And if you add this up, this can lead to ‘more’ than full-time.  This is really what is called life.

I know a number of (usually) moms in the disability world who have ‘only’ part-time jobs.  The rest of the time, they are the CEO of their family’s life, including for a kid who may have many medical appointments, rigidly scheduled school meetings, and frantic calls from the principal to pick up their offspring from school.  Or there are those who have other caregiving duties for other family members.  Many people spend their days ‘off’ taking their elderly mothers for groceries, or their dads to doctor’s appointments, or spend the day on the phone coordinating their care.

Others who have other jobs, like I do – owning two other companies on the ‘side’ – one called Bird Communications with my partner and husband, Mike Waddingham, and the other my (modest) speaking career.  And yet others spend time volunteering at their child’s school, or for other worthy causes.  This all adds up.

I’m happy with my part-time, part-time, part-time, part-time existence.  I like the variety, and the fact that no two days are never the same.

I think why the ‘only’ part time comment bothers me so much is that those who work ‘only’ part-time at a paid job tend to work their butts off when they are actually at work to make the most of the short time they have there.  And, one can never assume what they are up to on their ‘days off’, but I can pretty much guarantee it is not laying on the sofa, eating bon-bons.

As I like to say, assumptions are a killer.  (Assume only makes an ass out of you & me).  So if you work part-time, or you are a mom at home, promise me that you will never say, ‘I only work part-time’ or ‘I’m just a stay at home mom.’  The work you do is of great value, whether it is paid or unpaid, full-time or part-time.  Never apologize for that – stand up and be proud of the creative way you’ve pieced your life together to do what you have to do.

3 thoughts on “‘only’ part time

  1. katharinastaub says:

    Thanks a lot for this Sue.
    I get asked all the time why I can pick up my children from school.. because I plan it that way!! most days anyway I can do that around my work and I work from home when not on the road. “Oh you’re the mom that volunteers a lot.” People do not know what I do, what responsibilities I have. Please don’t assume that I watch soap opéras all day and if I did? “Just not anyone’s business, is it.”

  2. Ali says:

    Lovely thoughts to share Sue, I have a more of a “take back the night” kinda of thought path regarding this…. There had been a number of times in the last year that my employers have pressured to me to pick up shifts or take on a more regularly active role in my work places, and while I can see the compliment in their waiting me there more, mostly it frustrates me…. Because I struggle to say no!!
    I got part time employment because that’s all I need and it’s more than I can handle!

  3. tarah2 says:

    It’s very true that all the pieces of ‘part time’ can add up to more than full. I like to look at full-time working moms with awe and think ‘I don’t know how she does it’, and hope that they’re looking back at my tiny juggling act of a life and thinking the same. Let’s keep the compassion flowing both ways, if we can!

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