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Today's compelling thought (with a perfunctory apology for language)

Brenda St John Brown

Today's compelling thought -- don't be a dick.

I haven't written a blog post in awhile, but today I am COMPELLED. I'm obviously also compelled to use questionable language, but sometimes no other word will do. I woke up this morning to a comment that hit me in all the wrong places. Kind of like baby vomit down your shirt. Doesn't matter that the baby didn't mean it, it's done and the only thing that will make it better is handing the baby to someone else and having a long, hot shower.

The comment was about "how nice it must be to be a non-working mom." Made by a working dad to a group of mom's with flexible working arrangements. Myself included. This dad doesn't know said mom's have flexible working arrangements, of course, because he's working in an office and doesn't have flexibility. This is often the nature of office work. I've worked in an office and my workdays were filled with too many meetings, too little coffee and a strict expectation of the hours you'd be there.

This comment was directed at non-working mothers, specifically, because it was mostly mothers in this group chat, although, for many kids, the mother is the default parent. (For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, this Huffington Post article is tongue-in-cheek yet scarily accurate.) Obviously, fathers may also be the default parent and they may even hold jobs that are incredibly inflexible. This isn't about that.

This is about two things. First -- valuing others. Because when I think about it, it's not even the sexism of the aforementioned comment that I object to (although I do. Let me assure you. I do.), It's that in 2016 there is still a notion that being the default parent is not "work." Even if this guy is the only person on the planet who still believes this, he's one person too many. I could go on and list all of the ways that default parents work regardless of their pay scale, but that goes down the old "Mommy Wars" track, and I frankly thought we were past that. And it takes away from my second point which is about valuing others' contributions.

In this particular instance, these "non-working moms" help out with school clubs, events, and field trips. They give up their own time to do this and because their work arrangements are flexible, often end up making up the time later. I went on a school trip last week and spent the next two nights working until midnight to try to catch up. The other mom who went along has her own business and rescheduled clients so she could go. The school and the kids were super appreciative and it was a fun day, although I didn't love the working until midnight part. But I went because the school didn't have enough parent helpers for the trip to go ahead otherwise and, well, I have the flexibility to go. Do I expect this father (whose kid went on the trip) to thank me for going? No. But I don't expect disdain either.

Which gets back to the core point of this post -- besides being semi-therapeutic for me to write -- take two seconds, ten seconds, however many seconds you need before you speak and decide if your comment is kind and/or necessary. If it's not, don't say it. If it dismisses or denigrates an entire race, gender, or class of people, don't say it. If it's ill-informed or judgmental, don't say it. If your mother never taught you the old adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," well, I'm a mother. Let me be the one to spell it out for you. Don't be a dick. The end.