Working moms have it hard. They must deal with their kids — the being there and the not being there, there is the pressure of work, the house to take care of and a million other knick knacks that just make the days crazy most of the time. As I said, they have it hard and they don’t need an outsider to make them feel even worse.
This is how one working mother was made to feel after she read a narrative in her daughter’s homework. The mother, Lynne Polvino, was helping her six year old fill the blanks for her homework on a narrative titled, “Back To Work.” When she noticed the problem with the narrative, Polvino decided to edit the story and post a side by side version of the original and the edited versions on Facebook.
The home assignment, “Back To Work,” required students to use words from a list to fill in the blanks in the narrative. The story was about a girl named Lisa and her family. The story began with, “Lisa was not happy. Her mother was back at work.”
The story tells the tale of Lisa who has a terrible morning at home and later at school because her mother went back to work after having stayed with her at home. “Lisa had to get to school on time. Her father had to get to work on time. And now, her mother was in a rush, too,” the narrative reads.
The terrible day happened because of the change in routine. The story goes on with how Lisa’s father had to make breakfast and it was “not too good.” The story ends with Lisa feeling “fine” because her mother had left early from work to pick her up from school.
Working at a publishing house in Manhattan, Polvino found the assignment insulting to working moms like herself. The narrative would make any mother feel guilty, as if she is doing something wrong in going to work outside the home. “It just pushed so many buttons for me, and with each sentence it managed to get worse!” Polvino told Today.
“My shock and dismay quickly turned to outrage. I mean, what decade are we in, anyway? In this day and age, we’re going to tell kids that mothers working outside the home makes their children and families unhappy? That fathers don’t normally do things like cook and wash the dishes?”
This is why Polvino chose to edit the assignment. The edits are a reflection of the type of life Polvino wishes her children to have. In her version, the narrative goes on to say how Lisa’s mother goes back to work after “nearly a year of paid maternity leave,” and the little girl feels happy.
“The morning was wonderful,” Polvino wrote in her edits. “Lisa had to get to school on time. Her mother had to get to work on time. Her father was home on his paid paternity leave, caring for Lisa’s younger brother and contributing equally to the running of the household. No one was in a rush because Dad had things firmly under control.”
The story goes on to tell how Lisa’s dad cooked a “very good” breakfast, then Lisa helped out with the dishes before heading to school. At school, Lisa “enjoyed the play-based learning and small student-to-teacher ratio in her state-of-the-art public school classroom,” Polvino added. The latter added how Lisa spent the afternoon at a “free federally-funded after school enrichment program,” returning how happily to her family.
The Facebook post was a hit. It was shared almost 1,3000 times and garnered more than 2,500 likes. When Polvino’s friends urged her to make the post public, it attracted the attention of Today contributor Alison Slater Tate who wrote about it on her website.
Despite the sexist narrative, Polvino never intended to bash her daughter’s teacher in any way. She even wrote a comment on the post to clarify that the edits she made were not intended to criticize her daughter’s teacher or the school. “As we all know, NYC public schools face many challenges, including lack of adequate funding for up-to-date classroom materials, and I admire and appreciate all the good work the teachers and administrators do,” Polvino wrote on Facebook.
Moreover, Polvino did not send the edited version of the narrative to school as her daughter’s homework. She did, nevertheless, email her teacher to share her concerns on such material. Her teacher did respond back agreeing with Polvino’s point and she assured her that she would ensure future worksheets are properly reviewed before being passed out to students.
Polvino also wrote on her Facebook page how the teacher apologized for the sexist narrative. “She also apologized for the oversight and confirmed that it must have come from an out-of-date workbook.” The mother then wrote how public schools require more funding to invest in new material and small class sizes.
Polvino then ended this post by saluting all of the working mothers out there. She wrote, “A huge thank you and much respect to all the working moms of past generations who had to deal with this type of crap on a regular basis!” Moral of the story: Don’t mess with a working mother — she will find the time to prove you wrong.