When she saw the negative way her daughter's homework assignment depicted working moms, she decided to completely rewrite the worksheet.
When Lynne Polvino's 6-year-old daughter Hazel came home from school with a worksheet riddled with gender biases, the mom-of-two—who works as a children's book editor—felt like she'd been punched in the gut.
The homework sheet featured a fill-in-the-blank story called "Back to Work" that instructed the first-graders to choose words from word banks to complete certain sentences. The opening line? "Lisa was not happy. Her mother was back at work."
And it only gets more offensive from there:
Not cool, guys. Which is why Polvino then decided to put her editing skills to work, and promptly rewrote the narrative:
"It just pushed so many buttons for me, and with each sentence it managed to get worse!" Polvino explained to Today.com. "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?"
She's right. It's 2017 and there shouldn't be any stigma around being a working mom, and yet the worksheet is an important reminder that even though we've come so far, there's still a long way to go.
"There's not nearly enough support out there for working moms: inadequate maternity and paternity leave policies, the lack of affordable childcare, and all the subtle and not-so-subtle messages we hear—even in our children's homework!—telling us that we should be at home taking care of the kids and managing the household make it hard to not feel guilty, to not question ourselves," Polvino explained to Today. "I have so much respect for all the working moms of past generations who had to deal with this type of crap on a regular basis! I'm so grateful to them for paving the way."
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And we are grateful to Polvino for being brave enough to speak up and inspire change. Way to go, Mama!
Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter.