A lot of parents work.
Parenting takes a lot of work.
‘Hurry Mummy!’ shouts Leo, ‘Put your speedy shoes on little man’, I yell back. How is it that even if you have been awake since 2011…well five am…you still seem to be late for school.
Where are the keys, does he have his water bottle…where is his book bag?!
The office is ten minutes’ drive from my house, but factor in the school run and rush hour traffic; it takes me an hour. I arrive in a flurry; porridge on my sleeves and a hollow feeling in my tummy as I have had to watch my son’s little shoulders hunch and lip wobble as he walks hesitantly into the classroom.
The other afternoon I got a text from my son’s school as I drove to pick him up,
‘Parents can come to school tomorrow between 8.40 and 9.00 and read with their children.’
I felt my heart sink.
This is the most upsetting text I ever received. My son ran out of school in his slightly too big shoes and inherited clumsy mummy gait. Beaming with excitement through a face covered in what I think was macaroni cheese he said, ‘you get to read with me tomorrow’. An ice cold smack of guilt hit me in the face. At 4pm I could not book the next morning off from work. Gently I told him I was so sorry, that we would dress up as pirates and read Peter pan together that night. Praise assemblies, reading time, and art and craft mornings. I wish just once in a while something would be planned for parents that work and desperately want to be involved…or be given enough advance to try and book it off.
So what would you do?
Pull a sick day, risk losing a job that goes towards paying essential bills, should I not work at all? I drove to work the next morning and cried, Adele on the radio didn’t help.
Work is challenging and complex but rewarding. I like not wearing pyjamas for a while, my workmates do not wipe their noses on my sleeve. I don’t iron my jacket and often eat kids munch bunch for lunch.
Welcome to my double life…
I try and calm the raging conflict in my mind. Why do I make myself feel bad why can I not feel proud of myself. My job is a part of me, like Leo is. I love both. In earnest, I take pride and reward from my work, just as I do parenting. I went back when he was 8 months old, then a necessity as I was a single parent. It has not always been easy and somehow I squeezed a Masters in the middle.
Parents are multitasking ninjas.
I say this as I think some people perceive that when you become a parent you become less. It made me more, more determined, more hardworking, more efficient on less sleep.
I have wept over articles where people debate mothers returning to work that suggest children are worse off for it. The time I have with my son is precious.
I now work part time, flexible working, so get the best of both worlds. Or on gloomy days feel like I am getting a meagre grey sliver of both, never fully in one and striving for balance. After the school drop off it’s straight to work and after work it’s straight to school with a quick breath in the middle. I fight to overcome the guilt that all parents face but none deserve.
I know full time SAH parents and full time at the office with coffee parents. My SAH friends sometimes feel unacknowledged, their little ones unrelenting. I was going crackers at home.
My own mother, a single parent worked hard and I fondly recall playing racehorses on her ergonomic desk chair when she took me in on sick days. I have other friends who work 45 hour weeks and express in the toilets. They juggle to organise childcare and strive for family time, smothering their desks in pictures of the children.
Who am I trying to measure up too?
The perfect mother. She is fiction. Sod her.
We are all extraordinary.
Ah Jade, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I am feeling so lost now that I am back at work. I feel like I should have taken a longer maternity leave (only 6 months). My position at work has changed dramatically and I keep thinking I should just quit and take a few more months off. Anyway, your post is inspiring, I completely agree that I love being able to work, it does fulfill me in a different way and I couldn’t really see myself as a SAHM. I can totally relate to the guilt you feel, and in your situation I may have even taken the whole morning off because of it. It’s so hard. You are doing a fabulous job and sound like an amazing mother! I love your last words..we are extraordinary. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing with #StayClassyMama!
Oh darling you are amazing and it is such a pull, especially if things have changed massively since you have been away, I saw on the DM you are having an uphill struggle, I have been uber snowed under at work so haven’t been very commentastic at the moment but if you want just someone to ramble your feelings at send me a message anytime…even if you are hiding under your desk…your amazing, do what is best for you and make sure no one puts too much on you xxx
Thanks Jade I may take you up on this! Been so stressful uuuggghh
I really feel for you honey..she says from her desk at work having only slept 4 hours….big love xxx
I definitely recognise all those feelings. I was hoping it would get easier when Piglet goes to school, but sounds like it won’t. Argh! #tribe
You are amazing and I have said before I totally respect your kick ass working mummyness!xxx
YES bloody sod her!! I made the tough decision to go ft when Archie was three and that fictional perfect mother has been chiming in my ear ever since. On tough days, it’s so hard. The guilt is palpable. But I have always known if struggle to be a stay at home mum. And pt was nice, but I felt pulled in lots of directions. No scenario is without guilt or difficulties! #brillblogposts
Its crappy that whatever choice we make there is no good option, or socially good option when really we are kicking ass whatever choice…puts guilt in a box and stamps on it…xx
That was such bloody short notice and so unfair!!! I hope he enjoyed reading like pirates xxx
The no notice thing is infuriating!
Love the comment about parents multitasking skills.
It’s a hard balance to try and strike but I won’t deny the small pleasure of not being harassed for milk (and then cleaning up said milk) all day.
It was only yesterday I noticed my work suit has a big dried baby milk stain on the back.
Haha I have found a Lego wolverine in my work trousers before! It is nice to feel like an adult for a while..we are indeed multitasking ninjas…x
I recognise so much of what you’ve written here and I have also gone part time for the same reasons. My son is 19 months old but I wanted to make sure that when he is older I can do the sports day, assemblies, concerts and parent evenings. I enjoy my job and like the freedom it gives me but on the days where he is ill and is left with family, I feel so guilty for leaving him as often all he wants is to snuggle. It was particularly bad when I first went back to work after maternity leave as he would cry his eyes out at being separated from me. It’s really hard to get the balance right. #brillblogposts
I think we do the best we can and it feels awful when they cry, my little man is 5 and still gets separation anxiety but then they don’t understand about bills etc and that we are working for them as much as ourselves so they have opportunities in the future 🙂 x
Lovely post. I am a stay at home parent but I can understand your viewpoint. It must be difficult to WANT to do those things, but not be able to do those things. Maybe a letter/email to the school suggesting once every so often something be planned for an afternoon?
Hey lovely I think that’s a very good idea, was going to sit with the teacher and see or plan a time in advance that I can come in and read with him, would be really special for both of us xx
It would be 🙂 I’m lucky in the sense that I am able to be a stay at home mum at the moment but I have friend who work and I know they really struggle with finding time or getting the time off work for small activities similar to this. I’m sure the school would be happy to meet with you if you asked them too xx
Oh this tugged at my heartstrings a lot – talk about plates in the air. Currently on maternity leave with number 2 but I found it so difficult to acclimatise to having two effectively part time roles in life – slightly half arsed employee desperate to get back into her career, and guilty mummy always falling that little bit short. God knows what it’ll be like when I go back in January as I’ll also be going for chartership which means even more demands on my time. All for the greater good but a really tough few years, hey. Well done on the Masters! X
You sound frigging amazing, two little ones hats off to you I can just about juggle one…it is hard having so many different roles…so many different faces at 8am you are watching iggle piggle and making train sounds trying to feed your LO and at 10am you are suited and making presentations lol…its like Dorothy leaving Kansas to go to Oz…x
Haha thank you. I know – interchangeable corporate and parenting hats are bloody hard work to juggle! I have got a beautiful pair of ruby slippers now I come to think of it ? xx
We are all extraordinary I couldn’t agree more. Balance is tough and I know I’ll find it hard to get right, but whatever I do manage I know it’ll be trying my best just like every other mama out there! 🙂 #stayclassymama
Defiantly and all those mummies do what they can and do things differently, we just keep swimming (finding Nemo is big in our house at the moment!) x
Well, firstly can I say I’m very pleased your colleagues dont wipe their noses on your clothes. That would be a matter for HR.
I know what you mean though..the amount of letters that come home from School about plays, or sports days, or cake sales..its so hard to keep up. I’m lucky that my boss is flexible and I work close to School so am able to dash up and show my face. Its hard though #brillblogposts
My boss is lovely and is really good on days where little man is ill and I have to take the day off as have no family to help, I think I was unprepared for the enormity of school! Plays, bake sales, disco’s, reading days, bahhhhhh xx
Ahh your post made me smile. Although Little Button doesn’t start school just yet, I have been worried about how I am going to handle all the parent days, assemblies and what-not. My mum was a stay-at-home-mum and is a strong believer that I need to be there for all those little things. Yikes!! It’s a juggling act but yes, we are all extraordinary 🙂 #StayClassyMama
Hehe school is a whole new world! For whenever little button is big enough make sure you rock the costumes..I casually made Leo’s for Christmas and in his little play all the other kids had really fancy bought ones…fail. Thank you for a lovely comment xxx
Try Droppa. It connects your diary to all your contact’s diaries. Might help. It does us.
I also work and raise 2 kids – not as a single parent though. That must be extra tough. And yes, can’t schools give more than 2 days notice for things? I’ve gotten to know a few teachers and expressed my wish to know further ahead but sometimes the school just isn’t that organized. It sucks missing out on school events with the girls. But we do what can, try to keep our sanity, and maybe get some laundry done in the inbetween!
Haha laundry is number 9 on my list, 2 is impressive, I can just about juggle one! You are right we d what we can and I think that is a lot, its recognising the amount we do that is the difficult part 🙂 xx