I have wanted to discuss an issue for a while now but have baulked at the enormity of it and the possibilities for misinterpretation. This subject is the motherhood/career conundrum.
I have a dislike for every phrase connected with this – stay at home Mum, working mother, homemaker, career mother – nothing sits right with me.
Of course every mother is working whether she actually goes to an office or Tumble Tots. But why do we even attempt to categorise it? It doesn’t actually change the outcome or make anything better or worse.
Basically we are mothers that muddle through doing what we can. Perhaps we have chosen not to go back to work, perhaps we can’t go back to work, perhaps we wanted to go back to work, and perhaps we didn’t want to but had to...many a reason and you shouldn’t be judged or pigeonholed for it.
I can only write about my own experience and I chose to go back to work. However (stating the obvious I know) I have not found this decision an easy one and I’m sure many a blog will be filled with my deliberations on this.
Every day is a tight rope for me, a finely tuned timetable that cannot be deviated from. It all starts over the breakfast table; I begin my daily quest for ‘quality time’.
If there ever was a rod to beat my own back with then this phrase would deliver the hardest blow. Quality time...I try and engage in conversation about how they slept, any nice dreams, what is going on today etc which is greeted with ‘I want more toast ‘ and ‘shhh I’m trying to watch Octonauts’ – quality.
My husband just looks at me in bemusement – ‘why do you bother?’ Why indeed? It all boils down to guilt. As I am not there during the day I should make every minute with them count and be enjoyable and it rears its ugly head day after day.
I drop the children off and race to work. Then comes the challenge of fitting an 8 hour day into 6 hours. Obviously if anything untoward happens the whole day is thrown, I fall off my tightrope and stress levels begin to rise. But I rally towards home time and race back for dinner.
I’m usually greeted by hungry, hence grumpy, children and mentally have to count to 100 several times while I’m cramming fish fingers into their mouths and mine. Then the guilt returns again - fish fingers twice in one week? Honestly Claire – remember what Annabel Karmel says about preparing a fish pie on a Sunday night, dividing into 50 portions and freezing it – easy breezy.
Then Quality Time starts up again. I force myself to turn off Go Jetters and play. Yet again I feel they need to have the best of me as I have not been there all day. Fun, engaging, informative, kind, patient Mum needs to be 100% on her game and I rarely permit myself to slip off that tightrope.
I’m probably actually too much - proposing endless games, activities when all they want to do is relax without their mummy 2cm from their face. Don’t get me wrong – we always have a lot of fun and I cherish my evenings with them – yet there is an underlying problem there. I set myself such a high level of perfection that is impossible to maintain. Falling off the tightrope is inevitable.
In reality the children would be fine with me being at 50% - surely it’s better than being 100% and suddenly 0% because I cannot take the pace?
They are happy often with us just being there. What type of lesson am I teaching if every night I attempt Wonder Woman status?
So time to just be and celebrate!
Here's to all the Mother out there. Happy Mother's day!