Tag Archives: working mother

The deafening sound of a silent blog

Would silenceyou believe it’s taken me about three weeks and at least 12 failed attempts to actually sit down and write on my blog? I’m not even sure I can call it my blog anymore, as it’s probably disowned me due to terrible neglect.

I imagine my blog sitting on the top of my computer monitor, swinging its legs and waving its arms around at me each time I’m sitting down bashing away at the keyboard, doing anything but blogging.

“Shhh!” I say. “I’ve got nothing meaningful to say to you yet.”

Or.

“Shhh! You’re a reminder of when I had time to sit down and gather my thoughts in such a way that they were worthy of sharing.”

Or.

“Shhh! Everyone is writing really articulate blogs and I just..can’t..put..words..good..together.”

But today I have found a sliver of time to sit down and check in.

Today I have raced out of the office to pick up my son from school because he was looking very green and complaining of a headache and sore tummy. And for once, I didn’t grab some work to bring home with me.

So here I am. He’s tucked up in bed asleep and I have a house to myself – for a bit.

Now…what shall we talk about?

 

 

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The green eyed monster

To the stay-at-home Mums in my suburb (warning: contains bitterness borne out of jealousy):

I’m jealous.

I’m jealous that you seem to have all the time in the world in the morning to get yourself dressed and your little cherubs ready for school. You don’t know that the house you all walk past with the white car in the driveway contains a woman who is only just stepping in to the shower, after having a miserable morning dealing with tired children, when she should be heading to the school drop off.

I’m jealous that you get to walk your children to school in the morning sunshine, sharing lovely jokes and enjoying some special bonding moments. I see you all as I am driving past, cursing the 40km/h speed zone because I am once again running late to get my children to school and then to get myself to work on time.

I’m jealous that you al seem to have the time to chat to each other once school starts, keeping yourselves up to date with all the latest school events. Meanwhile, I am the one who arrives at school with the only children who are not dressed up in yellow for some fundraising event; causing us all to hop back in the car, race in to the house, get changed and race back to school. Of course, then I have to walk the hall of shame to the School Office to sign my children in, as they are so late and have missed the roll.

jealousI’m jealous because I assume you always have the house running smoothly, and there are always freshly made healthy snacks for the children to eat when they get home and a nutritious dinner on the boil, ready to be served at the sensible time of 5.30pm – leaving plenty of time for some family togetherness. I think of you as I walk in the door at 6.15pm and head straight to the kitchen to whip up a meal that only takes 10 minutes to cook so we can fit in bath time and a book before bed.

I’m also thankful that you answer my panicked texts at 8.15am when I need to know if today is the day the children are heading off to the excursion; or to check if it is Nude Food Day, and therefore whether I need to un-Glad Wrap their lunches.

I’m thankful for your sweet smiles of understanding as I arrive at school in a mad flap because I have dropped one of the many balls I try to keep up in the air.

Please forgive my steely looks as I see you walk past my house in the morning, assuming (wrongly) that you haven’t a care in the world, while I feel like the world is on my shoulders. It’s only because I am jealous…and tired.

A holiday from my life

In about two hours, my holidays will be up. For the past week and a bit, I have been on leave and it has been pure, unadulterated bliss!

I am normally a full time working mother and my normal life is busy, busy, busy. So having Old-Suitcase-with-Travel-Stickers2this time off from work has been amazing!

I have been able to walk the kids to school and back; to prepare healthy snacks for them when they got home; and to spend time with them to chat about their day. It has been extra special because my little boy started school this year.

The highlights:

A quiet house

How nice is it to walk in to an empty, quiet house?

Oh, joy! The air almost tingles with peace and quiet.

Time to myself

On average, I normally have the house to myself for about one hour a month.

And the only time I normally have time to myself is the 15 minutes from work to home each day. So being able to just ‘be’ was amazing.

No plans

Like most working parents with two small children, my life is mapped out with military precision.

But not in the past week and a bit!

After dropping the kids off at school, I would walk home in the sunshine, let myself in to the empty house and do an inner happy dance. What would I do today? Where would I go? And the answer was: anything and anywhere (until 3.30pm).

Breaking Bad

I watched Series 1 and 2. It was ace. ‘Nuff said!

Exercise? Bah!

I have not done one speck of exercise apart from walking the kids to school and back.

In my normal life, I usually get up at about 5.30am every second morning or so, to get to the gym by 6am so I am home by 7am.

But I refused to do anything that would bear any semblance to my normal life – and that included exercise.

Sure, I’ve put on weight. And sure I feel sluggish and stiff.

But in a childish way I also enjoyed blowing a raspberry to what I “should” be doing!

Yeah, I know exercise should be part of your daily routine..blah, blah, blah…snore… but I dinna wanna do it! So ner!

Of course, it all ends tomorrow! Boo hoo.

Dabbling in interior design

While I was enjoying my time in my wonderfully quiet empty house, I would take a style audit of the rooms and decide what I needed to give them a lift.

So I bought new photo frames, cushions, glassware and throws.

I moved items from one room to another where they worked better and even bought a few interior design books and magazines!

My husband can’t wait for me to get back to work so I can stop banging on about aqua v teal cushions, and whether we need to add shelves or a print above the TV. Talk about First World problems!

It’s all over now

Yes, it’s all over and it was a wonderful glimpse into the life of being a stay-at-home Mum with both kids at school.

Although I know that if that was my normal life, it wouldn’t be as much fun. Instead, I can imagine it would be more about taking the children to and from after school activities, and running errands, plus lots more!

But who needs reality at a time like this?

The Karate Kid

Don't mess with me, orright? I do Body Combat!
Just like looking in a mirror!

The large bald man stands in front of me. Sweat drips down his face and his eyes are steely.

He holds up one closed fist. “This one’s called Pleasure.” Then he holds up the other one. “This one’s called “Pain.”

And I have to stifle a laugh and a snort.

Today was my fourth Body Combat class and it’s a hoot.  What keeps me coming back is the intensity of the instructor and the absolute seriousness of his manner.

As we are jabbing and punching and kicking, he is yelling out “Grab him! Is he getting away?! Oh no he’s not! Kick him and then smash his nose with your elbow!”

It’s so non-PC and there’s lots of yelling and screaming. And it is so much fun.

At the end of each session I feel like I’ve beaten up all the people that have annoyed me through the week.

And if I avoid watching myself in the mirror, I feel like I’ve spent 55 minutes giving Uma Thurman in ‘Kill Bill’ a run for her money.

But only if i avoid the mirror. If I look in the mirror, I see a 5 foot nothing, slightly chubby woman who is very red-faced, very puffed, and very sweaty.

And after all this punching, yelling, empowerment, sweating, and kicking, I come back home to the kids and they get to enjoy a much calmer Mummy!

What? Me scary?!

I’ve been thinking a bit about perception v reality lately.

Image
Pray you don’t catch me on a bad day!

Recently at work I’ve had people tell me that I am scary! It threw me at first.  I really never thought of myself as being intimidating enough to provoke fear into grown men!

Me? Scary? Surely not. I’m a pussy cat.

But when I think about it, I think I can be scary at times even though I would like to think of myself as someone who is approachable and nice.

My scariness comes from my low b***shit tolerance.

Since becoming a Mum, I’ve noticed that I have no patience for time wasters and people that generally make my life trickier than it needs to be. So I may be a bit forceful and direct.  Sorry.

Believe me, underneath that so-called scary person is someone who wants to do her very best at work and to produce good outcomes for everyone.

So, if I am a bit direct and sound as though I am picking away at your ideas, it may be because I know I have to race out of the office in five minutes to pick up my little boy from day care and I don’t want to be late because I’ve missed him all day and can’t wait to get home and be with the rest of my family. Working Mum guilt – same old story.

Or, more than likely, I am struggling with an enormous workload; operating under my normal haze of exhaustion, and your incompetence is simply making my job harder than ever!

See? Not so scary after all, right?

My life as a superhero

Image
Have a good day at school, darling. Now I’m off to work!

I’m a superhero. 

I have an alter ego called Employee

I become her when I put on my ‘work’ clothes and apply my full face of make up. 

Employee can do amazing things. She can fly from one meeting to the next; she can write articles for the staff newsletter faster than a speeding bullet; and she can jump over competing deadlines in a single bound.

She can get children dressed and ready in the morning, while at the same time putting on three loads of washing and packing school lunches.

But when she takes the costume off at the end off the day, she becomes Mum.

Mum can do amazing things too! 

She cooks dinner  – sometimes three different meals at a time depending on levels of fussiness; she gets two squirmy, tired children ready for bed; and then reads up to three different stories with expression and perfect enunciation.

Of course she has tremendous help from her trusty sidekick – Dad.

Between the two of them they fight the daily battles of being working parents with two young kids.

Sometimes I have to change between Employee and Mum in record time.

This normally happens when Employee receives a call from school or day care to say a child has hurt themselves or come down with a high temperature and must be picked up immediately.

Or when a child receives an award at a school assembly and Employee must become (gushingly proud) Mum for about 15 minutes before she races off – picture Clark Kent rushing off at light speed while changing into Superman – back to work.

OK. I know that sounds a bit silly and simplistic (I hope it made you smile, though!) but sometimes it really does feel as though I switch into a different person once the kids have been dropped off and I go to work. 

And then the same thing happens when I log off the computer at the end of the day and I click into ‘Mummy mode’ and start thinking about what to cook for dinner. 

Sometimes my two superhero worlds collide. 

I recall a day when I was working from home as a freelancer and was on the phone to a client discussing an important strategy. 

I was holding the phone with one hand and gripping the door handle with another to stop my little boy from opening it.  He was howling on the other side of the door and yelling out for me while I was trying to keep the hysteria out of my voice. Madness!

Do you ever feel like you are two people in the one body? Do your two ‘worlds’ ever collide? 

Me x 5

Remember that 1996 movie ‘Multiplicity’ with Michael Keaton?  The one where he clones himself so he can get more things done in his life?

That’s what I think I want to do.

There is so much I want to be and do that I need to live a few different lives so I don’t find myself on my deathbed wondering ‘what if’.

The different clones of me would be:

THE HIGH ACHIEVING CAREER WOMAN

I love having a career and going to work.  I love the responsibility and the respect I (hopefully) garner and having to use my brain. I love earning my own money, the camaraderie with my team (greatest bunch of women I’ve ever worked with!) and constantly learning about my industry and myself.

I’d love to be a CEO and have great power and to be able to make real decisions.  To be a real trailblazer for women and  stomp around in fabulous corporate suits and even more fabulous shoes; to travel business class; to be asked to present at really important forums; and to reach the very pinnacle of my industry.

THE STAY-AT-HOME MUM

50shousewifeSometimes I struggle with working full time.  I want to stay at home full time because I know with all my heart that it would be so good for my family – which would be good for me. I could make sure the house is running smoothly, take my kids to school and pick them up.

I could be involved in their school and go along to excursions.  They could have friends over after school, attend after school activities and have a nicely rounded, calmer life.  Not the mad rush we have every day with two parents working full time.

THE PART-TIME WORKER

Truth be told, I’d probably go quietly insane if I was a full time stay at home Mum, so the perfect balance of part-time would be nice.  Working three days would be ideal. I would still keep my toe in the career water so I wouldn’t feel my two degrees were a waste of time , but then I’d also have two days at home to redress the balance. Lovely!

THE FREELANCE WRITER

Ah, to be able to work from home and write, write, write. I could work from a cafe, on the kitchen table, in the park – wherever. And going by the image on the right, all freelance writers work on their stomachs in the grass by the beach, right? That beats working in an office full time any day!

THE PERPETUAL STUDENT

I love learning new things.  If I could, I would study the following just for fun – nothing to do with improving career choices:

  • photography
  •  cooking (all cuisines)
  • fine art
  • English literature
  • sewing ( I would love to know how to make my own clothes)
  • Italian/Spanish/French/Greek
  • creative writing
  • remedial massage

I know all of the above contradict each other, and a lot of the scenarios are based on fuzzy, unrealistic stereotypes (and a major Tattslotto win!).

Maybe it’s true that modern women can have it all, just not at the same time.

How bloody frustrating is that?!

It makes my heart a flutter

Signs that things may not be going so well – or as well as you thought – will vary for everyone.

But for me, it has been a fluttering heart.

And not a good fluttering like the one you get when someone gorgeous looks your way and smiles.  This has been more of a ‘gathump’ feeling followed by the sensation that there are butterflies in my chest.

I went to the doctor on Friday.  She ruled out all the bad lifestyle factors: Smoker? No; Drinker? Hardly; Caffeine addict? Can’t afford to be; Drug user? Watcha got?  Nah, no drugs for me – I get high on life (and sniffing permanent markers).

Then she asked when they started.

“About three and a half weeks ago,” I replied.

“Do you live a stressful life?  Do you feel stressed?” she asked.

“I’m doing a Masters of Marketing while working full time and looking after two young children,” I reply.  In other words, “Hell yeah!”

“How long have you been studying for?” she asks.

“About three and half weeks,” says I.

Oh. Funny how I never made that connection.

There I was thinking thinking that I had all the balls in the air and was coping well.  But apparently my mind and heart thought differently.

The good news is that the ECG showed nothing irregular and although I feel like my heart is racing and will jump out of my chest, my heart rate is actually normal and steady.  Weird, right?

So it’s nothing to worry about and since finding out that I am not about to drop dead from a heart attack, the symptoms have already subsided. At first I thought I would have to quit my studies, but I am persevering.

Which brings me to the present.  It is almost 10.30pm.  Everyone else is asleep and I am up reading about ‘Analysing the Macro environment to meet unmet needs and trends’. And so far, my heart is behaving itself.

 

 

Swotting with the best of them

Well, it’s started, my friends!

I am in the middle of my Orientation Week for my Masters of Marketing.

Mind you, it’s not been like the good old ‘O Weeks’ of my past! There haven’t been any pub crawls, beer skulling competitions, declarations of undying love to total strangers or projectile vomitting competitions. Aagh, the good old days…

Instead, it’s been little old me logging on to my laptop after a full day at work, making dinner for the kids, eating dinner with the family, giving the kids a bath and reading them their bedtime stories. I think I’ve been able to say a few words to my husband now and then as well.

I am studying off campus, which is very strange.  I’m not sure if I will ever get to meet a fellow ‘classmate’ or if it will all be about online discussions. Gosh, if my computer dies, I am screwed!

My real study begins next week and I have lots of journals and chapters from my textbooks to read. I have also been sent my assignment already – the first part of which is due in 4 weeks.  Holy crap! My head is spinning just thinking about how full on this is going to be.

I wish I was less ambitious and could be content with studying something like ‘Understanding the role of the fairy in Disney movies’.  Alas, I am driven to succeed and to have a good crack at upskilling myself so I can move up the corporate ladder.

The worrying thing is that my application for study leave from work has been knocked back because my manager is concerned that I have taken too much on, and while she supports my decision, my workload is already so huge that she cannot afford for me to take time off.

In other words, she is saying: “You are too important for us to not have in the office – oh, and what the hell are you thinking, woman??!!”

She also said she was concerned about how my work will suffer with the extra load of taking on study.

Well, maybe she has a point there, because this afternoon while she was out at a meeting, I may or may not have photocopied heaps of reading materials or done a bit of research online.  Hee hee.

None of my friends can understand why I am doing this extra study on top of being a full time working Mum with two little kids.  My husband is doing a brilliant job of supporting me as much as he can, but even he is concerned that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

So far, it’s been ok and I’ve managed to fit everything in, but as I said, it hasn’t really started yet.  I’m incredibly nervous about how I will be able to balance work, study and being a wife and mother.

The one good thing is that I have discovered that being time poor actually makes me more efficient. I don’t have time to stuff around and navel gaze, so I just get on with it.

Speaking of which, I’d better stop blogging and get back to it!

How does she do it?

If I had a dollar every time someone asked me “How do you do it?” after I tell them I am a full time working Mum, I’d be able to be a stay-at-home Mum!

And why don’t people ask ‘How do you BOTH do it?”

You see, people always seem to look at the working Mum and ask her how she does it; as though the husband does nothing at all. Do people assume he does nothing?

Are we still stuck in the 1950s stereotype that childrearing is all up to the Mum? It’s strange to me that people are so impressed and surprised when I tell them how much my husband does. To me, marriage is a partnership.  Simple.

The only way it works for me is because I have an amazingly supportive husband who mucks in and helps out.  If he gets home early, he picks up the kids and starts dinner. If I have to go to a work event, he supports me.

So this is how I do it (hubby does pretty much the same):

  • I get used to pushing through a haze of tiredness
  • I drink lots of coffee
  • I push myself to do something for myself – exercise or a long shower
  • I do housework at 10pm
  • I outsource and buy online as much as I can (including birthday cakes and cleaners)
  • I don’t waste time at work, so I can leave on time
  • I rush around like a mad woman in the mornings
  • I can put a full face of make up on in 5 minutes (hubby doesn’t do this.  Hee Hee).
  • I have an amazing husband and supportive family
  • I cook on Sunday afternoons and freeze meals to attempt to make weekday dinners easier
  • I have every now and then given my kids Weet Bix for dinner!

I work full time for financial necessity, but even if I didn’t have to, I would still work part time. I think I would go insane if I was home full time. Does that mean I don’t love my kids enough?  Hell no! I love them so much, my heart almost pops.

And I always assumed I would be a full time working Mum because my Mum always worked.  I can’t remember her being around much when I was little, but she has told me that she actually worked part time when I was little.  But I don’t remember.  Isn’t that funny?  Here we are tying ourselves in knots, worrying that we’re not there enough for our kids if we choose to work; and they probably won’t even remember whether we were around or not!

I think my kids have really benefitted from being in childcare. They are social and happy to make new friends.  They don’t freak out if they spend the night away from home at someone else’s house and have learned good routines.

My six-year-old was so ready to start school this year because she had already been taught to look after herself and her bag at childcare, and to get her lunchbox and understand there are rules and schedules.

Even though they thrived at daycare, I still had many mornings of crying in the car in the carpark after dropping them when they have cried for me to stay home with them.  Having to turn your back on your small child who is crying and screaming for you to stay is the absolute worst part of being a working Mum.  And I know they quickly got over it once they got distracted by toys or other friends.  But hell, it tears you apart.

I went through it again when my little girl started school and we put her in to before school care so I could continue to start work at 8.30am. She didn’t know anyone at all and she looked so tiny in her school uniform – my sweet little Preppy.

For about a week I would sit in the car and cry after saying goodbye to her. And then I told my boss that I needed to start later so I could walk her in to her classroom at 8.45am.  I didn’t ask, I just said that it was what I was doing.  So now I work back a bit later and sometimes miss lunch, but I get to hold her hand while she skips in to class.

I asked my little girl once what she thinks Mummies do.

And she said, “work and eat”.

‘Nuff said!