There's a lot to love about being a working mum - the coffee that can be drunk while hot, the entire lunch that can be eaten without having to share, the conversations that can be started and finished in a single go - but man, it can be a battle some days.
Take the other morning.
I was on autopilot, having just dropped my twins off at daycare and on my way to take the other two to school before heading to work for the day. I was lost in thought, as I guess my kids were, because with them so quiet in the back, I forgot all about taking the turn off to school and drove them into the city with me instead. Peak hour traffic and freeways make it hard to u-turn, so we had to drive all the way into the city before I could rectify my mistake, by which time we were all seriously behind schedule. Arriving finally at school, I hastily dropped them off before starting out again on my drive to work, but about twenty minutes into my journey, I got the call from daycare: one of the twins had fever and needed picking up. Cursing my husband, who was away for his own work, I turned the car around once again and headed back home. I couldn’t believe how hard it was just to arrive at my workplace that day.
This is working mum life.
Sure it can be rewarding, but it can also be a complete shit storm, which makes you wonder if it’s all really worth it. The pressure of getting out on time, performing at work and staying on top of everything to do with the kids is exhausting and relentless. Working mum life may be satisfying but there are certain realities that come with the deal that all us mums can relate to.
Which of these working mum realities can you identify with?
1. The boss that keeps an eye on the time
Your boss might have agreed to be flexible and supportive in helping you transition back to work after having a baby, but they still can’t resist a very obvious glance at the clock each time you arrive at work, which is never early, compared to your industrious yet childless colleagues. If only they knew what you’d been through that morning in order to get to work.
2. The colleagues that think you have it easy
‘I wish I could leave early too!’ your colleagues exclaim as you rush out the door so you can get to daycare on time to pick up your kid and then embark on your second shift for the day at home. If your work mates don’t have children, you’re screwed in the empathy department. These same people refer to your maternity leave as your baby holiday and openly envy your part-time work arrangement, even though you’ve never worked harder in your life.
3. Dreading the daycare call
A call from daycare while you’re at work is rarely a good thing. When you’re busting your gut trying to prove that you can be a productive employee as well as a parent, getting the call to pick up your sick child from daycare just as you’re about to head into a meeting is the worst. A great boss will tell you to go and be with your unwell child, but it’s hard to feel like you’re kicking work goals when you’re heading out the door at 11am.
4. The struggle to focus
You don’t stop being a parent just because you’re at work, which means you’re always thinking about your parenting to-do list, no matter how hard you try to keep it under wraps while you’re at your job. Kids parties, play dates, vaccinations, potty training … the list never ends, and the mental load makes it incredibly difficult to focus on work tasks, especially the dry ones.
5. Trying to look professional when you feel anything but
It can be hard to appear professional when you’ve had two hours sleep and have toddler yoghurt smeared down your front. It doesn’t matter how much you check before you leave the house, for some reason, baby spew and toddler snot always finds their way onto your shoulders and is never discovered until you’re in the middle of an important workplace discussion several hours later.
6. When no one *gets* sleep deprivation
As much as your colleagues might sympathise with your state of exhaustion, unless they have kids who still wake in the night, there’s no way they truly get your pain. They’ll try. They’ll offer comparisons with you to show how they understand what it’s like to be woken by a crying baby six times a night, but being woken by a pet cat or noisy neighbour is hardly the same thing and makes you want to punch them a little bit.
7. How much you miss your kids
Being a working mum means you get a break from the kids but it also means you spend a big chunk of time away from them. No matter how crazy-making raising kids can be, some days you’ll be at your desk and find yourself desperately missing their weight in your arms and the smell of their hair under your nose. By the end of the day, you’ll be looking forward to their noise, the endless questions and the menial parenting tasks. Parenting is tough, but work helps you appreciate it. This is great news for your kids.
8. How much you love your work
On the other hand, maybe you love your job so much that you wish you could do more of it, and you feel guilty as hell for thinking it. Sure, you love your kids but your work is your passion and lights your fire, giving you energy and zest that parenting drains away. If this is you, go for it. Don’t let guilt dampen your drive for work, because your kids are getting a mum who’s healthy and buzzing, not to mention a great role model. This too is great news for your kids.
This article was originally published on Babyology.
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