I don’t know how they do it

“There is an easy standoff between the two kinds of mother which sometimes makes it hard for us to talk to each other. I suspect that the non-working mother looks at the working mother with envy and fear because she thinks that the working mum has got away with it. And the working mum looks back with fear and envy because she knows that she has not. In order to keep going in either role, you have to convince yourself that the alternative is bad. The working mother says, because I am more fulfilled as a person I can be a better mother to my children. And sometimes, she may even believe it. The mother who stays home knows that she is giving her kids an advantage, which is something to cling to when your toddler has emptied his beaker of juice over you last clean t-shirt.”
― Allison Pearson, I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother

When I was deep in the trenches of juggling small kids and a career as a magazine editor I loved a book called “I Don’t Know How She Does It”.

It was about a working mum struggling to keep her head above water and it SPOKE to me back then.

Now I think: at least she had a husband to help her.

I also think: How on EARTH do single parents do it when they don’t have a co-parent to share the load. I’m struggling big time and my ex has the kids three days a week.

Yesterday pushed a few buttons. I didn’t sleep well, hustled into the office via a mailbox delivery to my ex’s place of the youngest’s homework and orange clothes for Harmony Day, listened to a message on my phone from the eldest’s school about her fringe being too long (WTF FFS), bolted home after work to let the fur babies inside, bolted back to work for an office dinner (that’s the gang in the main pic), realised on the way home that I need to be at a work function on Wednesday morning at 6.30am … which is the youngest’s birthday; had a major panic attack over the youngest waking up parentless on her 11th birthday; sent a frantic message to my ex asking if he could come over at 6.30am on Wednesday; chatted briefly to an exhausted DD as he drove home from work at 9.30pm; felt my stomach drop slightly when he said “just don’t blog about the howling dogs”; pointed out that those sort of suggested edits needed to be made MUCH earlier to avoid appearing in the blog …

My former life as a working mum/magazine editor suddenly felt like a doddle.

Mind you, it wasn’t a doddle. It gave me heart palpitations and PTSD, but ANYWAYS …

I think the bottom line is that motherhood always has its challenges, no matter what your circumstances might be.

My boss assured me over dinner last night that my current obstacles should be ancient history in a few years. I hope so. I have an awesome boss (I’m not just saying that because she reads the blog …). She’s reminded me that the workplace doesn’t have to be a place of fear and self-loathing.

The stress of juggling single motherhood and full-time work may be high, but I feel very lucky to have stumbled across my current career situation. I am blessed to have co-workers and management who are supportive and kind and encouraging. It means that while I might wake some mornings feeling low, I walk into the office and feel energised by my work and the people around me … oh, and by coffee. God bless my late-in-life discovery of flat whites.

What would you do if your daughter’s (public) school called to discuss her fringe?

Song of the day: Devo “Going under”

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10 thoughts on “I don’t know how they do it

  1. you say ‘what fringe’?
    isnt her hair long at the front??? ie no fringe…

    dont get me started on schools & their abject stooopidity… & in our case run by a pathetic piece of crap who must be hitler reborn…
    infact, my ‘response to naughty parent letter’ finished with ‘in abject disgust…’

  2. Stand your ground and tell the school to back down. In the big scheme of things, a long fringe is of utterly no consequence. If it’s a safety thing in a lab or kitchen or a workshop she can pin it back in that class. But really? A phone call about a fringe? Use the excuse to get on your high horse and tell them all the reasons why your daughter is a credit to their school. Parents get calls about kids who hurt others in the playground, about kids who take drugs or bring knives to school, about pregnant teens and life threatening behaviour. Take the opportunity to vent. That school needs perspective.

  3. If that’s the worst of their worries about her, say “well done” to yourself and offer to send in a bobby pin (note, I do not say “use a bobby pin”.

  4. Tell the school that their fees are so high, you can’t afford to pay a hairdresser to cut her fringe!
    BTW…what’s with the obvious gender imbalance at your workplace?! 🙄🤔😂

    • They are saying she was almost run over because she can’t see, but she’s denying it! Dunno about the gender imbalance, blokes hardly ever apply for the jobs.

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