“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”