Well, some days, it’s like this:
- you reach for the clothes you had on yesterday because your entire wardrobe is in the dirty clothes basket in a backlog of washing. You wonder if the kids have clean undies on, or any undies at all, and you vow (again) to get some washing done today;
- the fridge offers up half an avocado, a carrot and some cheese to feed a family of four for dinner because you’ve been dining out on Skype sessions and social media instead of getting the groceries (see pictorial proof next door. You’ll notice there was a full bottle of wine. I never seem to run out of that);
- the children give up trying to speak to you because they’ve been shunted out of the office more times than Kevin Rudd;
- you feel like you’ve been in a coma. You come out of some sort of fog to notice you haven’t seen the kids hand in their homework for three weeks, you’ve missed the parent-teacher interviews because the email got lost in your inbox; the floor has changed colour from the accumulation of dirt; some kind of experiment in penicillin is growing under the eight-year-old’s chair; and you’ve forgotten how to communicate with your husband unless it’s via a text message.
You know those days, right?
Those are the days when you tally up the balls you’ve dropped and inevitably failure rears it’s head and asks guilt to come out to play. Because you have struggled to be all things to all people and places.
Those are the days when you question your decision to work, or you again perhaps wish you didn’t have to. Where you feel frustrated, inadequate and overwhelmed.
Those are the days when we fit that stereotype we read about – the one that says working mothers feel guilty, harassed, divided, and stressed. We even willingly acknowledge those feelings.
But what of the feelings of fulfillment, abundance, and confidence?
What about feeling motivated, inspired, stimulated and happy by the work you do?
Because some days aren’t so bad, and there’s a reason why we continue to do what we do.
A lot of women work, either for someone else or themselves, because they want to. They enjoy it. They receive many positive benefits from it.
Here lies the conundrum of the working mother: dealing with the pendulum that swings between the two extremes and trying to make competing pieces of the puzzle fit.
She wants to be a great mum, but she recognises that part of the equation to achieve that, is to maintain a part of herself that is outside of motherhood and takes her physically, mentally and emotionally away from her children for much of the week.
It adds an undeniable stress to her daily schedule and often requires Herculean efforts to maintain not only contact but some days even consciousness (did somebody say bedtime?).
Yet she juggles, she persists, and she puts up with those not so great days because she would feel lost or a little less without the other part of her life.
What’s it really like for you?
So I wanted to have a conversation about this issue; to have an ongoing dialogue about how we all feel, about our choices and what they are are, about how to not only manage better but to also thrive rather than survive.
To dive a little deeper here than just say: ‘Hey, this shit is hard work.’
So to start with, I’m asking you what it’s like to be a working mum.
// The Babies, Business & Balance survey of Australian working mothers is now open and I’d love for you to take be a part of it.
It’s anonymous, requires no sign up and takes on average about seven minutes to complete.
Click on the pic if you’d like to take part (and thank-you if you do 🙂 ) The survey is closed now.
More than 200 women have taken part and some strong patterns are emerging.
That women feel largely fulfilled by their working life, but they are still doing the bulk of the housework and (not surprisingly) rate their stress levels as being moderate to fairly high.
That said, most feel very positive about their future.
Here are a couple of responses from women about what they consider to be the biggest positives of being a working mum:
I feel valued in the workplace – people are interested in what I have to say or offer.
Money of course, but primarily because I love my job and it is who I am.
The social aspect. Developing and growing intellectually and personally.
I am able to continue self and professional development. I’m able to contribute financially to the family and show my children that women are able to contribute to society even while being a mum.
So, what are your days like? How do you feel about being a working mum? Leave a comment and let’s talk about ‘having it all’!