A promotion!!! I looked at the email more closely. This was great news; long-awaited and hard earned news. So why was my first feeling that of panic?
Child-care arrangements, that’s why. A myriad of hypothetical situations raced through my mind, crashing into one another and causing a traffic jam of worry.
What was I thinking I berated myself? Weren’t things ticking along nicely as they were; our lives were plodding along predictably enough, did I really need to upend the apple cart just for a promotion? If you’re a mother, chances are that last self probing question has you nodding your head in understanding. If you are a father, you are more likely baffled at its existence.
I don’t think men and women are from different planets but I do think mothers take on a lot more of the invisible parenting burdens. Mothers who work outside the home are more likely to work part-time, have job sharing arrangements, take parental leave and career breaks. In other words, our working careers take a back seat to our parenting career. Fathers appear to not be as affected career wise by the pitter patter of little feet at home.
I needed to talk myself into accepting an upward move in work – what father would look past the increased salary, extra annual leave etc. and only see the headache of sick children, parent teacher appointments and other such considerations? I felt robbed of future opportunities to be more readily available to my children simply by being presented with a wonderful career opportunity. I hadn’t even replied to the email at this point yet I was already worrying about making phone calls to new managers when a little person had been vomiting all night…
I have heard plenty about the Glass Ceiling that can halt female progress in the working world in some instances. I can only speak for myself and while initially it felt that I was the one putting obstacles in my own path, in reality those obstacles just shouldn’t even exist in the first place. Yes, I was worrying about getting to pick the kids up at the time that suits us all best and wondering how they would feel if they were in their daycare twenty minutes longer a day. But why did I have to feel like that?
I needed to give myself a stern talking to in order to accept an upward move in work – what father would look past the increased salary, extra annual leave etc. and only see the headache of sick children, parent teacher appointments and other such considerations? I felt robbed of future opportunities to be more readily available to my children simply by being presented with a wonderful career opportunity. I hadn’t even replied to the email at this point yet I was already worrying about making phone calls to new managers when a little person had been vomiting all night…
Fate was clearly idle the weekend before I reported for duty on my first morning in my new role, as nothing but an evil sense of humour would have inflicted a vomiting bug on my little family. The toddler went down first, and we were still hopeful it was a one off. Optimism waned as my husband succumbed to the intruder and I was slain by Saturday night. There’s nothing like a good old virus induced stomach purge to take your mind off the daunting idea of a new job…
My most pressing concern wasn’t that I would still be ill on Monday morning, but that my daughter was going to be sick too and not able for school. And sure enough, she wasn’t well and alternative plans had to be put in place for two days. She ended up having to go see our GP and it was the first time in her six years on the planet that I didn’t accompany her. However, I have decided to bin the guilt (well it’s a work in progress). She managed perfectly fine with my parents and husband tag-teaming but it still felt to me like they were picking up my slack. I doubt my husband has ever felt that way when I’ve taken care of sick little ones when he’s been in work.
So it was with a slightly green complexion, an absent appetite and phone tightly watched for updates that I ventured into my new work place last week. Everyone is now well and I am hopeful that my second week will be less eventful!