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My own glass ceiling

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!

 

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I’m a working mother, and happy about it!

The other morning as I scrolled through my news-feed I saw a post about a working mother reaching out to a stay at home mother.  This caught my attention; I’m all about the reaching out posts, and less about the mommy wars.  None of us are getting out of this alive and we’re all doing the best we can with what we have, so being supportive of one another and encouraging of differing choices is commendable in my opinion.

So I took the time to click through and read more.  My bubble was burst a little.  More like a slow puncture than a burst bubble really.  The air slowly started to leak out as I read on.  Yes, overall the post was in support of the choices that other mother had made, but it was still written in a way that somehow down-played her own decisions.

Ultimately the working mother was inspired by the SAHM to reduce her working hours to be at home with her own kids more.  That’s good, if that’s what she wanted all along and this was just the motivating kick up the ass to do it.  What’s not so good is if the sight of another mother walking her kids to school each day inspired guilt and made her feel like a lesser parent.

I work 4 days a week.  I love my week-day off where I get to walk my 5 year old to school and collect her afterwards.  I could wax lyrical about all the amazing Pinterest worthy crafts I whip up for my 16 month old to destroy but I’m more into honesty amongst parents.  Telling you we bake kale chips and do yoga together while chanting inspirational mantras isn’t going to help anyone.  First of all, that is not my idea of fun but secondly it’s far from the truth.  I love my kids, so much so it threatens to overwhelm me at times.  I love spending time with them.  But I have a limit.  At some point I can’t take another “Mama, what can I do next?”, “Mama, where is..”, “Mama”, “Mama”, “Mama” all while the toddler does his damn best to crawl under my skin to take up permanent residence in my body.  I’ve become very accomplished at doing everything single handedly with a hair-pulling toddler on my hip.

This is all well and good.  And the reason I can enjoy my Fridays (which involve grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning too) is because I know it’s precious.  If my days at home with the kids were infinite, I would lose my marbles.  I can appreciate it because it isn’t everyday.  On Monday I know I will be able to sit at my desk, feel more mentally productive, enjoy a hot beverage while it is still hot, eat a muffin without having to share the best bit and talk to other adults.  And I can appreciate all of this because I know my children are safe and happy in a child care setting we carefully selected.

Seeing other mothers take their kids to school every day doesn’t make me feel jealous.  Yes, I think I might prefer to work 3 days if I could but I also know I’m lucky to have the flexibility to work 4 and finish at 16:30 on the days I am in the office.  So hats off to the mothers that do stay at home with their children day in day out.  I only hope they are doing it because it is their choice, and not because the choice was taken from them.

We are lucky enough to live in a time where women do have choices.  Nobody is a better or worse parent for deciding to do what is best for them and their family.  We’re all different.  Embrace it.