That thing you do called “motherhood”

Juggling motherhood and work
Working mothers and fathers don’t need to feel guilty!

It’s a Sunday evening and for once the sun is shining and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.

Yet I’m feeling melancholic.

I have that heart in the mouth sinking feeling in my stomach that precedes the back to work on Monday feeling.

Reality with all its glory.

One of those reflective moments few and far between I might add given the speed in which the majority of working men and women are being propelled so forcefully along.

I’ve been tinkering in the garden and watching my boys play football enjoying the freedom and envying their worry free child-hood.

How blessed we were to be children.

We didn’t appreciate how wonderful childhood was.

No worries, no real time pressures, no responsibilities and nothing that couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

In fact as a kid the only worries you had were getting to school on time, how to manage to get to the next meal time without fainting and making sure homework was handed in on the required date.

What bliss.

Sitting in the garden early evening with my husband and the compulsory bottle of wine enjoying the remants of the last of the sun’s warmth I was thinking how quickly time has taken away my babies and turned them in to young men.

I can recollect so many wonderful and incredible moments that my husband and I have witnessed as our children grow.

TimeYet I feel cheated by time, cheated by the need to have to work, cheated by life’s treadmill and cheated by my own self for somehow being responsible for not making more time to be with my children.

I consider myself fortunate, a working mother business owner which means that I can choose to slip out and watch that school play, scream and shout at the annual sports day and cry when singing christmas hymns because I am caught up in the moment.

Looking at my children play brought in to sharp focus the precious moments we’ve shared as a family and how quickly time passes.

Another school year is almost coming to a close and there is nothing I can do to slow down the time, a visible ticking clock changing the speed of our lives.

Reminding us of the next pressing business meeting, an important deadline, that appointment with the dentist, school concert or a presentation that needs to be completed.

I feel that life is passing me by in a haze. I am omni-present and there, yet, I am standing outside of myself watching as I run on this treadmill they call life.

You see I don’t recall childhood being this way. I remember long summer holidays laying under the sun, playing aki 1,2,3 dreading the moment when one of our parents would shout out ‘inside now, ready for bed-time’.

Time was something we knew existed we didn’t look at the clock or our watches, our stomach governed our safe return home for lunch and tea.

Yet roll the clock forward 35+ years and here’s me the grown woman, married with 2 children, running a business, an organiser and tablet/smartphone in tow trying to keep the plates circling in the air.

With so many things to organise and manage and being so reliant on people being where they need to be at the right time and doing what they are suppose to do when asked to it’s a precarious balancing act.

It’s a wonder the plates don’t crash down sooner.

I know that as a woman or man if you are reading this you can relate to these mixed feelings of lost childhood and mother/fatherhood.

Our children come into our lives as babies and leave us as grown adults. When you hold your baby for the first time in your arms, the sheer joy and amazement of being part of life’s creation is such a wonderful gift from god.

There aren’t words to describe it and just when you think you can’t cope with being a mother, suddenly they are screaming and shouting and behaving like the insolent independent teenagers you expect them to be.

Time is a continuum it knows no wars, famine, hate or love.

Never mind about the work-life balance there isn’t one, it’s as elusive as Spike Milligan’s ‘bongaloo’. Search the internet and you will find zillions of articles on how to improve your work-life balance, how to have the perfect career and still be a great mother and father.

Nicola Horlick was the first woman in the city to hit a six figure income earner as a hedge fund manager in the late 80’s and 90’s even she admitted that it’s nigh on impossible.

But is this a contradiction?

Marissa Mayer CEO and President of Yahoo 38 years, Sheryl Sandberg, 43, Facebook Chief Operating Officer have staked a claim that the work-life balance can work and dispelled that myth.

But it’s not the same I hear you say, they are earning millions and can afford nannies and child-care. Marissa reputedly had a nursery built next to her office so she could attend to her new born baby.

Does this suggest that she wants to redress her own work-life balance?

I know many mothers who are still even though they have teenagers, subconsciously being nagged by that ‘guilt feeling’, the one that says what if I… hadn’t gone back to work.

I’m one of them.

I had to go back to work because I really did feel that it was my duty as wife and mother. I was contributing to the household which means equal status in my marriage.

In truth, I didn’t want to be ‘beholden’ to a man, it was fear of being divorced, separated, left out in the cold from the work force and insecurity that fuelled my desire or rather need to work.

Yes there was guilt.

My first born was almost 6 months old before he started 3 days a week at a local nursery and I felt that a long weekend and my time with him in the evenings I could give more to him physically and emotionally than if I had been a full time mother.

But I still wonder if that was the right decision for him and me?

When my second baby was born it was easier to let go and what I did for my first born followed suite with my second child.

New research undertaken by the Institute of Education suggests that my guilty feelings are unfounded because it has now been proven that children of working mothers do not suffer from any long term cognitive, literacy or reduced ability in maths.

“Professor Heather Joshi studied children born in 2000 and 2001 and found no significant difference in children’s cognitive ability or behaviour at the age of five if their mothers had gone out to work or not in the first year.” [Institute of Education]

Maternity, paternity leave, better childcare, father’s who are more hands on, flexible working hours, a better quality of working life and job and mother’s who are in a better state of mind along with the social acceptability of mothers going back to work were all factors in modern babies not being affected by mothers going back to work.

The Daily Mail reported in May that Lady Justice Hallett said that ‘the pace of working life needed to change to help women end the frenetic working environment’.

In spite of this, women are faced with working environments which are not conducive to family life?

The current economic climate means that there is greater stress on employees and pressure on women to return to work to ensure a double house-hold income.

In 2012, 51% of employees were concerned about job status loss. Concerns were about pay reductions, loss of say over their job. Work intensification common in the 1990’s, speed of work and pressures of working to tight deadlines have risen to record highs. [Institute of Education]

The work-life balance is elusive and is governed by how the scales tip as to how you manage life.

Work-Life Balance
What work-life balance? Mother/fatherhood and working is a balancing act.

Women go to work to preserve their sanity from singing Dora the Explorer for the hundreth time, others work because a dual income is a necessity for the household.

Some women work for the sheer freedom and independence it gives them so they can hopefully give more emotionally and spiritually back to their children when they return home from work.

Something’s gotta give but where?

Whilst I search for my work life balance why don’t you share with me how you do it? Do you have a magic mantra that enables you to balance work, children and family life.

Please share your thoughts with One Womans View and let’s see if we can make a change.

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