Motherhood is a big job, whether you manage to squeeze in some paid work or not. But fresh air, sunshine, a good coffee and magic moments with your very own munchkins make it that much easier to get through each day.
Just Another Mother blogger, Rowena Newman, looks at how to navigate maternity leave, mother guilt…and macchiatos.
I don’t want to draw any distinction between working and non-working Mums. All Mums work. And when you look at the job description it’s clear that Mums work pretty damn hard. The only difference is that some Mums get paid for some of their work and other Mums don’t.
I am a working Mum that earns a regular salary and I confess I have never really contemplated any other option. I love my work (but just in case my boss is reading, I don’t love it enough to do it for free).
Sometimes I do feel guilty about how much I love it. But it’s that weird double-jeopardy variety of guilt, where I feel guilty about the fact that I don’t have any mother guilt.
Sometimes I feel that if I had the faintest skerrick of mother guilt then that would mean, not that I love my kids MORE, but that I love them PROPERLY, if you know what I mean?
I don’t want you to think that I wear it like a badge. I’m hardly a pioneer in my family. All my aunts and my great aunts worked. My sister works. My Mum worked and her Mum worked. My grandmother worked as a teacher in an era when married women simply didn’t work at all. In her day you had to resign when you got married. When I mention this to the youngsters in the office they look at me like I’m Caroline Chisolm. And perhaps that is the best possible evidence of the progress that we’ve made.
Or maybe I am just old? I got the same blank faces recently when I mentioned the 1977 referenda in which Australia decided to change the National Anthem from God Save the Queen. Surely this was a truly pivotal moment in Australia’s nationhood? I am literally brought to tears when I hear my children standing proudly in assembly singing “our home is dirt by sea.” Ah.
It’s a beautiful, poignant thing and along with other funny turns of phrase, like bikeling instead of cycling, I can’t bring myself to correct them. The privilege and joy of motherhood is so potent that we have no qualms about doing all that stuff we do, gratis.
And please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but RESPECT for “non-paid” working Mums and Dads. The days I don’t go to the office are a crazed, harried, hectic blur of chauffeuring, chores, appointments, protracted negotiations with tiny terrorists, counseling and mediation sessions for the victims of aforementioned terrorism and all set to the continuous loop sound-track of Disney’s Frozen.
Let it Go, indeed. For me that is SO much harder than a day at the office. Even though my working day usually starts (after the epic double drop-off) as I slide sideways into my office chair with hair askew, laddered stockings and already half an hour late for my first meeting, I am much more able to grab hold of my inner sense of peace when I am at work.
Some people find their zen in the bath, in the yoga studio or pounding the pavement. I find my zen astride a roller chair staring down the barrel of a powerpoint deck.
And so all this serves to explain that I feel privileged to be a mother to my funny little munchkins and to share their journey. And I feel grateful to the women who have gone before me and made it possible to be a mum who is paid to do the kind of work that I love.
Although we’ve come a long way since Caroline Chisolm, it is still a daily juggle and mostly it’s not particularly pretty. I’m definitely not winning any awards from Good Housekeeping, but that’s OK.
When I think about it there are a few things that are absolutely essential to sustaining the life that I’ve chosen. Child care options. Good coffee. Healthy food options. Flexibility to better manage the commute. Sunlight. Flexibility to fit in some exercise. Did I mention good coffee? Flexibility to attend the occasional school assembly or sports day. Fresh Air.
And a concierge service to help me to organize my life by way of buying and wrapping birthday and Christmas presents, paying bills, the research and admin to work out which broadband plan to change to (and why not add health fund, energy and mortgage to that part of the job description). Oh yeah and holidays.
How great would it be to be able to specify a holiday type (beach, adventure, skiing), a demographic (for all the family, kid-centric, adults only), travel time and a budget and be presented with a range of options? I can out-source all the other non-value add elements of life.
Forget about ‘dial-a-hubbie’ where on earth can I find a ‘rent-a-wife’? Oh and don’t forget good coffee.
Rowena- Just Another Mother