I’m always a bit hesitant to describe myself as a ‘working mother’, for fear it implies that I think stay-at-home mothers are not working, when I know all too well that being in charge of tiny hoodlums all day is by far the hardest job of all!
In fact, as much as I miss my little girl and look forward to the days I get to spend with her, there are certain aspects of the work environment that I have a whole new appreciation for since becoming a mother. For example:
- When I want to go to the toilet, nobody insists on accompanying me. And if there’s no loo roll, it’s because the previous occupant’s been a lazy bollox, not because someone’s now standing just out of reach, clutching it in their tiny mitts and grinning like a deranged supervillain – “QUITE the pickle you’ve gotten yourself into here mama…”
- It’s sooooo bloomin lovely and clean there! No Fisher-Price obstacle course to navigate every time you leave the room, no nagging fear whenever you move something that a family of abandoned turkey dinosaurs might be lurking underneath it…and I have never once stood in the tea room contemplating whether to drink my coffee out of a sippy cup rather than tackle the mountain of washing up…
- Lunchtime is, believe it or not, a period during which food is actually consumed! At home, Miss O spends roughly 30% of that time pissing about with her peas, 40% lobbing the rest of it across the room, and the remainder chewing on one of her high chair straps, which apparently taste far nicer than anything I can concoct in the kitchen. Everyone’s a critic these days…
- When I answer the office phone, there’s an actual real person on the other end of the line! At home, it’s ALWAYS sodding IgglePiggle, and the conversation tends to be rather one-sided; “Sorry, Iggs, she can’t come to the phone right now; she’s lost all interest in this game and is currently chowing down on a raw potato she’s scavenged from the kitchen drawer.…must dash!”
- Sometimes, you have to say no to your colleagues – generally they take this on the chin and find an alternative solution. On no occasion have they reacted by having a shit-fit on the carpet or lunging at me with a spatula (as an aside; is anyone else’s child unhealthily attached to their kitchen utensils??)
- Most importantly – thus far, not one of my co-workers has asked me to wiggle my bottom, spin around or save the day with the mystical power of aerobics (feck OFF Tree Fu Tom!!)
On a slightly more serious note, I think the fundamental reason why work doesn’t always feel as much like, well, work as being at home can, is that the stakes aren’t nearly as high. I love my job, but how well I do it doesn’t affect whether lives are saved or great injustices are righted. Whereas at home, there’s that ever-present nagging feeling that every choice I make, every mistake (and there are a LOT of those), could impact on my daughter’s development or future happiness.
At home, it’s just us; no one else can make the hard calls or pitch in and help with the toughest jobs. Equally, there’s no annual appraisal to review all the good work you’ve done that year, no promotion or pay rise, no public ‘thumbs up’ on the company blog – you just have to keep on truckin, through the good days and the not-so-good days.
But, in my heart of hearts, when I’m able to step back a bit from the non-stop chaos that is life with a toddler , I KNOW I’m doing an OK job. She certainly seems to think so; either that or she’s kept her recruitment drive for my replacement pretty damn quiet…
Right, I’m off to schedule in a 6-month appraisal review for my husband – how else am I going to get a handle on this washing-up mountain situation…?