Why work isn’t always a labour…

It’s been one of those weeks where the world of motherhood and the world of work come into conflict. Poor little Tichoux has had a rotten time of it, battling a vicious V&D bug at the same time as hand, foot and mouth, and all while cutting four new teeth. Of course this has meant facing up to the dreaded problem of needing to take time of work to look after her. I’m very lucky that the Bear took equal responsibility for it, so I only needed to take every other day. Even so, it’s awkward taking holiday at such short notice as it always feels like I’m inconveniencing colleagues at best, while at worst deadlines get missed and work delayed. Of course I’m far from the only person in the world grappling with this kind of problem, and I’m extremely fortunate in having very understanding employers.

If I was a full-time mum I could look after my children when they’re poorly without guilt. I would never need to drop them at nursery when they’re off par, hoping that I won’t be getting a call within hours to pick them up again. I wouldn’t need to try to sneak in some work emails while drugging them with telly. I wouldn’t feel that I couldn’t take them out even to the shops for fear of being seen. Things would be distinctly easier if I was able or willing to stop working for a couple of years.

Indeed before going back to work after Tichoux was born I had to do a bit of soul-searching. With both kids in nursery my salary is eaten up entirely by the costs of having other people look after my children four days a week. So why bother? Ultimately it boiled down to not wanting to lose the job I have. It’s a good one, with a good company, nice colleagues, it’s close by, has a car park (you laugh, but this practicality makes life a good deal easier!), and importantly it’s part time. In this economic climate my chances of finding another that ticks so many boxes once I was ready to return to the workforce are remote. Plus, I just had a feeling that the longer I stayed out of the workplace the more my skills would slip out of date and my confidence diminish, until going back to work became beyond difficult.

And since going back, I have realised how much I enjoy working. I get to use my brain a little, and it feels like life has a bit more balance to it. I love being a mum, but it is far more exhausting than working. The constant entertaining, chivvying, negotiating, mediating and pacifying – endless nappy changes and potty emptyings, the endless cycle of housework and cooking, the minutes wasted chasing children round and round with coat or toothbrush in hand. Give my a high-profile product launch any day!

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