Let's talk about juggling work and motherhood...
I’ve written about going back to work post baby and about career changing but never about the daily logistical nightmare that many of us face as working mothers. There are so many issues surrounding motherhood and work; some are archaic and are ingrained in society and there are those that many of us voluntarily claim as our own. I know so many women who often work long into the night because they left work ‘early’ to collect their tinies. So many feel guilty or that they’ll be judged if they don’t achieve everything that they did before they obtained their other full time job of parenting, to run in tandem with a career.
Honestly, being a working mother can be hard. When I returned to work after maternity leave I was a Director in a medium size company and I loved my job, I took it seriously. My anxiety used to peak daily when I was living in London and trying to leave work at 5 (I worked through lunch and arrived hideously early) in order to get to nursery on time. It was always a very tense hour, battling traffic from one side of London to the other, knowing I would charged some absurd fee by the nursery if I was even minutes late. I would frantically jump between traffic apps, taking back streets and bi roads to dodge every possible jam. Inevitably I would arrive at nursery exhausted, wired and full of guilt that other people were caring for my child when that was the job I wanted. I was lucky, my company was fantastic and very supportive of parenting and many of the pressures I felt were self inflicted. That said it was always tricky managing client meetings to ensure they always ended by 430, particularly if the clients were male or didn’t have children. I always felt it would be perceived as skiving if I acknowledged that I had to leave to collect my child as though it were not a valid reason. Obviously it is. I remember one day being in a very important meeting and my phone was vibrating insistently in my pocket. I knew it could only be about my child. I left the meeting and took the call and of course I had to leave the meeting and get Seb, who was vomiting and crying at nursery. I didn’t get that deal but I did get to look after my child when I was the one person he really needed, every cloud.
My life changed unexpectedly and irrevocably a few years ago and I had to leave London. I commuted from Oxford to Shoreditch for a year because I truly loved our company and had helped build it from scratch but realistically it was too much and I needed a complete rethink. Two years later I am now a primary school teacher and I choose this career in part because it works in conjunction with (single) parenting. I won’t get to take Seb to school and watch him walk through the gates on his very first day as I’ll be welcoming thirty children who will spend the year in my care and that makes me sad. I will get to spend every day of all of the holidays playing with him until he no longer wants to play with me and the prospect of this fills me with joy. I earn less now than I did when I was in started my first job fresh from university but having weighed it up I know I have made the right decision.
For more honest parenting articles by Alexandra Hunter click here.