Every 6 months, WD and I have the same fight discussion. It normally starts when I am so exhausted I turn into Snappy Tom Tuna lady and he finally bites back after ignoring the tantrum I have had about the state of the kitchen drawer (the second one down....it's always the second one down).
Our conversation goes something like this:
Me: I'm just so tired. You don't know what it's like being a mum and being at home with this all day (point to 1YO and 4YO who are drawing on each other and the wall while simultaneously pulling each other's hair...my kids are nothing if not multitaskers!)
WD: And you have no idea what it's like being a Working Dad.
Me: Yes I do. You get to go to your office for 12 hours and escape all this (point to kitchen which has turned into a bomb site after 1YO ripped his way through the first three shelves of the pantry and the tupperware drawer).
WD: Yes, I get to go to the office and deal with adults who have similar behaviour patterns to this (points to 4YO). And then I get to come home to you complaining about my long hours and how tired you are (points to me).
I look over my shoulder just to make sure that he actually IS pointing at me and my alter-ego,the screaming banshee, isn't standing behind me.
And then we synchronise our watches and make an appointment to have the same conversation in 6 months time.
Recently, after our bi-annual conference on who has it tougher, I got to thinking about what it feels like to be a mum.
And this is my theory.
It's like starting a new job every 3 months.
Sometimes, it's just like changing departments within an organisation. But mostly it's like starting a new job.
Just as you and Stella get your groove on, something changes.
A behavioural milestone is reached like eating with a fork and spoon.
You start to enforce a behaviour like toilet training.
Your job situation changes. As a contractor this happens to me regularly and I have to be so flexible.
Child minding situation changes.
The kids go on school holidays.
The kids go back to school.
And you go through the whole rigmorale of the household adjusting to these changes, only to have everyone settled for....oooh, about 8 weeks......then to have it change again.
The past few months I got my time management sorted out with the whole work and home integration. I set boundaries about how often I worked out of the home office. I planned ahead and mostly all went to plan. The boys were in daycare on the same 2 days. We have fallen into a rhythm.
That's about to change. Next year, 4YO is enrolled into pre school, which is on different days to 1YO's daycare.
I am restructuring (can you restructure when there's only one of you?) my business to support this.
And once again we'll go through the whole new job thing again.
This is what I feel when I start a new job:
- a little bit of anxiety around meeting new people
- a little bit of anxiety around 'proving' myself and my capabilities
- a few scheduling hit and misses as I settle into a new routine and schedule
- that feeling of being on 'probation'
- the borrowing of the 'communal' mug because you haven't brought yours in
- getting stuck outside without your security pass
- no stapler
Now in the working world, generally it takes a few months to settle in. You do all of the above. You may even get your own hole punch. And work up the courage to heat up a curry in the microwave in the kitchenette.
You are normally given an induction, undertake an OHS course for those dangerous paper cuts and you may even have a performance appraisal a few months in to make sure you are happy and to see if you need any additional support.
Not motherhood. Talk about perpetual motion.
Your routine is changing all the time.
You're meeting new people / cliques all the time - soccer mums, preschool mums, canteen mums.
And you can never find the garlic crusher (metaphoric representation of the workplace stapler).
And an induction? Forget about it. The closest you get to an induction is asking your mum how she did it in 1976.
So when WD and I get set for our next discussion about whose job is harder - working mum or working dad - I'm going to use that analogy.
I'll let you know how I go.....in March.
In the meantime, I'll use this strategy. It's as good as any on some days.
Penny Webb loves being a mum. And working. It’s when she put the two together that she ran into trouble. When Penny had two children within two years and tried to keep her career and her sanity intact, she discovered it was one of the more difficult things she had ever tried to do. That’s when the Working Mums MASTERCLASS was born, followed closely by the Sshh Mummys on the Phone blog.