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A Mother’s Work Meme

8 Apr

I saw this post on Mummy Pink Wellies and thought I’d weigh in. Here goes…

A Mother’s Work Meme

Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on so we can keep track of the meme
Tag 3 people and link to them on your blog
Let them know you tagged them
Tweet loudly about taking part (well ok, that isn’t a rule, but how about if we start a hashtag – #amothersworkmeme)

1.  Did you work before becoming a mum?
2.  What is your current situation?
3.  Freestyle – got your own point you’d like to get across on this issue? Here’s your chance…

And, most importantly…. you’re tagged!! If you read this and agree or disagree, please join in.

1. I was a chartered certified accountant. I had been in the process of starting up my own one-woman practice, but had fallen into the lucky situation of having one client who provided enough work to keep me busy full-time. When they found they could no longer use me, I looked into going back to employed work, but when I fell pregnant, I realised that I didn’t want to use child care full-time. My dad needed some help with customer services and product research in his company, and offered to provide me with enough hours to keep me busy while I built my business.

I struggled immensely to find clients, due to my complete inexperience in that side of the business, and began to work full-time with Dad, particularly after two key staff members left in February last year.

2. Working with Dad fit really well into our lives – I could answer queries while hooked up to a breast pump in the middle of the night, and despite my fear of the “boss’s daughter” tag, I started to feel like I was really contributing to and becoming a valuable member of the company. I’m still a bit embarrassed when I tell people that I work for my dad, but I feel that spurs me on to work harder to prove myself.

I work about 30 hours per week. Barnaby is at nursery for eleven hours per week and naps for about three to four hours per day. I can also work in the evenings and more at weekends when Patrick is home to help. I realise that I will need to cut this down as and when Barnaby needs less sleep and moves around more!

3. Katherine makes a great point about the “what do you do all day?” comments. I keep a timesheet, because I’m weird like that, and I regularly do a 50 hour week including work, housework, feeding, changing, reading to Barnaby, walking the dog and attending baby-specific classes and appointments. I am sure that plenty of mothers attend more classes and toddler groups than I do, and absolutely certainly do more housework. The only way people have time to watch Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women is if they’re as rubbish as I am at housework, or if they’re not spending much face-to-face time with their children.

For me, there are two big bugbears in the world of mothers and work.

One is that we need to acknowledge that, for most careers, taking a year or more out is going to slow us down. We need to research and make our choices; recognise the real-life implications and stand up for ourselves if we genuinely feel that an injustice has taken place. If I tried to return to accountancy, having missed out on a year’s practical experience and ongoing professional development, I would have to accept a frozen/lower salary until I had proven that I caught up. That’s not a Four Yorkshiremen statement, that just seems fair to me.

Excellent childcare is available from a very early age, so it’s not essential to take full maternity leave, unless being the main provider of childcare to your child is something you want and choose to do. Unfortunately, there are all sorts of mean-spirited people out there in the mummy blog world who have written about how wrong, uncaring and unnatural mothers who send their children to nursery are, and the damage they’re doing to their children, completely disregarding that, throughout history, childcare has been a communal activity. It takes a village to raise a child, after all. To imply that a child can only be raised well if the mother is the main childcare provider during the working week is not only insulting to working mothers, but to the loving and dedicated childcare workers who provide the service.

The second point is that we need to bring more flexible working into the system. Many jobs can be done from home, or with flexible hours, but it just doesn’t happen – especially in lower-paid roles. Too many bosses seem paranoid that their staff will not work unless properly supervised, but that seems like crazy logic to me. Why hire somebody you cannot trust? Why not work toward improving company loyalty? We need to move towards a working world in which parents and non-parents have equal opportunities to achieve a work/life balance.

I’m afraid I’ll have to break a rule, as I honestly don’t know who to tag, but if you’re reading this, then please consider yourself tagged! I’d be interested to hear opinions of parents and non-parents alike.


The Ghost of Christmas Present

26 Dec

Christmas has been great. Families have got on well; Father Christmas has been beyond generous, and I haven’t eaten my body weight in those Peppadew peppers stuffed with cream cheese. I am currently posting from my shiny new iPad (thank you, lovely Dad) and have a collection of gorgeous, maternity-ready clothes from my Mum and sister; and a hamper stuffed with goodies from Fenwick’s food hall.

If I were in an indigestion remedy advert, my punchbowl would contain smoked salmon, capers, roast beef and yorkshires, Coke-boiled ham, jelly beans, Christmas cake and Black Forest gateau. Ok, that sounds like a lot, but I’ve walked four miles over the last two days, so I feel quite justified.

I had got myself into a big stress over the gift situation – we decided to cut our budget by 40%, and I was definitely feeling the pressure. I scoured the blogosphere for things I might be able to make, and discovered two significant problems. One – unless fairly complex and done well, I think home-crafted items look like primary school art projects, suitable only for Granny’s fridge. Martha may push the crepe paper, but should we really be following what she learnt during her stay in Alderson, WV? Then of course, two – craft supplies are frickin’ expensive. So, there’s every risk that you could spend a small fortune creating something that isn’t even good enough to be regifted.

In the end, I had to abandon what was holding me back – the desire to produce the “best present ever”. What is that, exactly? Something that is exactly what you wanted, without you ever having thought of it. It’s something that fulfils childhood sentimentality, yet is the latest thing, ahead of its time. Where to find it? Less easy to answer. I have the rest of my debt-free life to buy amazing stuff, but for now, I have to just go with modestly thoughtful. I think I succeeded. People won’t be talking about my gifts for years to come – like I still talk about the year I got a clarinet and a Sega Mega Drive – but they will use them and see them and hopefully think of me.

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