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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

Rules:
Please post the rules
Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
Leave a comment on mother.wife.me 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)

Questions:
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.

Quotations – Inspired by Melie

2 Nov

This quotation has been bandied around a lot recently…

“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” ~ Steve Jobs
What utter nonsense. People with jobs that are repetitive, stinky, saddening or noisy… Do they love their work? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that, having experienced a few. But does that make those jobs any less essential to the world? Of course not! To act as if those jobs and the people who do them are somehow less because they’re not the “funnest” ever is frankly offensive.

Not all of us are blessed with genius. We have to pick a job that is within our geographical, educational, physical and intellectual limits and derive satisfaction from a combination of the pay, the relationships we build with colleagues and associates, and the satisfaction that we have done a good job each day. And sure, a countdown until Christmas.

This is exactly the sort of crappy message that keeps people down. If you believe that you are meant to find a job that you “love”, then the pressure is so overwhelming for most people because it’s something that 99.9% of us will never achieve. So we give up. Or worse, we become contestants on X Factor.

Thanks, Melie 😉

 

Anyway, if only someone would pay me to research Walt Disney World trips…

 

Some Simple Truths

7 May

Some Muslims are bad people. Some Christians are bad people. Some Jews, Sikhs and Hindus are bad people… Some atheists are bad people. You see where I’m going here. The majority of people of each of the groups and others I haven’t mentioned seem to be somewhere in the average-to-good regions, just getting on with their lives.

Some gay people are promiscuous and live a hedonistic lifestyle. The same applies to a heck of a lot of straight people, too. Awesome and crappy parents appear in all sorts of family situations – single parents and couples, gay and straight.

We can all take quotes from ancient scriptures out of their historical context and use them as instruments of hate – either to denounce all those who follow a faith as evil or hypocritical; or to persecute some group out there. Here’s my take on it – if your interpretation of your religion or other moral code tells you to hate anyone, make sweeping judgements, or gloat over death, then you’re doing it wrong.

I hope that most people who read this are thinking “well, duh”. Unfortunately, in the past few weeks I have been reminded that not everyone feels this way.

There are people who blame the entire Muslim community when a few hateful extremists threaten to demonstrate at the Royal Wedding.

There are those who believe that the location of your mother’s uterus on your date of birth validates or invalidates your right to an opinion, or even to more basic needs.

There are some who are so frightened by the absurd concept that gay people pose some kind of threat to them, that they ban the use of the word “gay” in schools.

I seem to get more easily upset by the shittiness of the world the closer I get to bringing new life into it. I guess my only hope is to bring him up as well as we can. Beyond that? I still have to figure it out. In the meantime, I resolve to continue to not shut up when I hear someone saying something that turns my stomach.

How Do You Make A Hormone?

10 Nov

Please excuse the title. It’s a really bad joke, and I can’t even remember the correct punchline. If you can think of a good one, let me know!

I’m on a bit of a rollercoaster at the moment. Suddenly work has picked up through the roof – you’d think that was good but it’s a bit of a minimum-wage pity effort from my dear old Dad. Going from working part-time and with complete flexibility, to having to juggle clients is really quite overwhelming. Taking the financial weight off is a wonderful gift, though.

I don’t know if it’s pregnancy hormone stuff, but I’ve been really easily upset by things. Bloggers who giggle as their commenters gloat and shriek; pretty much anything I learn about Christine O’Donnell; the new McDonalds advert where all those people seek respite from their horrible journeys; the way some people have never used punctuation in their lives until they hyphenate their child’s name, Mollee-Faiye-Boo.

I’m at – as they say in the online pregnancy world – 5+1, five weeks and one day. Last time, the trouble began at 5+3. I know that once I pass that imaginary hurdle, there are still another 40 days or so until I’m out of the high-risk zone. I envy mothers-to-be who don’t even let this cross their minds and spend these first few months in giddiness, but don’t begrudge it remotely. Staying positive, cuddling beautiful Meg a lot and just taking good care of myself!

I’ve embarked on a pregnancy-friendly weight loss regime, inspired by the great success of Claire at Cakes and Bunting. Slimming World works on the principle of eating foods that are low in calorie density until you are full, ensuring that you eat nutrient-rich foods every day, and allowing room for treats. I don’t know why I’ve been ignoring it this long – I know several people who have been seriously successful with the diet, and I’m not talking about the “OMG! My size 6 jeans are a little tight!” types, but people who have actually improved their health and their life through weight loss.

I’m questioning whether or not the denial may be attributable to the same-old self-sabotage, but the navel-gaziness of it all seems a little pointless when considering the real goal – to start dejiggling.

For accountability’s sake, this is what I’ve been tucking into the past few days –

Tuesday: Lentil-rice casserole with Mulligatawny cup-soup for flavour; brussels sprouts with a whole roasted butternut squash stuffed with rice, parmesan, tomato sauce, olive oil and fat-free fromage frais.

Wednesday: Mushroom omelette; grapes; borlotti beans stir-fried with asparagus; salmon with lentil-rice casserole and roasted broccoli; fried bananas with sugar.

I’ve been delighted to eat such tasty stuff, and I’ve been inspired to eat more veggies. My big flaw when it comes to calorie counting is not being bothered to eat vegetables. I become so focussed upon calories and hunger that everything else goes out the window.

You may have noticed my new-found love of this lentil-rice casserole. I discovered the recipe via Frugal n Fit, and have become addicted – it’s just so creamy and filling and comforting. Essential in this godforsaken weather. The original recipe is here, a fantastic resource for recipes, but I’ve generally been going with (by volume) one part lentils, one part arborio risotto rice, six parts water, and whatever herbs or spices I think will be suitable with whatever it’s accompanying.

Questions –

Do you recognise habitual hurdles in your efforts to keep healthy?

Is there a dish that you could just cook day in and day out and never tire of?

Jesse’s Irritations

27 Oct

Remember this guy?

(source)

Well, this week, I ‘ave been mostly irritated by…

Jeremy Hardy. Frankly, he is ruining the usually wonderful and hilarious News Quiz on Radio 4 with his irrelevant socialist BS. Start being funny or shut up, old man of squeaky voice.

Engagement shoots with that eyes closed, “we’re so in love” shot. I’m sure you are, but photos are either candid, or they’re posed. There is no “we hired you for an hour and you just happened to come across us during a really tender, intimate moment”.

Really, truly awful spelling and grammar. I could care less about loosing weight, but that’s a whole nother topic.

The fact that every once-in-a-while, ITV shows something brilliant, but not often enough that you might catch an advert for the next wonderful thing while watching the current one. As an aside, my friend Ciara and her sister used to use “ITV watcher” as an insult while fighting. Hilarious!

X Factor. Everybody loves it. Apparently there are four of us in the world who think that it’s actually contributing to the decline in society.

Clearly toasted cheese and Marmite sandwiches are the only answer.

What A Tangled Web

23 Jul

There is a lot of meanness on the web. I’m not talking about the random trolling I used to encounter on the Facebook feminist groups (weird guys who would respond to your every argument with “well, that’s because you’ve been brainwashed to think that way”), I’m talking about the gathering together of like-minded people. “Huh?”, you say? Let me explain.

 

There’s an old adage that bullies were usually bullied themselves, and while this is easy to see in the school playground, it’s not as obvious in real, grown-up life, until you start spending time on the internet. The web’s ability to demarginalise those on the fringes of popular culture has created fun places to hang out and discover that you’re not alone, whatever those people at school tried to tell you.

 

In the early days, those who spent time socialising online were a rare breed. You’d start to tell someone a funny story that you’d heard in a forum but stop yourself so you could quickly fabricate a non-geeky source so that they’d laugh at your story and not you. It made for an atmosphere I can only liken to the Gorgonites in Small Soldiers – a rag-tag bunch of slightly odd-looking people, but always friendly and welcoming.

 

Then, as online socialising exploded, cliques began to form. Now that you can find people who share your love of anything from West African philately to obscure Swedish electropop, anyone who has felt marginalised is able to pass on that lovely feeling to someone else. A new type of snobbery seems to be raising its ugly head as people fall over themselves to have a life that’s “more unique” than anyone else’s. FYI – I am aware that there is no more or less unique. There is unique or not. Unfortunately, this means that uniqueness takes you back to solitude, so people turn it into a sliding scale.

 

The wedding world is one of the worst. I’ve encountered – and quickly unsubscribed from – a number of wedding blogs that repeatedly sneer at the decision to wear a traditional wedding dress, get married in church, have a wedding cake –  the sort of thing that normo-type people might have at their weddings. A great way to let people know exactly who is not welcome. When a fabulously talented photographer’s work was trolled recently, readers took the opportunity to reinforce the “we’re such outsiders” label with such comments as “they probably just want a nice dollop of blandness and a side dish of same old same old”. What kind of world do we live in where quality is not permitted to be commonplace?

 

Even if a blog is positive, it can occasionally attract a cliquey bride, whose description of her Big Day entails “we didn’t want this… we didn’t want that…”, referring to all sorts of things that you can guarantee someone reading really wanted for their wedding day. There are practically competitions to see who can have the smallest wedding with the fewest attendants and the lowest budget, because clearly if you invite lots of people you’re just trying to make up numbers and… the worst thing of all… “be something you’re not”.

 

In two weeks time, I plan to brush my hair, put on a frickin’ gorgeous dress and tell everybody in church just how much I love my man. That’s not “me” – I’m a scruff; I’m such a nervous public speaker that I’m actually developing a stutter, and I never wear pale colours because I miss my mouth constantly. If someone is the same every other day as they are on their wedding day, then they’re either a really exciting person, or it’s a really boring wedding. I can just picture it – and now, Mr and Mrs C are now going to sit and watch Sons of Anarchy, while simultaneously IMDBing all the actors they sort-of recognise from somewhere else. (As an aside… Don’t do that. Jackson is so hot until you realise he’s actually English and that irritating boy with the mockney accent in Green Street. He has now left my fantasies forever).

 

Then there are the healthy/ethical foodies – the bloggers are the sweetest girls you will ever meet, but there are commenters who compete to be the most puritanical about their food. It conjures up in my mind the Two Ronnies and John Cleese sketch, only where John Cleese is the fruitarian, looking down on Ronnie Barker’s vegan, who looks down on Ronnie Corbett’s vegetarian.

 

Ever act like a bit of a slob when you’re on holiday? One chap pipes up with “what a shame about your friends who eat dinner at 10pm, wake at noon, and eat pizza for breakfast… I feel sorry for them.” No, really, don’t. We love it.

 

I realise that I’m going to have to change my title to Becca Rants if I carry on down this vein much further, so I promise to perk up and live up to my original positivity purpose a bit better. In the meantime – I have resurrected my Twitter account! Please stop by and say hello – I am @littleacceb. Alternatively, leave your Twitter name below and I shall follow you!

 

Finally – I thought I’d share an old snap from Christmas 2004, of the place where my Dad currently is… Moraira, Spain. Lucky sod.

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