I’m running down the stairs, phone to my ear, while on hold to an event partner I need to secure by the end of the day. Why am I running? Missy is shouting, “I need to do a poo”. Then the woman is on the phone. We chat and laugh about missing each other, and I impress on her my urgent deadline. All the while missy grunts in the background. The woman pauses briefly, and I fill in the silence with some chatter to mask the sound of my daughter chattering and grunting. ‘This,’ I think, ‘is Mum life’.
Once the event is all but secure, and I have wiped last night’s chilli from missy’s bum I write a funny little Facebook post about that moment.
I think that’s called ‘having it all’ my husband joked. I laughed. And then I logged on to write this post.
Because, his sardonic comment is right. That is exactly what ‘having it all’ looks like. It’s full on, all the time, it’s getting urgent messages from your boss on your day off. While for some that might sound unnecessary, when you work in a fairly senior role in a small business, that’s the reality. It’s all hands on deck.
The return? Well, no eye was batted when I left early to get missy yesterday because I just wanted to get her earlier that day. And I leave at five on the dot each day no question – sometimes I log in again after dinner, but that’s what having a senior career and a child looks like I’m afraid (and it still beats working late in the office and not seeing missy).
Related: To all the super heroes
I have to admit, I have always been one to strictly draw lines. I don’t check in on my days off unless prompted (like today). And missy is 100% my number one priority all the time.
And sometimes I question whether or not I should be doing work in my time – after all, I’m always telling other women they shouldn’t work when they’re not paid for it! The reality is I work in a very supportive environment, surrounded by people who understand what it’s like to work with children (a blessing that cannot be underestimated). Who don’t get pissy if I have to leave early, or work from home with a sick child. And I get a day. I get my one day a week, just me and my beautiful girl. A day filled with friends, and babycinos, and dancing, and laughter – and the ongoing struggle of trying to nap.
It’s not perfect. And, to my point, do I have it all? I used to think it was possible, but it’s really not, but I think I’m as close as I can get at this stage in my life. I have a challenging, full career that brings me so much satisfaction. I have the flexibility to be with my family when I need to. I have a supportive husband who doesn’t for one minute think a day with miss is “a day off”.
“Having it all” isn’t easy. And we – being women in general – kill ourselves trying. Getting to a point where you’re happy is important. Where you’re comfortable with the little sacrifices you have to make on both sides of the fence. I once interviewed a CFO, who was a mother of three. She told me it was a balancing act. Imagine a set of balancing scales – some days the weight is more on one side than the other. There are days you are a better mum, and days where you are a better manager. The important thing is to find your own version of happiness. For me, it’s allowing the mum and the career woman to co-exist, giving me the version of myself that I want to be. That’s all we can ask for, right?
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