Having a baby brings a new dynamic to any relationship for sure. However, when I read in the past about working mums still doing the lions’ share of chores at home whilst continuing to be the main breadwinner in the household I’m not sure I really believed it. These intelligent, highly successful women were superstars in the workplace but Cinderella at home? A true dichotomy of roles. I couldn’t quite relate to the ongoing social commentary that women were pulled in all directions, the ‘have it all’ generation had well and truly had it? Surely these were just slightly whiney women who simply needed to outsource their cleaning and ironing in order to live the working suburban dream?
I think I may have been a little naive.
Whilst I could take the opportunity here to man bash, I’m actually going to do a little bit of woman bashing…….metaphorically speaking of course. Sorry girls. Because maybe we can’t have it all, but we still want it. And therefore we drive ourselves crazy trying to give our children home cooked food everyday by preparing homemade chicken and basil meatballs at midnight. We can’t bear the thought of ‘Aunty Maureen’ popping round and recounting tales of our toy strewn, un-vacuumed living room to the extended family that we never see. And we painstakingly hand sew name tags into our childrens clothes for nursery/school rather than ‘giving in’ and using the miraculous wonder-webbing stuff.
But what about the men in all this? Well, they don’t have anything to worry about. The children are well fed, the house is lovely and clean and they don’t even know why you would have to sew name tags in a turtle shaped rucksack. Because we do all that don’t we? Of course, we all cave a little now and then – perhaps have a slightly overdramatic reaction to an overbaked fairy cake and our partner is reminded that maybe they could do a little more to help. “But the football is on at the minute so I’ll make her a cuppa later”. Sound familiar?
I think we women do put lots of pressure on ourselves……..I accept this is not the most enlightened of statements nor can I offer any solutions I’m afraid. I’m too busy wondering when those bloody name labels will actually arrive.
So, I’m still relatively new to this parenting lark. We’re not even one year in yet so I’m pretty open about the chaos that occasionally ensues within my household. My lack of knowledge about the ‘prohibited’ items on the food weaning list (i.e. no salt, sugar or anything that creates any flavour it seems) causes much hilarity to my antenatal co-apprentices. Look, I don’t feed him pureed Happy Meals (is that an urban myth or do people actually do that?) but I don’t think a spoon of sugar in a homemade banana muffin is going to create a catalyst of health chain reactions as a result of a spike in his calorie intake. He’s now 10 months old but showing no signs of crawling/walking but am I worried? Of course not. He’s a boy, they all take a little longer to do most things don’t they? But I can appreciate how some people do cave in to the pressure of ‘Billys doing this’ and ‘Josie is doing that’. This parenting lark it seems, is a tad competitive sometimes.
I have quite a small closed group of friends who are pretty like minded so its fairly rare for me to be exposed to these people who appear to have an innate paranoia that there child is not ahead of the game in the eating, teething, walking arena. Whilst I can kind of appreciate their worry, after all its quite intense being wholly responsible for another human life, I do get pretty annoyed when people are so concerned about what Billy isn’t doing that they don’t notice exactly what he is doing.
I also sometimes wonder, if the concern for the childs progress (which is inevitably at the route of this crazy behaviour) is sometimes just one factor in their view of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. It’s easily done, but you can spend way too much time worrying about what other people think of you, your child and your parenting skills. This self induced social pressure can drive you crazy and really, in my experience, people are so wrapped up in their own life that whether Billy can throw a ball or count to ten doesn’t really mean that much to them. Whilst you’re trying to justify another thrown potato on the floor at that family function, they’re probably wondering if that queue at the BBQ means there aren’t any sausages left.
And generally, in my view, children are magical whatever their ability, talents or preferences. They’re our own little miracles.
Wow, what a week and its only Wednesday! Whilst a lucky few have spent the day frolicking in the sunshine, I have been with the majorty of office workers across the country by spending my day in a fairly airless room. I travelled to the smallest county in the UK to learn all about Digital Marketing. And I loved it! A number of other small businesses were also in attendance and I really did gain a true insight into the variety and volume of business owners that are out there. From freelance Forensic Scientists to old school dating agencies, it was really interesting to hear about other peoples experiences, ideas and, in my opinion most importantly, their passion.
We learnt lots of tips and tricks about social media marketing, a little about the dark art of Search Engine Optimisation (it seems to me that only google themselves understand that one!) and alot about how not to do digital marketing! I came away with lots of ideas…….and I felt very free. Free to explore how we might grow the business. Free to make some decisions on the direction we would like to go in. And free to be, well free. Sure, its a scarey time going self employed and all of that but you know what, its worth a shot in my view.
Its been a busy week because I also spoke to my current employer about not returning from maternity leave – eeeeek, yes, I actually spoke those words out loud in front of my line manager. Its still all yet to be finalised (so shhhhh for now) but whilst I expected to be really quite sad to be leaving my previous workplace, I actually felt relieved. Relieved to be able to move forward.
But my biggest challenge of the week was trying to blow the little nippers paddling pool up yesterday. Who knew you had to have a whole special pump for those things and everything……….though I probably did buy an excessively large pool for a 9 month old. He’ll grow into it.
“A good friend is a connection to life, a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world” (Lois Wyse)
I love this quote as it entirely encompasses a particular long distance friendship I have at the moment. I previously saw Mel several times a week, not because we had an intense relationship that obligated us to, but because we were equally crazy about the gym at that point in time. Every other day we would see each other at our most sweaty and unglamorous and initially exchanged polite niceties about the weather, traffic and other equally benign topics of conversation. Soon, each of our dry and cheeky sense of humours surfaced and the non-descript chats soon became hilariously filled (or so we thought) with sarcasm and inappropriate comments about our fellow gym members, aspirational 3 minute discussions about how we might make our 1st million pounds and a debate on the merits of mint chic chip v’s raspberry ripple ice cream. Deep and meaningful stuff.
But as life inevitably takes us on its meandering journey of highs and lows, we found that we were both looking forward to our quick, pre Circuits class 3 minute chat more and more to let off some steam about our day or week with a non-judgemental listener who only offered advice upon request and when provided was always succinct and to the point due to the aforementioned time pressure before the start of a session of sweat. Pretty soon, the 3 minutes were not enough and became cozy nights in with a few bottles of red putting the world to rights!
Mel then made announcement that she was transforming her life, giving up,work and moving to the far reaches of Scotland with her hubby to try something different from the daily grind. As I congratulated her, it was with more than a tinge of sadness that our girly cathartic sessions were coming to an end. But they weren’t in fact coming to an end, they were just going to change slightly. We still catch up fairly regularly over a glass of red and conduct a good degree of man bashing, updates on jobs/family dramas and so forth. The only difference now is that we’re no longer in the same room and Alexander Bells greatest invention is usually hot against my cheek as I rub the tears of laughter from my eyes as we catch up on the latest shenanigans we’ve each been up to.
I’ve certainly learned a great lesson from this experience in that there was no need to mourn the potential loss of a great mate, as true friendships really do endure, regardless of distance certainly. And my regular telephone catchups with Mel really do keep me sane in this crazy world! Looking forward to my next glass of red wine with you my lovely! X