So my brain almost exploded yesterday. Honestly, it did. There was almost a terrible mess in the kitchen and all over three traumatised children. I had to have a little head-down moment in the plastics cupboard and let loose a few tears in order to relieve the potentially fatal pressure in my head.

It wasn’t a particularly hard day; I did a 9 til 4 work day with some good people, not too taxing, nothing physical, nothing too heavy on the synapses. That was the easy bit. I liked that bit. It was the last of three work days this week if I include a professional development day last Sunday. This is unusual for me. I usually work to my own schedule, depending on what needs to be done and mostly from home. This week, I was a working mum. A part time worker but a worker all the same.

But it wasn’t the work that built up the pressure in my brain, it was the other bits that surround a Mother Who Works, they are the explodey brain bits. Stuff like:

– A child gets sick and the entire week’s schedule had to be rejigged. Everything gets thrown out of whack, other people are inconvenienced and there is another black mark against another my otherwise reliable name.

– I have to scrabble around for childcare for said sick child (well again but with no where to go on account of said schedule rejig). She is outraged by the unexpected change to routine, which leads to me having to prise her off me like a little koala and then close a door on her wailing, thereby unleashing that ol’ motherguilt beast, which niggles and nips variously for the rest of the day.

– I spend workday breaks phoning the plumber to arrange delivery of a new toilet, buying children’s ibuprofen, returning the wrong toilet seats and making a quick happy birthday phone call to my husband’s Godchild.

– The home commute requires more stops than a Melbourne tram – including a last minute and desperate swerve into the Kid’s Fat Clinic (KFC) drive through. I pray that no one I know will see me but the wholesome vegetarian from up the road drives by and waves. And even though I’m in a queue of other shamefaced mothers, I know about the thermomix ones with who’ve had the week’s dinners planned and prepared since Sunday. And the guilt beast will start to snarl.

– On arrival back home, no one give a cat’s wrinkled arsehole what kind of day I had or what I did, they just care about where their lunch order money is, who moved their library book and why the insurance forms haven’t been signed. The dishwasher needs unpacking, uniforms are strewn about the house and a not-fully-thought-out holiday needs to be booked RIGHT NOW for 50% off.

– The washing, owing to neglect, is emitting a musty protest smell – even from the clean pile. I realise that all the knickers in the house are now in the laundry and there’s been a maelstrom of bare bottoms searching for coverage each morning. And I’m not sure how well the children’s teeth have been brushed or whether hair wash night happened.

– The grocery shopping is overdue and the freezer’s at a three year low (I know because two frozen nappies and a small container of breast milk has been uncovered. And my youngest is four).

– There are overdue invitations to respond to and I didn’t get to the bank or phone grannies and there’s home reading and eyebrows that need a pluck but how can I put eyebrows and other shallow needs before my children’s spelling words and nutritional well being? This reminds me that I haven’t exercised in weeks and my jeans feel a little tight. And I haven’t even looked at my bikini line (is there a line at all?). And amongst it all is the inner pester of a writing addiction left unsatisfied for days.

And then someone spills their milk and blames someone else and an argument breaks out and suddenly I don’t know what to do first because there’s too much. It’s just all too much for one medium sized person with medium sized brain. Too. Much.

So – for want of a better solution – I scrabble about in the chaos that is the plastics cupboard, rest my head in it for a minute and sob a bit. And decide that expectations of the working woman are too damn high and that perhaps it would be better for everyone if I just put on a housecoat, polish the teapot and call, “Surrender!”.

Let’s face it, unless you’re supremely rich or have invented a secret clone-yourself mechanism, there’s no magic fairy person doing your household management while you’re out extending yourself and bettering your prospects (not to mention bringing home some bacon); there’s just stuff piling up – to be done on the weekend if you’re not running around to sports grounds and dance classes. You can have a soaring career but only at the expense of time with family, an organised household and inner peace.funny-mom-ecard

Who’s the fucker who said we can have it all?

And yes, this has been just three days for me. I know, pathetic. Some women do this for their whole lives, like my Mum – I don’t remember her blubbering over the tupperware. Some do indeed have it all. Am I soft? Incapable? Or have expectations of mothers changed? Or are my expectations of myself too high?

Whatever, frankly I’m too tired to answer that and anyway, what I really want to say is LET’S GET AROUND WORKING MOTHERS BECAUSE THEY ARE AMAZINGLY INCREDIBLE – they really, truly are. I take my hat off to every one of you. Actually I don’t do hats so I take off my house socks to every one of you, and my trackies, you are DEAD. SET. AWE. SOME. because you do it all and I never hear anything on the news about your brains exploding.

And by the way, it was just a weak moment. I will only surrender a little bit, on certain days.




Categories: MUMblings

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10 replies

  1. Hang in there Meg. I’d like to say it gets easier and laugh and “cheers” with a bucket of full bodied red as if the evolution is magic. It only gets easier because we have to let some things go. Like clean clothes for instance. carefully laundered by you. I just dropped off 4 bags at the laundry because I had finally goto the point of “f*&k this, no more weekend ironing frickin’ school shirts and laundering teen stained sheets”. Then having to nag the buggers into submission to remake their beds when after day 3 they are still sleeping on the bare mattress. It’s getting the others around you to let go too that’s the biggest challenge…..and that includes the vegetarian purist. She has her own issues….. You made this working mum laugh, thank you. Mwah!

  2. Thanks Sara. They should make a superhero film about working mothers like you. (Eeek, teen stained sheets) x

  3. You know fair enough I get exactly what you are saying as my life feels like what you have just described without a job that I go out to everyday although my washing is probably more up to date just at the moment. The bit I resent is your statement ‘put on a housecoat, polish the teapot and call, “Surrender!”.’ Is that how you see us mums that don’t go out and get paid for what we do all day?? Don’t get me wrong as soon as my youngest of 4 children is in school I hope that I too will have a job where I actually get paid for what I do and therefore be seen as a ‘working mum’ as I would like to have a life outside of my children again and yes even earn my own money. I am lucky enough that while my children are not at school we can afford to live on a single income so I can be there for my kids when they are little and hopefully I will still be able to do that before and after school and holidays when I finally go back to work. I’d just like to remind you that there is no housecoat, teapot polishing or surrendering for mothers who choose to do what you are paying childcare workers to do for you while you are being a ‘working mum’. It doesn’t mean we automatically have an organised household and inner peace.

    • Hi Liz, I am at the stage now where my youngest is at kinder three days a week and I am dabbling in work away from home. I’m a stay at home mum and what I found this week is that my already chaotic household became out of control. As a stay at home mum there are certainly days when I have to don the proverbial housecoat (in my case tracksuit and uggies) and polish stuff. I am overdue for one. I wasn’t implying in any way that stay at home mums are lesser people that working mums. My whole blog is pretty much a tribute to all mums. I just lived in a working mum’s world for a bit this week and wondered how on earth they do it day after day. I am now having a day at home to catch up and do indeed feel my inner peace returning. xx

  4. I think we have such high expectations for ourselves as mothers… I’m not sure why. Well done on surviving the week and another blog post that totally nails it as always.

  5. Thanks for making me laugh!
    It’s a sad fact that most mothers whether they work or not feel guilty, isolated and overwhelmed at certain points – sometimes daily lol

    I have come to the conclusion that the guilt is hereditary, my mother gave it to me – she worked full time, played sport and had 5 children – I have 2 kids and stay at home and I have no idea how she did it. I will probably spend my whole life wondering how I am so useless when she was so fantastic, and heres the kicker my mother tells me ALL the time she wished she was as good with us as I am with my kids!

    I’m not sure how or why but the guilt is inbred, if I do the ironing while my kids are awake I feel guilty that I’m not playing with them. If I spend the whole day playing with my kids I feel guilty that my house is trashed! I’m sure if you add working into the mix it compounds the problem.

    But here’s what I’ve learnt that helps me cope, my fantastic, wonderful mother had her own issues, her house was only clean on big occasions (when all of the pics were taken giving me false memories of a spotless home)
    She worked all the time – but always made major sporting events/dance recitals.
    She spent much of her time overwhelmed and as a consequence yelling at us kids, but i don’t remember the yelling,( shes told me it’s true but the guilt thing might be messing with her memories) I remember the early morning cuddles before work, the cheering from the sidelines, the unscheduled games of hide and seek, her watching us do our homework – the list is endless.

    So chin up your children won’t remember if your house is messy they’ll remember that sometimes you bought home KFC and ate with sticky hands on the lounge, they won’t remember having to search for clean clothes, they’ll remember how you could make dinner from whatever was in the freezer – and they’ll wonder how you did it, they’ll marvel at how incredible you were!

    • Thank you Tanya, what you say rings so true for me. My Mum tells me that once she was so cross she just roared like a lion at us until we ran away. I don’t remember it. I remember how wonderful our birthday parties were though – every year. They put my short-cut parties to shame. Thanks for your thoughts – I write for thoughts like those. M xx

  6. Meg, love your BLOG! I laughed so hard my belly hurt – I had your week last week just with one child with NITS & my house was for Auction! I admire stay at home Mums I think it takes so much patience. As a mum of 3 going to work 3days a week (when I finally get there – is relaxing) All MUM’S ARE AMAZING no matter what you do. x

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