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.
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.