1) The working mother’s most familiar emotion is guilt. Not that she IS guilty…..but still, that insistent, nagging discomfort never quite subsides. And of course she becomes sensitive to hints and suggestions from certain quarters…..the occasional supercilious full – time ‘homemaker’, or older family members….that she is putting herself first. She is being selfish.
2) The working mother either HAS to work, for financial reasons, or she needs the stimulation and challenge that a career can offer. Or both. Dr Phil says “A racehorse has to run.” As a Sagittarian (half woman – half horse) I can relate to that!
3) The working mother has two jobs. The one outside her home, and the one within it. Research suggests that lower-income men are actually mucking in more than higher income men, where household duties are concerned (I read it on the internet, it must be true!), BUT women are still doing the lion’s share, generally speaking.
4) The working mother has developed a set of skills worthy of mention on any CV. Thinking on her feet. The ability to be flexible. The capacity to nurture AND tackle a whole range of practical tasks. Thinking ahead. Being resourceful. Being imaginative. Staying awake when so exhausted she just wants to drop and flop. Making time stretch (eating and shopping on the run)…..ohh, and a million others.
5) The working mother is sometimes secretly envious of those single women who are heading home to a nice hot shower, feet up on the couch with a take – away, watching the soaps…..undisturbed. Or are meeting up with the girls for after – work drinks. Or are off for a week – end of long lie – ins and shopping. And she sometimes feel that those without kids shouldn’t be allowed to take time off at Christmas or Easter (these are, after all, family times!)……but she won’t admit it, and she knows she chose her life – style and wouldn’t really change it for any number of exciting social engagements or lazy days!
6) The working mother is familiar with stress: what if a child is ill and there is no – one available to babysit? What if she can’t get time off to attend school sports day? Will she be allowed to take her annual leave during the school holidays? How can she compete at work with the single women who don’t have to concern themselves with such stuff? Or with the men?
7) The working mother can, through example, demonstrate something to her children, about ambition, and self – development, and striving……if the message she transmits is not largely one of stress and self – sacrifice. She can teach the value of resilience, determination, flexibility, commitment and hopefulness…….working for something bigger and better, whilst contributing and growing.
8) The working mother has to go the extra distance. She is responsible for so much more than others are, often including her partner. She is the central pivot within the family unit, and despite the tough times, the tiredness, the restrictions, and the never – ending ‘to do’ list, the rewards make everything worth it! And as the night – time silence descends, the tousled heads sleepily nestled into their pillows, she flops down with a glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream, breathes a sigh of pleasure and relief, and murmers: “Ahh, I did okay today. You know, it really IS all worth it!”#workingmothers.