Behind Closed Doors: The Mummy Train

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Do you remember the days when you were amazing at your job? The days when you were loved by your boss, revered by your colleagues, found success at everything you did? Excelled at every role & duty within your remit and embraced the challenges outside of it? The days when you could delegate those annoying things that you found tedious and hated to do? I do.

I remember spending years climbing ladders. I say ladders because I was one of those who tried a few different career paths – they were all in the same general direction but there were many of them.

I remember the years I spent perfecting the art of negotiation. Not only angling for the best pay but for the best position to suit my skill set, my passion and the role which drove me to work the hardest and succeed. I learnt to delegate which wasn’t something that came easily to me. I always loved to do things my way and enjoyed feeling that sense of satisfaction. However, I worked hard and soon felt comfortable with asking others to do the things I wasn’t so good at or which if we’re being completely honest – as we are on AOW, things which I felt was a waste of my time and abilities. The irony is that we’re often encouraged to delegate. It’s seen as an important attribute to master and it aids your journey up the ladder.

I also spent years – and by years I mean 17 of the things – honing my understanding of what role and industry worked for me. Am I a sales person? An administrator? A manager? A creator? An editor? Should I work in finance, design or event management? And I have to say I’m pretty much there. I have found the job for me. The one which uses all my skills – my creativity, my adaptability, my negotiation and delegation skills. My love of working with people but my absolute need and desire to create something. I have finally found the job with the right balance. Am I talking about being a Mum? If only.

I always dreamt that being a Mum would be my dream job. The pay would be shit, the time commitment like nothing else but the rewards are massive. That’s what they all say, right? It breaks my heart to say it but Motherhood – its not the job for me. It’s not the job I dreamt it would be and most days I really don’t feel I am any bloody good at it at all.

Motherhood – takes no prisoners. Babies don’t care about any of it. They don’t care if you worked for seventeen years to be great at your job, to be recognised for your knowledge and the skills by others internally and externally. They have no idea about the experience you have acquired within your field – ‘was that field being a Mum? No, then why are you wasting my time?

There is no negotiation, no delegation unless you have a very helpful and willing husband, a Mum or Mother-in-Law close by or are fortunate to afford help but even with helping hands, as a mother, the buck stops with you and always will.

At 2am when your baby’s got wind, sore teeth, having a nightmare he doesn’t care if you were a Line Manager before – he needs you to hold him until he’s ready to sleep. When he has a hideously full nappy seeping up his back, down his legs. He doesn’t care that before you had other people to deal with this shit. When it’s the end of the day and you are both tired, grizzly and had enough. There is no ‘I’ll deal with it tomorrow’ or ‘It’s Friday, I’m off to the pub for a drink with my work colleagues.’ Absolutely no way, this is happening now and you have to deal with it. After all this is well within your job description.

And its those heart breaking days when you wake up in morning still tired from the days, weeks, months before that you long for a refreshing shower without having to rush whilst your baby sleeps or sits on the bathroom floor shouting at you. It’s those mornings when you drag your feet reluctantly to your ‘job’ back in the kitchen that you long for that commute on a crowded bus with time to read a book. Its the days when you have had enough of being yelled at whilst having your hair tugged and slobbered on or worse, vomited on that you long for a morning coffee in peace infront of your emails at the start of the day whilst preparing for the meetings and presentations ahead. And it’s all those times when you feel unrecognised for the hard work that you put in every day, seven days a week that you crave your job with deadlines, KPIs and bonuses.

It’s all these moments when the love for your offspring, the love you feel to your very core is sadly and entirely overshadowed by the desire to be a working woman again. Although the irony is – I am a working woman, an At Home Working Mother to be exact. Working on THAT career that it’s taken me seventeen years to find. And whilst I spend my days struggling to achieve both – Motherhood and my career – I never feel I really do either particularly well. And then I have those days when I just want to get off the Mummy Train altogether which not only makes me feel guilty as hell and selfish as sin for even contemplating the prospect but reaffirms that I surely can’t be a good Mother – the very thing that defines me as a woman.

Categories: Any Other Baby, Becoming a Mother, Behind Closed Doors
18 interesting thoughts on this

17 Comments

  1. Posted November 29, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    I was always a bit shit at the ladder climbing thing and had George too early to ever really get better at it so coming from a slightly different stand point I’m still nodding at every word.

    It sounds like you need a break. Is there anyway you can plan a weekend sans offspring? It can make such a difference to have some time by yourself- enjoying a proper wash and eating uninterrupted.

    Feeling your pain of the relentlessness of it.

    I’ve said this before but I really mean it- every single day of being a mother I’ve felt the need to apologise to my own mum.

    Keep fighting the good fight and maybe you need to have a childcare switch about to get the work time out of the house??

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      Thank you Anna, I absolutely agree with you. When I wrote this I was really, seriously feeling the strain. I have subsequently had some rest, taken a moment or ten to remember how amazing my son is and although darn hard work, I have realised that I would not change my life for the world.

      I didn’t ask for this not to be posted as the relevance is still there for me. Like you, I re-read it even on my best days and think – yes, its still true – just in a slightly lesser measure. When we are pre-babies I believe there is equal emphasis placed on women as men in the world of work. And then come those little ankle biters and everything shifts. But still some pressure on women to continue to work and be SuperWoman/ SuperMum – well, I’m trying to be that person and holy moly, its a challenge! I loved Esme’s Mum’s post. It hit home for me as I desperately try to achieve something close to what she was referring to.

      • Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

        She’d love to hear that, you know.

        Thank you for letting AOW post this, even though you were feeling a bit stronger because it’s so important to say things like this. I haven’t even started maternity leave yet and I’m already feeling guilty about coming home late when I go back to work and asking my husband to pick the baby up from nursery. I was in a position where I didn’t have a job to go back to (contract finishing whilst on mat leave) but they’ve asked me back, and because money is going to be tight I don’t feel like I can say no. Will I want to work? Who knows. Gosh, it’s so, so hard.

        Lets please keep on having this conversation.

        xx

  2. Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    I am not a mother and have only just started my career, so I can’t offer you any real advice on this… Apart from to agree with Anna, you just sound like you’ve got to the end of your tether and you need a break. Maybe you need just a couple of days to assess it? Not wanting to stay at home is a perfectly valid feeling, and maybe you’ll realise you need to act on it. Or maybe the break will make you realise it’s not all as bad as you’re feeling now.
    Either way, lots of hugs. xxx

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Thank you Katylkh, I agree. A break is exactly what I needed. And I do feel better for it. I guess fundamentally, our generation of woman are mainly career women so when we take a break or leave the work place entirely there is a great deal we are giving up/ leaving behind. It about accepting the new you. Accepting that you aren’t that person anymore. You are a new person. An awesome thing called a Mum. And you will always be a Mum first, and everything else second. xxx

  3. Lara Blue
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Someone said something to me recently which, whilst not about this situation, still applies. The fact that you feel so terrible and guilty about it is a sign that you care. That you desperately want to do a good job. That you’re trying.

    I’m not a mother but as a daughter, I know my mother isn’t a perfect or even great mother ALL the time but I also know that she loves me immensely and I appreciate that she’s doing the best that she can. We all are. Sometimes that’s really hard. Sometimes it’s almost unbearable.

    Try to find some support (physical, emotional) and ways of coping with your feelings.

    But remember that the guilt you feel on your bad days is a sign of being a good mother- that you care enough to worry that you’re not doing a good enough job. Xxx

    • Cheri
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Again, I’m not a mother, but all being well I will be next year, and it scares the wotsits out of me that I’ll be rubbish at it! I also feel bad for thinking that I want/need to go back to work after.

      But we, you, can only do your best. And I bet your best is more than good enough for your child(ren).

  4. Caroline
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Joining those here that aren’t mothers but really want to give you some encouragement. Particularly on your last point, where you say being a good mum is “the very thing that defines you as a woman”. If you want being a good mum to define you as a woman – that is of course completely fine and understandable. But if this is something you feel put upon you by the world around you – being a real/proper/successful woman means being an amazing monther – then I want to quite strongly shout (in a nice, encrouaging way) – THIS ISN’T TRUE. Women are defined by so many different n, and you should choose what you want your own definition to be. Easier said than done, I know, but don’t let perceptions of what you “should” be like as a woman make you feel bad, guilty, or a failure – because, quite clearly from what you are managing to cope with, you’re the polar opposite of that! cxx

  5. Flaf
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Jumping in v quickly to say that I hear ya. It can be so very relentless and you don’t get the weekend to go home, get some rest and think about what is & isn’t working so you can bounce back at it fresh and with a new slant on Monday morning.

    I wanted to say that for me, this feeling was v v specific to the baby days. You are a Good Mother, you’re just having a shit time. Babies are haaaaard.

  6. Kate Q
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m just 10 weeks away from becoming a mother (in theory…) and this post is equally scary and reassuring. I haven’t really had time in my career to get far up the ladder and on my dark days when I’m being pessimistic (realistic?!) I realise it’s unlikely I ever will now so I am hoping I can be fulfilled and happy being a mum. I’m trying to tell myself that being a “Good Enough” mother is still an amazing feat and that I can’t expect to be brilliant at everything but when the maternal guilt is already setting in because I can’t remember if I’ve eaten my 5 a day I can imagine how hard this is going to be.

    Babies grow up into children and then adults who can tell you what a great mum you are so hopefully the belated appraisal will help make it all worthwhile!

    • Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      OMG Kate I read that and thought “wow, 10 weeks, that’s not long” and then realised that I too am 10 weeks away from become a mother. I completely agree with everything you’ve said and I’m now away to hide under my desk. x

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Many congratulations to you both on your imminent arrivals. Motherhood is a tricky business – lucky they come out so darn cute. You’ll be great, I’m sure. Now go, put your feet up, read a magazine, go to the movies x

      • Posted November 30, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Haha Steff, sorry but that did make me laugh! (And that is so going to be me in, er, 12 weeks!!! ARGHHHHHH!!!!)

  7. Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I love that you’ve been so honest. I’m glad to hear things are a bit better, and it’s so refreshing to hear that motherhood isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

    On a lighter note, on leaking nappies – “He doesn’t care that before you had other people to deal with this shit” – please tell me this excellent pun was intentional.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I feel quite overwhelmed by such amazing responses and support. I knew AOW was a great place to be but didn’t fully appreciate just how great. Can you all pop over for coffee some day? I promise to have baked something delicious – because isn’t that what amazing Mums are supposed to do?

    Joking aside – my appreciation for my own Mother has sky-rocketed since becoming a Mum myself. She always used to say ‘you’ll understand when you become a Mum’. Well, guess what, she was right.

    Being the best Mum I can be is right now to make sure my little man is happy, fed and safe. I want him to grow and learn and be kind to women. And I want him to know I love him, deep down, even when I’m off working and juggling what feels like a million different balls. I guess at the end of the day that’s all we can ask as Mums.

    PS. All puns intended!

  9. Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got so many words I can’t get them all out coherently… I know that I want to spend time with the babies when they arrive but I also know that I love where I am in my career just now and I don’t want that to go up the spout. What I don’t know is how the two will co-exist (IF they can co-exist) and that scares the bejeezus out of me right now. Only time will tell but it was good to read an honest account of it all, of someone who is feeling the things that I’m feeling.

    Reading this made me feel less guilty about still wanting a career once the babies are born so thank you for sharing your story. You’ll find bucket loads of supportive women right here and it sounds like you’re on the up which is grand but if you ever need an ear give me a shout :) xx

  10. Lucy
    Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I think the fact that you have been so open is a true sign of what a fantastic mother you are. It shows you care and that you are self aware and that you love your child otherwise you wouldn’t feel as much as you do. That is a sign of a fantastic mother! It’s such hard work and I’m pretty sure that every mum at some point feel that they need to get off the mummy train. It’s relentless for gods sake! I got to breaking point and ended up getting a little bit of help in the form of a parenting coach. She was an absolutely amazing and non judgemental woman. She helped me to find confidence within myself and to not beat myself up so much and to help me feel more organised in my work/family life. I still have those moments from time to time but I have the right tools now to deal with it.
    Big hugs to you.

One Trackback

  • By My Eye Spies… | on December 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

    [...] Admitting that motherhood isn’t for everyone.  And this conversation between friends (scroll down to the chat about James Bond….priceless!) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in My Eye Spies and tagged Christmas, Holidays, Opinions on December 4, 2012 by littlepurplestocking. [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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