Dear Working Mum

Dear Working Mum,

I don’t know how you do it.

We’ve all been tickled this week by the hilarious BBC interview that went so very wrong when a toddler and baby came running into the room while their dad was on Skype being interviewed about democracy in South Korea. It was my favourite YouTube moment of the year so far – until this morning, when a friend reposted this on Facebook, a spoof of what it would have been like if it had happened to a woman. A working mum. And the reason I laughed so hard is that it so absolutely could have been true.

But actually, it’s kind of not funny.

Because working mum, I don’t know how you do it.

I don’t know how you get up in the mornings and get not only your small people looking presentable, but yourself as well. Hair, make-up, clothes-that-do-not-fall-into-the-Active-Wear-category, grown-up shoes… but you do.

I don’t know how you make breakfasts and packed lunches, and get small people to sit down and eat said breakfasts, while simultaneously preparing yourself mentally for whatever tasks are waiting for you when you get to your desk… but you do.

I don’t know how you manage to do the school run, administering that all-important “one last kiss”, and then haul yourself across town (or sometimes even further) to wherever work is, and arrive on time… but you do.Read More »

Parenting for the future: A conversation that made me think

Through my career the thing I’ve loved most has been meeting smart, savvy women and listening to what they have to say about things they’re passionate about. I worried that when I gave up work to be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM), I’d find fewer of these conversations in my daily life. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because – and it seems so obvious when I say it out loud – we SAHMs had former lives. We thought about things other than establishing sleep schedules, diverting tantrums and ways to cunningly disguise vegetables (not that these things aren’t vital to our day-to-day existence!). And – through the haze – we still do. I’m so grateful for the women my new “career” as a SAHM has introduced me to. Clever, caring, funny, kind women – who are mums first, but bring so many different experiences and opinions to the table. 

One of these women is Fleur Heyworth. I love it when a conversation around a dinner table gets meaty – and at Fleur’s table, there’s no shortage of substance. A Cambridge-educated Barrister, she took a break in her career to have two children, before relaunching her working life with the UK government at the Mission in Geneva as part of the Legal, Political and Human Rights team representing the UK at the UN and International Organisations on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. She is now an Independent Consultant working with Women@theTable and the International Service for Human Rights, and has set up a website called Closing the Gap.

We recently got talking about what the future looks like for our children, and the part we as parents have to play – not just in our nuclear  families, but in the world we’re leaving for our kids to be in charge of one day. I found that the work she has done with agencies for change in Geneva have given her a wide and fascinating view of the world, and ideas to share that I believe we would all benefit from.

So I asked her to write down her thoughts after our conversation, and this is what she said…Read More »

Theirs

My fellow mamas of littles… When you close your eyes at night and reflect back on the day that’s just been, how often do you think to yourselves, “Yes. That went well.” Is it often? Is it every now and then? Or almost never?

A few nights ago I closed my eyes and did my usual mental audit of the day and, to my surprise, I could think of nothing that had not gone to plan. We had got up on time in the morning, everybody had eaten their breakfast (without threats or bribery), we’d had a smooth school run with no rushing to get out the door, after school we’d done some painting and colouring and then played some lego (with no requests for the iPad), the baby had napped at her designated hours, dinner had been prepared and eaten with minimal fuss, bath time had been full of squeals and giggles, milk lazily drunk before bed, and bed time had passed without incident.

What amazed me even more than this smooth sequence of events – and instantly filled me with guilt – was how seldom we have days like this.Read More »

Links I’m Loving Lately…

When I started this blog a few months ago I had to wade through all the usual hang-ups that aspiring writers are afflicted with – the nagging fear that I don’t actually have anything interesting to say; that almost four years of being a stay-at-home mum had turned my brain to mush; that writing about my life and experiences as though they were noteworthy or interesting would make me look like a total megalomaniac; that putting myself out there would be an embarrassing failure… But I wanted to start writing again so with a bit of effort (and a stern talking-to from myself), I pushed aside these feelings and dived in head first – and it’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Since pressing “Publish” on my first post, the biggest surprise this blog has given me (and its loveliest gift) has been the engagement and sense of community I’ve experienced with readers and other bloggers. I started it as a personal experiment – encouraged by a friend and properly convinced when I read a sweet article on how blogging makes you a better person  (on The Champagne Supernova – now one of my favourite blogs), but it has become a part of my life I wouldn’t want to be without and I think it may have saved my sanity a bit this year.Read More »

Lessons from my Littlest

My first baby was born late at night after a horrific, 21-hour, drug-free (not my idea) labour. When she finally arrived screaming purposefully at the world and I held her for the first time, I wept as much from indescribable relief as from overwhelming love. It felt like we had already walked a long and difficult road together and we were only just beginning. After I was cleared from recovery and we took her back to the ward, her daddy kissed us both good night and we were suddenly alone – a moment I don’t think any mum ever forgets. We looked at each other and I wondered, “What next?” She knew. The dark January night folded itself around us and we both slept. Read More »

Back2School for the Teachers

In a few desperately short weeks, my first baby will be donning the cutest little school uniform and heading off to Kindergarten for the very first time. My feelings about this are a melting pot and I’m sure that as the day dawns an emotional blog post is bound to come pouring out of me. But this week, as the summer weeks stretch (and stretch) out, I’d be lying if I said a small part of me isn’t looking forward to the predictability of the school week – to an externally-imposed routine we can shape our days around, a place for my daughter to go and be exposed to stimuli and influences other than my own. To share just a very tiny bit of the weight of shaping her growing and insatiable mind.

This has got me thinking about the teachers. Oh teachers, you are marvellous and amazing. As I’m preparing to shift a little bit of the childcare at the end of the school holidays, they are about to do the opposite. Many of them are parents themselves, and after a period of full-time childcare they are preparing to go back to their jobs – to educate and stimulate and care for kids other than their own. Read More »

The Fatigue is Real

I never imagined the sheer size of the feelings motherhood would bring on. From the day the test showed that miraculous plus sign, the feelings have been enormous. Excitement, exhaustion, trepidation, uncertainty, fear, relief, joy – and that was before I even met my baby. And then the love – oh, the love, the love! The love that blindsides and astonishes and fills you up and gives you the energy to keep going, the patience to pull through another sleepless night, another tantrum, another suppertime hour that seems never ending. The love is there, always.

Thank goodness.

Because there’s another big feeling we don’t really talk about: the fatigue. I never knew deep-down-to-my-core fatigue until quite recently, and when I finally recognised it for what it was, that blindsided me too. Because I love being a mother. I would walk to the end of the earth for my kids; they are my every dream come true and I am fiercely grateful for them every single day. And yet, as the haze of new baby number two started to clear, I could feel that something wasn’t right. There was a cloud hanging over me, and it was sapping my joy and, worst of all, taking away from my ability to do my job as a mum. It wasn’t physical tiredness – although there is always that as well. It was something else – something bigger. More ominous.Read More »

My Little Woman of the Future

To my darling little woman of the future,

We have been learning about crossing roads, you and I. We are very particular – even if there isn’t a car in sight we will not go until there is a green man.

Yesterday we were waiting at the pedestrian crossing, your hot little hand in mine, and all was well with the world. “Green man means go!” we said in unison when the light changed. “Mummy?”, you said as we started walking. It was your thoughtful tone. The one that always tells me A Very Important Question is about to follow (like, “What colour are dragons?” or “Why doesn’t the sun melt the moon?”).

Then your three-year-old self said this: “Why is it never a green lady?”Read More »