Since joining the wonderful world of the inter web back in February this year I have been stunned at the proliferation of women who are truly BOSSING their lives. The lack of options presented by the traditional workplace once “Project Procreation”, as Mother_Pukka would put it, has commenced has pushed a whole section of the female population into harnessing Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to make, bake, blog, vlog, stock, curate and picture-take in an effort to make work, work for them.
And it’s easy to feel a little, well, demoralised. I, for one, am no #MUMboss and while many of the women I follow and admire post images and captions telling the hoards that being a mum is enough, it remains incredibly difficult to ignore the word “just” that is so glaringly absent from that sentence. We keep being warned about the “glorification of busy” and yet ironically, the people warning us about the dangers of filling every moment and spinning several plates are the ones who are doing exactly that. And boy does it breed discontent.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am struggling to marry up my conflicting desires to be present in my children’s lives, while also carving out a meaningful existence that is just for myself. Call me selfish, call me vain, call me any one of the name that the voices in my own head shout out whenever my less sunny side makes its ungrateful appearance but the truth remains that I once was respected for being on top of my GAME. These days it’s an achievement if I keep “on top” of the laundry. And that’s a kick in the teeth, or perhaps shins as that might explain why I’m so often found crawling around on the floor.
But, just like that irritating mosquito that somehow managed to dodge the cloud of insect killer that you sprayed around your hotel room, which is going to suck the life-blood-energy out of you as soon as your defences are down, the whining drone of this mindset is starting to really fucking irritate me. I don’t have the time, or the resources to turn my many ideas into something tangible and I just have to accept that (and try to silence the growling noise that arises out of my depths as I say it). So with that in mind I have decided to revive part of blog post that I wrote a while back which reminds me exactly how skilful being a mum really is (ahem) and how like all mums I actually am achieving things like a #MUMboss…
The last three and a half years has taught me that
passable successful parenting requires the diplomatic skill of Kofi Anan coupled with the business nous of Richard Branson. How? Well, the negotiation aspect of life with a small person is well documented – I imagine it’s much like giving misguided governments around the globe a strong talking to – but less well documented is the similarity between the average mum and a multi-millionaire business man. Prove it, you say? Ok, by my entirely fictional reckoning, just like a female Richy-B with marginally less facial hair, mums make more mental calculations about cost benefit ratios every day than the average CEO of a multi-national behemoth does in a highly-profitable month. Obviously I have no actual grounding for this claim what-so-ever, but I do have a three year old and a one year old, and most of my day does involve balancing the needs of “getting shit done” against “can the baby kill himself doing that?”.
For the purpose of illustration of this not-at-all-completely-bullshit claim here are a few examples:
Scenario 1: letting the baby climb into the shower tray and dismantle the plug while I emptied the washing from the machine and hung it out.
Cost: cannily (accidentally) he was still wearing his pyjamas so the piss-wet through arm he got by sticking it down into the plug hole (weird plug, don’t ask) necessitated only the change of clothes that he would have got anyway.
Benefit: I hung out an entire load of washing without a small person under my feet/ dangling off the bottom rung of the airer/ recruiting the airer as a walker/ pulling off the carefully hung washing. I have a belief that if I hang the washing out straight, ironing is rarely necessary so this last point is key.
Scenario 2: letting The Eldest use the iPad while the BSCB has his morning nap and I “get shit done”.
Cost: ohhh tooo high. After 30 minutes exposed to the mind-altering influence of Peppa’s Paintbox The Eldest turns into a demon-child reminiscent of Chuckie, except high on blue-light and hunting her next fix.
Benefit: none. Nothing makes that worthwhile <shudders>.
Scenario 3: writing a blog post during a tandem nap. The Eldest no longer naps but on a recent car journey home after a play date, both she and the BSCB fell asleep. Upon arriving home I carried them one-by-one into the house. The BSCB was safely deposited in his cot, while The Eldest was placed carefully on the settee in the living room so I could kid myself that I was not ruining bedtime by letting her nap (for the safety of your own mental health, please note that The Eldest has only started allowing us to do this since she STOPPED napping. Don’t torment yourself if, like us for three years, the merest hint of a brush of a sock against carpet as you crept past the bedroom door was enough to rouse your child from his/her nap: I’ve had five minutes sleep, you say?…! Well that’s just fine and dandy, let’s go party! There was no carrying her in from the car and I used to actually curse at passing emergency vehicles – damn you and your sirens that you use to get through traffic to tend to dying people…don’t you know my child is sleeping here…? Having said that, the BSCB could be dangled from his toes and blasted by Storm Imogen and still snuffle and snooze without interruption at lunchtime, but again, before you torment yourself with that thought, this boy hates to sleep at night. We all have our crosses to bear).
SO, they’re asleep, I have a cup of tea and write a blog post. It will only take an hour I say to myself. I’ll wake them up at 4pm so their bedtime won’t be too late. So precisely one hour and thirty minutes later I wake them up.
Cost: the BSCB fell asleep at 9.15pm, The Eldest strung it (and me) out until past 9.30pm <wince>.
Benefit: I wrote a post which gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling of achieving something that can’t be undone with the sweep of one adorably pudgy arm. The cathartic effect of this also spilled over into tea time when I had the energy to turn putting the cutlery away into a game…! Imagine – for a moment I felt like one of those parents who turns daily mundane tasks into games such as Who can put their socks on the fastest? Who can brush their teeth the most? and swear by the positive effect this approach has on their daily interactions with their small people. Now, I’m not doubting that it works because The Eldest always responds with unsurpassable glee at the chance to beat me, but is it just me who finds all the “enthusiasm” a bit, well, exhausting?
Verdict: slim win.
So there you go. Overall, that day was a clear win and it’s blindingly obvious that I’m just like a shit-hot business type person. Now all I need to do is figure out how to get the little buggers to pay me.