Thursday, October 11, 2012

Working mother of 5

Don't you think that sounds like it could turn up in a newspaper one day to describe me?

Funny thing is, while it is true, I feel much more defined by the 'mother of 5' (who also has a paid job) than the 'working' part of the description.

I loved being on holidays with my kids.  Admittedly holidays is such bliss in our house because there is no running around with music lessons, swimming, sport etc.  So it is a bit of fantasy land when compared to normal term time.

Holiday cubby building - he actually slept in this for two nights!
But I suffered such a lot of grief and withdrawal when I went back to work this week.  I just missed being around my kids (even though they also drive me a bit mental at times).

And I feel a little bit like I'm not quite tough enough.  That I'm meant to be desperate for the working side of my life, because the kid side is just not enough to make me a whole person.

It didn't help me much that on Sunday there was an article in the paper talking about all the outsourcing that two working mothers did to enable them to work full time.  This was to leave them free for the 'core competencies' of parenting (Project Offspring ringing any bells folks?).

Apparently the 'core competencies' are the things you can't pay someone to do for you.  Like spending quality time with your child (none of this bathing, cooking, cleaning nonsense) - which btw has been debunked as an effective parenting strategy anyway.

While I do work, I have to admit that I still feel much pleasure in doing bog standard mundane housey type activities for my family.  Cooking, shopping, washing, cleaning (even though this one I don't love).

I think that if I outsourced all these activities I would (a) not be helping my kids learn ordinary life skills  and (b) not show my kids that life is not just about hanging out together cuddling on the lounge, (or earning money) but involves doing stuff for each other - caring for and serving each other in the day-to-day stuff of life.

So I live with a tension that exists for me within the 'working mother of 5' descriptor and sometimes wonder if I'm alone on this one.

3 comments:

Jean said...

Definitely not alone. I might not be in paid work right now but I have been at points over the last couple of years, and I felt/feel this tension every day as I "balance" (horrible word!) the many hours of ministry and motherhood. And I totally agree about the "boring" stuff like cooking and cleaning and serving each other. Thanks again, Jennny.

Tasmanian said...

Also agree - you are not alone. People constantly comment "I don't know how you do it" and I keep replying "My husband is awesome" because he's doing the "mundane" stuff (and the cubby building stuff) at the times I am out being paid. The biggest trick for me is that I work with children in my paid work, and have heaps of energy to be creative and patient AT WORK... not so much energy for those things at home. But I think the normal everyday things create opportunities for showing love to our kids, demonstrating kindness, and allowing for conversations that can't be squished into "quality time."

Jenny said...

Thanks for your encouragement. I'm with you Tasmanian - my husband is a legend and does so much (and always has) to keep the show on the road. I do also find it hard to not be grumpy with my own kids after keeping it together at school all day. I try to switch modes as much as possible when I get from work so I'm in 'home mode' and try and think differently about what I'm doing.