Do it all? Give me a Break!

24 Sep 2011

This question has been hung out for airing within the debating arena again.

We are talking about whether working mothers can excel in all areas of life, more specifically raising children and keeping the family home. As can be expected you have us women commenting about what's right and wrong about going out to work, making compromises and leaving baby at home.

I sit in my office chair and wonder why this question has us (women) at each others' throats again. I question, should I, could I be a stay at home mum? I admire those ladies (and men) who do and do it so well. I love my kids and I am proud of my family, but I also enjoy my work and feel privileged to have a career where I can help people. Does this fact make me and mothers like me an open target for harsh criticism and disdain?

And what about those ladies who are at home doing a thankless task, without remuneration and on duty 24/7 basis. Should they be seen as less worthy and looked down upon because they don't adorn a suit and kitten heels? I don't want to engage in a fight with someone else's choices and most certainly not with someone else's unhelpful proposition, and what a question anyway!

What is the purpose of this question? Where does this discussion lead us? I was always under the impression that, a problem that can't be solved turns into a rumination at best and a vicious circle at it's worst.

Turning this proposal over in my mind, I realise that not only do I have to work, even if didn't I would choose to work and raise my children. That's my choice and I am living with the ups, downs and roundabouts of the hectic life I have made for myself. I don't want wagging fingers pointing out that I have forgotten my daughters PE kit, or the rolling eye if I can't get to every 9am assembly.

I have worked hard at forgiving myself for not being a "superwoman" I have come to accept that I shall and will always make mistakes. I have embraced the fact I am doing the very best for my family and me right now, that's what really matters, that is what makes me human. And I like being me!

Competitiveness, criticism and high standards have no place here, we are all wading in the waters called life, and sometimes we need to lean on stronger more skilled swimmers until we can being to tread water and make it back to the bank on our own. It is so hard sometimes to fight the waves and I see many of my mothers who have often felt that they were drowning, as a result of the lack of support around them.

Supporting each other as parents is so close to my heart as not only do I require help at times but because judgments and critic from others stops so many of mothers coming forward and asking for help when they have trouble with their children's sleeping. They would rather suffer sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment than be seen to fail as mothers in front of those who know them.

And why is this the case? I shall hazard a guess, the expectation that we should be able to do it all, feed, clean, care and get our kids to sleep in one full swoop. Having a child who is a poor sleeper is NOT a sign of failure, needing help to understand your child's behaviour does not make for a bad parent. A sign of great strength is knowing and being able to ask for help.

In my office drawer I have a prescription pad, where I will be making recommendations for all who have fallen ill and suffering from callousness to get a double dose of compassion. We no longer have a society where we all have a choice about returning to work, we have situations, tragedies and lifestyles that make this question about doing it all a mute point.

Do it all? Why should we? Give me a break!

I don't know any CEO of a company that does it all, they delegate and bring in the best people for the job. We could learn a lot if we tried to adopt this model into the way we view parenting whilst working. The way some people think is quite simple, you have a problem, and you can't fix it, get someone in who can.

Your boiler blows, you call a plumber, your car breaks down you call a mechanic. There is no shame and definitely no blame, if your child wont sleep calls someone who can help.

So here are a few compassionate words for the wise:

1) If your child wont sleep and you want to bring them into bed do it, don't worry about long lasting habits, I have never had a parent call me saying they cant get their 18 year old out the family bed.

2) If your child falls asleep in the car or pram once in a while it's not the end of the world and wont break their sleeping pattern. You can always get back on track.

3) Having your baby sleep on your chest is not spoiling them, Get in as many hugs and kisses as you can when they are young, trying to catch my 18 year old for a quick cuddle and is kiss is an impossible task.

4) Forgive yourself and learn to view every mistake as a great opportunity to learn something new. You are not alone!

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