This discussion may be controversial.
I would like to make it clear it’s intention is purely to share my personal experience as a working parent and is in no way intended to begrudge those who do not share a similar sentiment.
by Nicole Martin
It’s nights like these that I hold my head in my hands. Fatigued, burnt out, empty and unable to find the warmth of yesterday. The seemingly never ending grind has taken its toll once again.
The rain falls behind me, its drops on the roof tap to a constant beat, in varying tones. My cup of tea, so carefully made—three dunks of an Irish breakfast tea bag, one sugar, more than a splash of milk—stares at me and turns cold, as my eyes glaze over, and my body turns limp as I surrender today. The kids are asleep. Finally.
I am a working parent. My career, is my second job. My first, a mother.
The consistent demands on my physical time and my mental capacity can be extreme, where simply keeping one’s head above water requires almost super human organisational skills. The fear of venting this struggle is of enormous proportions as it leaves you vulnerable.
Open to judgement and a feeling of ugly guilt that one is somewhat ungrateful for one’s blessings: Please God don’t take it all away. Recognition and appreciation of my blessings are always in the forefront of my mind, but hard is hard, and sometimes it helps to say so.
School holidays are a logistical nightmare. First, comes the knowledge that the chance of leave is as likely as the moon turning blue on a Sunday…so we eventually give up trying for that one. Only the highly assertive are left to fight for it, year in, year out, and the rest of us, accept our choice.
It’s a choice right? So many keep reminding me that it’s a choice to work as a married woman. For me, a choice indeed. A choice that was not made lightly. A choice that has powerful benefits and a choice with equally powerful consequences. Why do I make this choice? Several reasons. Several, well thought out, stewed over reasons. Have I got it right? I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but in the meantime, I carry on, constantly flipping the two edged sword in pursuit of the answer.
With the inevitable approach of school holidays comes endless discombobulated planning. Camps of any nature are explored. Musical, sporting, crafty…you name it, I don’t care, it’s investigated. Now I don’t know about you, but vacation care is a definite no for any child with even a sniff of teenage attitude. It’s rejected with such rapidity, I can barely catch a glimpse of the idea as it is launched like a rocket inches from my head and out the window. Eventually, a few lightly pencilled in ideas barely resembling a plan are thrown around and accepted as good enough. We get by…
Staying abreast of the plan, day in, day out can be a challenge. Who’s picking them up? Who’s dropping them off? Have I remembered everything for today? Tomorrow? Next week? The thought that I’m simply an awful parent because I haven’t included a vast enough selection in their lunch box…or worse, there’s no food in the house because I was too tired to go shopping, and there’s no cash in the wallet for tuck shop.
The continuous rush, rush, rush, from one thing to another and another, and then to doing it all again the following day, like a record on repeat, ensures your bottle is always full, as there is no time to empty it and rejuvenate. Night fall quickly becomes your only refuge and sleep your dear friend.
When the piles of washing begin to resemble the Taj Mahal, when the kids have played on the computer for the sixth hour in a row and you haven’t even noticed; when you get home after six, the family is hungry, you’ve been in high demand all day and there’s no plan for dinner, when the walls need a wash, the dog fur a vacuum, the bills are screaming to be paid; when your kids have grown a little taller and you worry you missed it happen; when the car needs a clean, the nail polish on your toes looks like a patch work quilt, when you can’t hold your head up for one more minute to listen to them read; when you miss their award, you miss their sports day…you miss their smiles and their laughter because you are at work… the sky turns from blue to grey and day becomes night as the sun sinks into the black hole of guilt and despair.
Sometimes, on nights like these, my cup of tea turns cold, and my days as a working parent are smothered in layers of resentment and regret.