I've never believed that women can have it all. I've rarely, if ever, seen a solid example of it and Lord knows many of us try our hardest to be and do everything, but somewhere along the line, something suffers. You juggle being a corporate mum so you clock up the hours and play the game but one day it dawns on you that you don't spend a huge amount of time around your child or they call the childminder 'mummy' by accident.
You stay home with your children but wake up one day realising that you love your kids but you've lost your identity, and possibly even your mind down to brain drain. You try and juggle work and parenting in equal measures but whilst you're at work you have to work extra hard because you're a 'part timer' and a 'mother' having uncomfortable conversations that start with :"You know I told you that I have to leave at 4pm to ensure I get to the childminder on time...".
Plus, then when you're at home you try to make up for the time you've been at work but have a gazillion chores, you're still feeling guilty (and knackered), and you've got people badgering you about work even though you're 'off'. Trouble is, as a mother, you're never 'off'.
The funny thing is that despite looking around and seeing how hard it is when trying to have it all, you inadvertently fall into the trap of putting yourself under immense pressure and spreading yourself thin. As women, we're natural over-givers, over-nurters, overachievers, over-doers, over-analysers, over-worriers, and pretty much ‘over’ everything.
We're likely to tie our value and self-esteem into how we manage all of these external things, forgetting that part of it all is taking care of ourselves. When things go tits up, we give ourselves a really hard time and believe we're 'failures' rather than humans, whereas men, bless them with their penises and oversized egos, just don't give themselves as hard of a time.
Since becoming a mum I've gone through all sorts of emotions, many of them good, but since I started working and then became self-employed earlier this year, I have never felt so challenged, given myself such a hard time, and felt like I was going utterly crackers. I know I can't do it all and yet as if like magic, the moment that the hazy glow of maternity leave lifts and you have to make a decision about what you do next, it's like the road well travelled to a guilt trip and constantly busting your own proverbial balls. Like many a woman, I have found myself trying to be superwoman on many an occasion and have tried to interject on myself, but just can't stop falling into the trap. It's so frickin’ annoying!
I speak to my many 'mama friends' and almost all are going through the same thing. We're like zombified sheep on the trail to multitasking mecca where we expect to find nirvana and have everything slot into place. It doesn't matter whether we're working or not working; it's a real challenge to get that balance of being mother, partner, employee/business owner, and 'you'.
If any unexpected things get thrown your way, which is highly likely when you're a parent, you can be sure you're dropping balls in one of those areas, and the likeliest casualty is you. As women, we almost expect not to treat ourselves well, but we'll work hard to be and do everything as a parent, partner, and worker.
So what's the answer? There is no perfect answer just like there's no perfect life, but I do know that something has to give. Thankfully, the instances of people saying shite like 'Just don't work then!' seem to be drying up for us mothers because of two words: credit crunch.
Many of us have to work and actually, most of us want to. I have been reprimanding myself for trying to be superwoman for a few months now, but a horrendous week at work where technical issues actually prevented me from doing much, I suddenly realised that the sky doesn't fall down when I don't work like a trojan horse.
Most interestingly, I realised that if my life isn't balancing too great, it's not work, the house, the bambino, or the boyf that creates it, it's me. I put too much pressure on myself, too much expectations, and don't say ‘no’ often enough.
Note to self: Must try harder to let myself off the hook.
Image via BBC News