This post is not about gin, though if I were partial to a gin, I would have poured myself an extra-large one after yesterday. In my eyes, gin isn’t the ruin of mothers, the true ruin? The pressure we place on ourselves.
Yesterday I had two important meetings. I had the notion that having them at home would be the best option. I work from home, everything I need access to is here; my office, computer, portfolio, so why shouldn't it be the best option? Like many of my 'good ideas', the good part didn't last long. I awoke to find that the house had been trashed in the half hour that the kids were up before me. Despite leaving the kitchen immaculate before bed, there were breakfast dishes piled high (clearly opening the dishwasher is an impossible task), spilt cereal all over the floor (the type the dog won’t hoover up) and toys were littered everywhere. I went from thinking I had the simple task of showering, dressing and delivering the children to their various childcare options to realising I had to do that, clean the house and still find time to arrange everything for the meeting, including cooking lunch, because a lunch meeting is always a good idea, isn’t it?
By half eleven I was close to tears, panicked that everything hadn’t been done and I wouldn’t appear professional once my clients arrived. There was a momentary rant along the lines of, ‘why am I expected to do everything alongside my work, while my husband can go to work then return home and relax, his meal prepped, the house clean, it’s not fair.’ At the time it really didn’t feel fair at all. Yes, I chose to work from home, because I wanted to be there for my kids, but wanted the independence of my own job too. I never thought all the housework would fall onto me alone. That bringing up my children whilst trying to complete work e-mails would leave me feeling guilty that my children witness me zone into a screen, while I give them a hard time about it. It’s enough to make anyone scream.
Despite my hesitations, the meetings went very well, I bagged both jobs, even though there were toys under my dining room table and the washing machine was whirring in the background. By the evening, kids happily settled, delicious dinner on the table, a toast to celebrate such a successful day, my morning’s rant felt trivial. The truth is there was no one putting pressure on me, except me. My clients know that I flexi work, the two in question are both parents too, they were aware that by agreeing to come to me for a meeting meant that they would be submerged in a child friendly environment, they were not expecting a minimalistic office. Nobody expected perfection except me.
Mother’s ruin really is the harsh reality of trying to juggle too much, but we don’t always have to do it. My husband had never insisted that a meal is ready for him when he gets home, we are not living in a rendition of Stepford Wives. Had I once told him I was struggling and could he help, he would have happily done so, he is not an arsehole. Likewise, whilst sometimes they drive me crazy, my kids are not arseholes either. My eldest is almost eight. I could have asked her to clean up the kitchen mess, load the dishwasher, sweep up the cereal. She is perfectly capable, but no, instead I bitched under my breath about doing everything around here while they vegged in front of the TV. It was totally unnecessary. Asking for help doesn’t make me any less of a good parent, it just makes me human.
There will always be pressure to perform as a parent, there will be near endless to do lists, there will be the persistent guilt that you are not getting things right, or you are not there enough, but don’t let that pressure ruin everything. Don’t judge yourself on your failures, only your triumphs, take each day as it comes, and never be afraid to ask for help.