Learning to be a special Mum…

Yesterday,  I was having one of those days where everything felt like it was getting the better of me.   Work deadlines were looming in on me,  the house needed a tidy,  there was no food (you don’t want to see me hungry) and the kids were driving me….well…bonkers.   My daughter has developed a habit of following me around EVERYWHERE recently,  and trying to do what I am doing.  This includes the toilet, the shower, on the phone, inside, outside….everywhere.  It is at once both utterly and totally adorable, and incredible infuriating.

I had a work email that I had to get finalised, and as usual, she was right by my side. Trying to tap the keyboard, asking me questions.  “Can you please just leave Mummy for 5min”  I said “I just have one thing to finish”.   But no…she stayed.  She took my pen, and ripped a page from my work book to draw on.  “Look…you need to go pumpkin…Mummy has to work”.   Nope, still there.   Still talking.  I can’t stand it, i can’t concentrate..I can feel the rage coming.  Can’t I just finish one damn email on my own without an interruption.  “Can you spell Special” she says .  “NOOOOOOOO I CANNOT…JUST GO AWAY”  I scream.   Undeterred…she keeps asking and asking,  and then starts rummaging through my things.  “OK, if I spell Special will you leave me alone!” I yell.   And so I do…and she skips out of the room.    At which point I look down and see this….

2014-10-24 08.38.19OMG!  My heart just shattered into a million little pieces.   I collapse onto my desk.  I can’t do this.  I’m failing.  I’m an awful horrible mother.  I have my priorities all wrong.  Why do I let my work priorities interfere with family.  This shouldn’t have happened.  Maybe I shouldn’t even be working.   My children need me.  They are going to grow up before I even know it and I will regret that I didn’t give them more of my attention.  The mother guilt is flowing through me like lava, I feel sick, exhausted, terrible.

OK Claire…lets pull on the handbrake here and try to let Mrs Logical Brain put this into some perspective…

Firstly,  it is impossible to give your children 100% of your attention all the time.  It is OK for children to learn that they need to give you some space, sometimes.   And that there are plenty of other amazing things in our house that they can amuse themselves with if they try.   Sure,  this was not my finest motherhood moment.   If I’d kept my calm and just given her my attention for 5min,  helped her find something else to do,  then i could have done the email and probably no incident would have occurred.  Sometimes we learn the hard way and this was one of those times.  It doesn’t make me bad or horrible.  It just makes me not perfect.  Learn and move on.

Secondly,  this is not only a working Mum’s scenario.    Even the stay at home Mum’s I know have this same dilemma.  I could just as easily have been trying to talk on the phone, pay a bill, or feed a baby… requiring the child to have to wait their turn.   So, this does not mean that I shouldn’t be working and that my priorities are all wrong.  It was just a tough day.

And finally,  I don’t think my daughter is quite old enough for emotional bribery (yet?!),  so she didn’t draw this picture because she wanted to make me feel bad.  She drew it because she wanted to make me feel good.   She drew it because maybe…just maybe…I’m not actually a horrible, bad mother.  Maybe, actually,  I’m a rather special one…who is not perfect all the time,  but is special anyway.

So,  I picked myself up.  Dusted myself off.   Made a cup of tea and finished that damn email.   I put my beautiful picture in pride of place right in the centre of my whiteboard.   It is going to remind me,  that despite the occasional blip, my children might still think I am special.  And when I cuddled my daughter in bed last night, I reminded her just how special she is to me too.

claire2

I totally need a wife…

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freephotosbank.com

I was lying in bed this morning reading a magazine and drinking my tea (I know…blissful, right!), and stumbled upon an article by Annabel Crabb in Marie Claire about women needing wives.   Now, I don’t get on my soap box very often about women’s issues and I really don’t want to start complaining (which incidentally was the other article I read about in the magazine, but hey we’ll talk about that another day) but geez did this hit a hot button for me.

Oh my goodness, how I could do with a wife!

It really is incredible when you think how much women in the workplace has changed over the last 50 years, yet men in the workplace has not shifted much at all.   Pretty much every woman I know is the one who has made some compromise on her work in order to juggle her children.   And I have never thought about it in the context that Crabb presented.     I do feel sometimes like I am working with one hand tied behind my back (literally, sometimes, like the day I presented a plan during a teleconference whilst simultaneously holding a bowl for my son to spew in…again, a story for another day).

When my husband needs to work late or travel overseas, it is one quick phone call to the household manager (e.g me) and so it is done. Yet, when I had to travel recently for work, it was a major production, there were spreadsheets, child co-ordination systems and incredible pre-planning (on my part).

No wonder women find it so hard to get ahead.

I can’t sit here and blame my husband. I do work slightly less hours and have an incredibly flexible workplace and boss. And at least in part, it is my fault. Yep, I confess, I’m a control freak and there is a part..deep down inside of me…that feels proud when I manage to successfully juggle it all.   Mission accomplished. I am woman hear me roar…all that!

But this morning I imagined a world where I came home to a beautiful clean house with food smells wafting from the oven. The washing done, folded and put away.  Where my children had been picked up from school and cared for by someone I love and trust.   Where if I needed to work late I could just do that, instead of mentally trying to work out when I might have an hour free that I could squeeze in that last bit of work (10pm perhaps?).   Would I be more successful at work?   Would I be happier?

Ok..time to wake up, ‘cause that ain’t happening.   However, perhaps it is time for us to revisit priorities in our house. Maybe it is time for me to let go on some things and push a bit harder on others, and not let the guilt eat at me. Maybe things have shifted a little too much out of my favour.

I don’t have a wife…but I have a husband and a family…who are pretty awesome, and capable and amazing (just like me!!)…so maybe they could do a little more to help even things out so that we are all capable of succeeding.

claire2

Confessions of a Corporate Mum

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Ever wondered what other women are thinking?

I remember years ago, attending a conference where the CEO of Carnival Cruises in Australia spoke.   It was an honest and upfront discussion about her challenges as a woman in leadership and she confessed to many of the insecurities she felt on a regular basis.  She told a great story about her first weeks on the job,  when there was a crisis and she was called on in the night…and in her mind, she panicked  “I don’t know what to do, am I ready for the job etc.. etc”… that same voice that many of us have in our heads.

This really stuck in my mind and I often think about it.   I loved the honesty of her presentation and it only made me admire her more.   Women are terrible (at least most of the women I know are) at comparing themselves with others.   We look at what other people are doing and we wonder “why can’t I be like that,  they have it so together, they really have it all”.   Social media in a way can make this a lot worse,  we see posts of happy families, success and joy.  I can’t remember the last time I saw someone post a photo of themselves looking tired and haggered,  yelling at their children because they have been pushed to the brink,  a vein popping in their forehead as they worry about getting all the work completed in their paid role before they scramble home to start their home “job”.

The reality is a much more complex patchwork quilt than the image we portray on the outside would sometimes convey.

And so…as I was contemplating this all, I realised that this is what I want my blog to be about.  I want to share with you my journey as a working Mum in the Corporate world.   To give you insights into my own insecurities, my challenges as I juggle all my commitments, as I try to be all the things I so want to be…a good mother, a great wife, a successful corporate leader and of course, look after my own health, well being and sanity in the process.   Sometimes my life is fun, sometimes my life is chaos, sometimes I am radiating happiness and other times I want to curl up and cry in the corner.

By letting you behind my curtain,  I’m hoping I will help others to realise that underneath it all,  we are all battling the same demons,  the guilt, the struggles.  The elusive balance that we strive to achieve doesn’t happen in perfect sync,  some days are still just hard.    I also hope to share some of the things that I have learnt in my journey so far,  the tools, tips and techniques that have helped and inspired me.

And in return,  I hope that my stories inspire you, to give you some sunshine on a cloudy day.  To remind you that you are not alone, that you don’t have to be perfect to be successful.  To have the grit and determination to keep going.  I will be so happy if I can help just one person be more than they ever thought they were capable of.

So why don’t you follow me on the journey?…lets do this….

claire2