Saturday, December 21, 2013

J for Juggling

Sometimes I think that motherhood is one intricate juggling act. It's a delicate balance of making sure there is enough of you to go around while being a super mum, a loving wife, a strong career woman, a good friend and trying to get a little personal time in there as well. But can we really have it all? And if we can, is it even worth it?

Before baby, I worked as an IT consultant. I did, and still do love my job. I worked long hours. When clients said jump, I said how high, and worked the time needed to deliver exceptional results. I would travel all the time, and happily live out of a suitcase and eat hotel meals for months. And then I got pregnant. And I had Ellie. Suddenly my priorities changed. We never had titles where I work. We fill whatever role needed, whether that was a manager, a tester, an analyst or something else. Now, as I tell everyone, the title that gives me the most pride and joy is "mama".

Coming back to work was a huge adjustment. A spot at daycare came up when Ellie was seven months old and I took it, because everyone knows you don't turn down your daycare of choice. I'm not going to lie, there were tears from her, and lots from me too. It was really hard to leave her with someone else after I'd spent the last seven months living and breathing her. It was really hard to come back to work while I was still breastfeeding and deal with everything that involved, from logistics through to clothing. It was excruciating not being able to see my mother's group whenever I wanted, as we splintered into the 'mamas who work' and 'mamas who don't' groups. It was just a frame of reference as those who hadn't gone back to work didn't really understand what it meant. It was hard to hear about what the mamas at home were doing when I was at work away from my baby.

I'll be honest though. It wasn't all doom and gloom. At work, I get to mentally stretch myself. I get to eat my lunch without sharing, and I get to go to the toilet whenever I want without someone trying to unroll all the toilet paper. I can leave the room and no one screams in outrage and demands to be carried. However, I don't really travel now, although I have done a couple of short trips for a few nights. In those cases, I Facetime with Mr Fork so I can talk to Ellie when she wakes and before bed. I don't work the long hours anymore, and I don't go to as many functions as quite frankly, I'd rather be home spending quality time with my family. So life has changed. Obviously for the better!


Mr Fork and the hounds are very understanding, as a change in my routine inevitably means a change in theirs. We have all had to make adjustments and take extra responsibility to make it happen. At the beginning we were all so exhausted that we would practically fall asleep in our dinner (which we all would eat at separate times anyway). Now, we have it down pat. I will get Ellie going for the day and we will eat breakfast together while Mr Fork works out and then gets ready for work. He will dress Ellie and help brush her teeth while I get ready. When I'm ready, I will pack her daycare bag and he will go to work. Ellie and I play at home and then we're out the door by 7:15. Mr Fork picks her up at 4:30, empties her dirty nappy bucket and gives her a bath. If he gets time, he will start dinner based on our meal plan or I do it when I get home around 5:30 on a good day. Somehow everyone is fed in the storm of evening activity, and Ellie is in bed by 7. Then we have a chat and catch up on our day. Rinse and repeat each day.

I am back at work 3 days a week, and I resent it when someone says I only work three days. No, actually, I work full time, seven days a week. I only get paid for three of them. I know which days are my favourite ones though.

Life is very busy now, in ways I never expected. People think that on my days off, I can swan off to the hairdressers and just get things done. I can't. My day works around Ellie's routine. Let me tell you, my 14 month old wouldn't sit still long enough to let me get my hair dressed. I can't take her lots of places for the same reason. My days not at work are spent playing with Ellie, because that's her job and because I enjoy watching her discover new things. There is no *me* time and some days, I breathe a sigh of pure relief when Mr Fork comes home. Some days I wonder where all the time went because it just speeds by. 

Look at that face! Why would I want to miss moments like this?
Weekends we have swimming lessons and then commitments vary. This time of year is very busy with lots of social gatherings bus usually weekend days are a little more relaxed. I sometimes even get to spend a few extra minutes in bed while Mr Fork entertains Ellie and brings me a coffee. Those few minutes help me keep sane and remember that I am more than a wife and a mother and an employee. It reminds me to take a few moments and just focus on me. And, it's lovely. But nowhere near as lovely as cuddles from my husband, child and furbabies. Life might be busy, and it might be a big juggling act, but I wouldn't swap it for anything.

How do you juggle everything that needs to happen in your life? Do you have help?

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