Oct 7, 2014

Drama Mama

Parents who don't do paid work outside the home will sometimes blurt out how it must be nice escaping the chaos of home to go to an office with non-sticky surfaces, cafe coffee and lunch breaks, and they are right of course. When your children are very young, work is lovely (and yes, easy) compared to staying at home.

What's hard is managing it - the juggle, the extra organisation required, the 'double shift' piling laundry, food prep and cleaning on top of a day at work, and managing the emotions of tired and overwrought family members - primarily yourself but also the children.

The other bit that's hard is The Drama.

I can't come in today, my kid's sick. I have to leave early, my kid's sick.
I have to go, my kid's just had a melt-down at school.
I'm going to be late, my kid's sick.
I need to work from home next week, my kid has a specialist appointment.
Sorry I'm late, I just couldn't get my kid ready on time today.
Sorry I'm late, my kids are sick and I had to take them to my mother's so I could come in today.
Oh, can I work from home every Thursday for awhile, so I can attend [insert crucial school/kid-related event here]?
Sorry I'm late, my kid got head lice and I had to shampoo the flammable chemicals out of her hair this morning. Oh and I have to leave right on 5 because it's my turn to do the after-school-care pick-up. And can I leave early on Friday, as I have to take my kids to the school disco which starts at 5pm?

All these are not including the myriad number of times you don't attend school events, get a friend to give your kids a lift, have your mother come by the house at 6.30am so you can leave on time, dose your kid with Panadol and send her to school and hope for the best, or win an hour-long argument with your spouse about whose turn it is to take time off work to tend to a sick child.

To make up for late starts I usually take a shorter lunch break, or I stay back a couple of times a week (and that always has consequences at home).  I'm no martyr and my job and employers and my manager are all fantastic, so I'm not complaining. Not at all.

I'm highlighting how embarrassing it is, sometimes. I don't want to be Drama Woman. I don't want to take advantage of my employer's awesome understanding and flexibility. But sometimes you have dramas.

When I was twenty-six I worked for awhile at a cafe run by two sisters. They were fairly wealthy and people grumbled that their husbands had bought the cafe for them so they would have something to do. But they learned the job quickly and they worked really hard, and they were there every day. One day one of them had her two little kids with her during closing time, and while she tried to pitch in and do all her usual work, she just couldn't in the end, so she asked me to do some extra stuff she would normally do herself. I was tired and grumpy and I did not cut her much (any) slack. I was really annoyed she had the kids there. I made it pretty obvious I was annoyed. I had to stay back later because she had kids with her, who did not belong in the workplace. I was not happy that the rest of us had to make up for her (obvious!) lack of organisation and work ethic!

Did I ever give any thought to the fact she turned up every day and worked hard, and never mentioned her kids or how she juggled her life? Did I even consider the fact that this was the only time we ever saw her kids, and that she might have been truly stuck this one day?  Did I have any compassion for what she was dealing with that day? No, I am sorry to say, I did not.  All I saw was... drama!

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  1. As a full time worker, I think I do well to churn out a post every day. That you manage to post anything at all when you have three? children and you work full time is pretty amazing, let alone respond to other people's posts as well.

    1. Thanks Andrew. I have 2 kids and can't imagine coping with 3!

  2. It ain't' easy being a working mother or a non working mother.....there's bound to be drama in either case. Eventually you get old and retire...you'd think the drama would end. Nope.

    1. True. I guess all these "dramas" are actually just "life".

  3. Years ago you would never have been able to get away with those excuses. I think many if not most employers today have learned to be less rigid in order to keep good workers. A little late, leave a little early in many instances that is meaningless compared to keeping an employee who just knows how to get the job done one way or the other, which I'm sure you do.

    BTW...damn, it can't be easy!

    1. I agree - but then years ago I would probably have been a housewife and my husband could have met the strict workplace rules supported by a spouse at home!
      I think I do a good job. It is important to me.

  4. It's a heck of a juggling act, I know that much. It helps if the kids are a bit older and can be trusted to do a bit of the housework for you, for instance a load of washing, put a prepared casserole in the oven, supervise homework for the younger ones.
    I didn't go back to work until my youngest started school, so the older ones picked him up and they all walked home together, then went to a neighbour's house until I got home. I was more lucky that they never got sick, but missing school events that most other parents went to was hard. Harder for the kids than for me, but there really weren't all that many of those type of activities anyway.

    1. I am starting to see the kids helping out more in the house, and it's very welcome.
      Yes - it's a juggling act managing any kind of work with parenting. Sometimes it feels too hard, or too heartbreaking to miss another event. At other times it feels good, with everything humming along well enough. I guess that's the way life is in any case.



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