Babies are the new glass ceiling

There seems to be a perception (outside of female CEOs with a crèche built into their office like an en suite bathroom) that you cannot balance motherhood with a demanding career. As a woman who has worked hard to establish myself in work I found it difficult to comprehend that the moment I had a baby I was no longer deemed good enough to do a complex job. Now the main reason behind this is that we still live in an age where the male species (even those with children) think that mothers will be spend their day obsessed by the well being of their child, counting down the minutes until home time or running out of the office early because they can’t bear to be apart from their pride and joy a minute more. Now this does happen in real life with a small minority of women but it seems to be enough to tar us all with the same brush.

Word in the office is that children can hinder your career – a woman’s not a man’s but there doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation why. As it stands I only work 4 days a week because it is cheaper for me to stay at home rather than pay the crèche for an extra day, however, when I have mentioned that I am going for promotion (whilst working part time) I have been met with an interesting view from male colleagues who think that it is nigh on impossible to do a “real” job in 4 days. Because if you work part time the work you carry out is deemed to be ‘not as important’ as a full time man’s job but it does give you more time to do other jobs such as hovering, shopping and dusting. I was floored when those words were uttered because he was being serious. Women can be multi skilled across home and in certain parts of business but are not capable of being multi skilled at the top levels working less than 37 hours a week.

There is enough guilt placed on mothers who want to spend time with their children but have worked hard to build a career and don’t want to lose their skills without being told that the decision to have it both has been taken out of your hands by someone who thinks they know better. It is a known fact that mothers are the best at multi skilling, can organize tasks weeks in advance and don’t drop the ball when things come out of left field because if we were to fail at the million things that we have to contend with on a daily basis the world would cease to exist.


Back to work…back to reality

Walking out of the office on my first day back I could have sworn that I had just taken a week off not a 6 month break to have a baby…

That morning as I walked into my new office in my new work clothes (which took two pairs of tights to create the illusion that I had lost the baby belly) I felt as if I had gone back in time but with a niggling doubt that something significant had happened. After an hour of being in work it was as if I had always been in the office, baring in mind that I had only been in my new job 10 days before I went off to have a baby. It was like being in a parallel universe at the moment that de ja vu hits.

I had witnessed other women coming back from maternity leave looking shell shocked and showing classic signs of separation anxiety. These women were treated as fragile creatures who were allowed to work reduced hours because the thought of being away from their baby was too much to take. As I did not show this level of distress (because I was quite glad to have a few hours away from being mammy) I was treated like any other normal worker and promptly drop-kicked into the deep end without question. All working mothers who are rapidly approaching their first day back will have many sleepless nights worrying how to juggle a full time job with childcare and trying to be the best mother all at the same time. I spent so much time worrying how I was going to manage that some days the fear that it would all fail would terrorise me, which in turn made me terrorise the other half with my exaggerated fears and multiple game plans.

I am now 6 weeks in and I can say (holding all lucky charms) that I have found a happy medium between work and home life. Yes there is still a mountain of ironing to be done but that has been the case for the past 7 months and all my clothes are now made of sheer non-iron material, and sometimes the working day gets too tiring so I order our tea in rather than make another pasta bake! It’s not an easy task finding the balance and I know full well that there will be days where it will all fall over but then if it didn’t go wrong now and again what would I have to write about?