I recently missed my daughter’s parents’ evening because I was on a business trip. I’ve missed several Christmas concerts over the years and most of my son’s rugby matches. All because I was working.
This is not a confessional. To the contrary; I’m happy to have reached a point where I know there’s nothing wrong with occasionally missing the perfect mummy stuff in preference for doing the job that puts a roof over their heads.
That is the reality of being a working mother.
“There’s more experience among working mothers now,” agrees Katushka Giltsoff, partner at The Miles Partnership. “We’re more confident and realistic, and often more employable as a result. When a woman is capable, having two, four or six children won’t make a blind bit of difference.”
I couldn’t agree more, and I don’t think I’m deluding myself. I know mothers with fewer 9-5 working ties who have far less exemplary records than mine – they just don’t beat themselves up about it. In fact, I think society has been trying to delude me and, for a while, it succeeded.
Too many high-profile mothers have made the rest of us feel inadequate with their giddy claims of the perfect work/life balance, when there is no such thing. Those celebrity mums, who turn ‘Having It All’ into a style statement, are just a little too quick to tell us how their work fits around the school run.
It’s important to bust the myth and say that’s not normal. The days are over when mothers chose how much they wanted to work. Most of us work fixed hours with normal salaries, normal worries about paying the bills, and children who don’t find it too hard to figure out why we’re not around 24-7.
I believe the future is looking good. “Women are more in control,” says Philippa Roberts of Pretty Little Head, a female-focused marketing consultancy. “While many firms have bent over backwards to try to accommodate flexible working, the pace of change is slow. Women are coming up with their own solutions. Companies know that they need women in key roles.”
That, together with ditching the guilt, puts working mothers in pole position.
Main picture credit: Rex Features
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