Returning to Work: From the frying pan into the mire

The commute

My poor blog has been more neglected than a bikini line in winter. 

I’ve been working full-time you see, and I’ve also been letting things fall through the cracks.

Like many working women, I am still holding the domestic space together while trying to cope with the demands of full-time work. (This survey found that working women generally still do + 17 hours of  housework per week compared to men’s – 6 hours . Hang on, what?)

I’ve managed to forget music lessons and food shops, I’m haphazardly organising birthday parties, homework and play dates. I’m burning pizzas and missing school plays, concerts, and parent’s evenings.

I’m out of the playground and into the commute; away from the frying pan into the mire.

I’m trying to rally the troops, the children and my partner, with lists and memos; I have employed help – a cleaner and a child minder, and I know what a luxury that is.

And yet, and yet…

The jumble and scatter of life squeezes out my writing, these words that are my yoga and my Prozac.

Working life smooths out my edges as I polish myself down and re-imagine a woman I had forgotten; Our Lady of the Meeting, Doyenne of the Filofax, Director of Deadlines. Employee.

No more coffee mornings. No more spending hours honing a blog piece about pants or being a wanker mum.

I’ve been away from office life for so long, I fear that my brain is no longer malleable enough to accommodate the new connections I need to make. All my neurological pathways lead to my kids; they are my entrenched pattern, my learned behaviour.

While my part-time existence as a writer was isolating and badly paid, there was space. Time to reflect and get some perspective… too much fucking perspective to quote what’s-his-face from Spinal Tap.

It is a special kind of asthmatic wheeze, this squeezing out of the days, this stringing out of the hours to the last mote of air. Where are the morsels of time, those spaces in which we breathe?

Tell me how you do this thing you fellow working mums…

10 thoughts on “Returning to Work: From the frying pan into the mire

  1. Oh darling, I have missed you. It sounds like you have missed yourself. I am so sorry you’re returning to what others call Real Life, while those of us devoted to our children (which means you too) call that Real Life and the rest just gets in the way, even though we want to use our brains, need to even, in other ways as well and have bills to pay. I wish you every success with your work – you are a wonderful gift to whomever you are employed by as well as to your family. Much love xxx

  2. How indeed! Having been inspired by so many lovely ladies like yourself, I too started a blog. Purely selfish reasons of course – my brain needed exercise and I needed to start using words other than poo, play-date and crafting again. I went back to work 6 months ago and now can barely remember my own name, let alone write down a single inspiring word. The only notes I have now come to me at 2am to remember that 5 year old has pe or 3 year old is still in the car. Good luck!

  3. Bloody blinding to hear your muff getting razored finally, your words are like music to my ears and i have fallen into the same trap – how i miss having that space to dawdle and think and be – i have to admit that i couldn’t handle it and resigned after six months – but still work for the office – just from afar as in freelancing – still find it overwhelming and creative-sucking too and my poor blog – why i am embarressed to even call it that since i have barely stroked her old muff since waaaay back….how, do they, we do it? time has sped up and i am struck with a desire to jump off the bloody grind…yet in reading and replying to you – you have inspired me and for that i am grateful – merci most kind ms bran

  4. Good to read your thoughts on this, something that so many of us share! I seem to be perpetually stressed about what I call ‘spinning too many plates’. Well, it’s what everyone calls it, I guess. There are always several that crash. When I’m at my best it’s when I’m NOT trying to multi-task. I know, I’ve let the side down by saying that, but if I try to do more than two things at once, (say, for example, ‘breathe’ and ‘type’) then one is done badly. I try to do things ‘mindfully’, you know, where you only think about the moment you’re in, you focus on the one thing in front of you so you see it fully and all that? When I do that I am happier, I get more done and I produce more quality. It may sound a bit Sitting Around on Beanbags, but it really does work for someone who can’t juggle, like me.

    So many of us struggle with this, things have to change.

  5. I hope that you’ll manage anyway to type something occasionally, because it’s really inspiring, entertaining and enjoyable to read it…Good luck in navigating, anyway!

  6. So lovely to see you back on the blog, how I’ve missed you! But ugh to sacrificing your words for full time drudge, but sometimes, it has to happen, and I’ll have to go back to work this year too, when Little A starts school proper. Great that you have a cleaner and child minder though…. and ‘wheeze’ out a blog post when you can…. we all love you! X

  7. Honestly, I have really struggled. At times I have the feeling that I’m nearly there and then it all goes a bit tits up!
    I’ve had to get myself more support – I’ve now got an Au Pair.
    I’ve had to force myself to go to Pilates more often, because I hurt myself after missing a couple of lessons, and I can’t afford that now – so by increasing the lessons, I’m strengthening myself and leaving space to miss some.
    I’m juicing – not posh/clever – just throwing some green stuff in one of those easy ones, with some apples and lemons and ginger – but it gives me a boost.
    I can’t write as much, but I try to write once a month.
    I meditate once a week in a bath for 30mins to try to keep myself sane ;o)
    And I’ve set a couple of deadlines – christmas was one, and then March is another – for things to improve or more support systems to be put in place.
    Because of my fibromyalgia I already had a pile of systems to help the brain – there are white boards, and magnets, and lists everywhere.
    But most of all I need time – time to plan, time to breathe, time to look at it all and work out how to do it all without a headless chicken. When I get that time, it all sort of slots into place (with lots of short cuts) – when I don’t it becomes a stressful mess – and then my fibro kicks off and I hurt.
    There’s no TV watching, no doing stuff out of mis-guided guilt – my focus is purely on the Spa, the kids and keeping myself strong and sure.
    Ironically I should be getting lots of pampers shouldn’t I! But I’m mostly too busy – but I am having a couple of month, and those are helping.

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