Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Half and Whole: Being a Working Mum
At least once a work day, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to drop what I'm doing, turn around and retrace my steps right back to the day care gate as fast as I can.
It's almost as though a pressure lands on my chest, urging me to chuck in the professional towel and cast off my gathered obligations, commitments and professional life choices in favour of the warm hug of play dough and cuddles.
The triggers are usually small things; a child laughing on the tram, a glimpse of my daughter smiling cheekily on the desktop wallpaper, the weekly statement of account from the day care centre landing in my inbox, or finding a piece of chalk or handful of pink hairclips in my pocket while reaching for loose change for my morning coffee.
Sometimes, I feel a sense of personal panic simultaneously grip onto my ovaries and my mind like a vice. Questions slam around me in an anxious frenzy: am I getting the true meaning here, am I missing the best bits, am I doing it right?
Other times, I feel the cold sheet of professional concern creep into my mind. I forecast projected outcomes based on little but emotion and a fluttering of anxiety: can I do this justice, where will I land, how will I even get there?
Most times, I am just knocked out flat by a sense of panicky guilt that I'm letting my daughter, my most precious other little heart with sticky fingers and the cheekiest smile I know, down and further down by the second.
The guilt manifests as a continual sequence of juxtapositions and changing thoughts, influenced by the number of tears at day care drop off multiplied by the quality of the tasks landing on my desk, divided by the drag of the current meter of sleep deprivation clicking through my head.
I suppose this is a living, breathing example of what we all call mummy guilt, a sense of parental anxiety and a feeling of taking too much and giving too little all while just trying to balance the damned scales.
But no matter the approach, the balance never seems quite right. When you have more than one driving force propelling you forward from within, more than one passion oscillating in your brain, more than one big destination on your radar, the target weights just never seem to line up the right way.
No matter how you carve up your day or fill up your calendar or dish out your heart, is starts to feel like the grass is always that little bit greener on the other side - whatever that is, however you get there, and whenever you can.
This isn't a problem, and there is no solution. It is just the way it is for me, a permanent straight split, straight out division lanced down the middle of my two intricately fused yet staunchly disparate halves: mother, professional, confused.
I need both halves to make a whole.
I need the whole to house both halves.
And my daughter needs both the halves and the whole mum together.