I’m just travelling back from a two-day work thing in Brighton (yes of course it was pissing with rain) and reflecting on what it took, as a working mum, to be there for nearly the whole thing. Obviously I had to ‘slip out’ twenty minutes before the end, muttering apologies, to get the train home to collect the kids. Standard.
If I’m honest I was quite looking forward to the event. Two days by the sea. The prospect of waking up after 6am, without someone shouting ‘warmmilkiesiPad’ on repeat until I resentfully tumble out of bed, was tantalising. The morning after the night before I would be at liberty to stay up as late as I cared, and crash into my room at whatever time I wanted without fear of waking anyone. I would have the entire kingsize bed to myself for the whole night, with nothing but the lapping of waves (and as it turned out air con unit/ loud A-road outside) to lull me to sleep. Someone would make me breakfast.
But, the day before the conference arrived and the kids were working hard at the emotional blackmail, saying how desperately they were going to miss me. To tell the truth, I felt really sad about leaving them: worse than I have before, even though they’re older. Which, by the way, I think, is a sign that I need to do it MORE, to prepare myself (and them) for when, in ten years time, they sod off on a one-way ticket to Thailand.
Anyway, I kissed goodbye my little sleeping beauties early in the morning and off we went. Relaxing train journey with chat, coffee and croissant. No one to entertain with colouring books and dried up pens and no need to spend half an hour in the stinking train toilet facebooking while one of the kids takes their time. We arrive by the sea and it’s only raining a bit. The conference is super interesting and inspiring and I’m beginning to enjoy my trip out of town.
Then my childminder calls to say she’s sick and can’t look after the kids today.
I’m hours away from home and no chance of getting back which makes me oddly calm.
This is not my problem.
Of course it is though.
So begins a solid hour of surreptitious texting to arrange things to have the kids looked after.
Guess how many texts it took to sort.
20? 30? 50?
I quite literally exchanged 57 texts, not to mention WhatsApps and voicemails to get 24hours of childcare sorted.
Pain. In. The. Ass.
But weirdly not stressful as I knew I couldn’t be part of the solution from the beginning.
Those messages led to no less than six favours from six individuals being called in. All lovely mums that are my real back up network at home. Six favours to return, to pay off some of the mountainous favour debt I seem to live in.
So that was all quite a faff really. Should I have bothered? Wouldn’t it have been easier not to sign up for an overnight work trip in the first place? Or to dash home at the first sign of trouble at the ranch rather than pulling in a million favours to patch things over?
During the conference there was a lot of talk about diversity in advertising and marketing, and one of the speakers talked about their great board of directors who were diverse in their ethnicity, sexuality and abilities/disabilities… and that two of them job shared or worked flexibly too. Working mums are part of diversity in the work place and we should remember that. And the inspiring speaker lady made a good point, that to have your views counted, you need to be there. You need to be visible.
Which made me feel vindicated that I’d left the kids early in the morning.
And glad I’d exchanged those 57 texts.
Because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been at that conference. And maybe nor would any of the other working mums who didn’t want to go through that extra layer of stuff that we have to deal with as a working mum, to do… anything. But if we didn’t make that extra effort, who would be populating the conference: having the conversations, making their voices heard, raising their profile, being visible?
Mainly people without kids and ‘working Dads’; more commonly referred to as men.