When I was on my hands and knees cleaning up broken glass from the bathroom floor which had smashed thirty seconds before I was due to take the children to school and nursery, and myself into work, I suddenly found myself thinking of Kelly Brook. You know, the model and TV presenter. That might sound like a weird leap – broken glass to Kelly Brook – but she has been sharing her wisdom about working mothers on Loose Women this week. Working mothers like me.
She claimed that working mothers use their children as an excuse to get out of work, and that professional women never discuss their children in the workplace, saying “They know they have to do the school run, they know they have to put the kids to bed, so wouldn’t you figure your career out around those things?”. Um, yeah Kelly, that’s what we’re trying to do…
As I swept up the shards of glass and mopped up the puddle of rose-scented facial spritz which I had knocked off the shelf, I just thought “she hasn’t got a bloody clue”.
I was quite busy after that, explaining to the children that no they couldn’t touch the broken glass in the dustpan and then hustling them out of the door five minutes behind schedule. Being behind schedule is not good for a working mum.
I have to leave home at 7.37am to walk my son to school for breakfast club at 7.45am, then my daughter to nursery (which is in the opposite direction) by 8am. Then if I’m really lucky and she isn’t too clingy I’ll be on the bus at 8.08am and on my way to catch the train (delayed) then the tube (packed) before walking to my office in central London and slumping at my desk at 9am. Sorry, did I say slumping? I meant sitting powerfully in my swivel chair and then switching my mummy button off and my highly professional working woman button on. Anyway, despite the unpromising start with the broken glass and all that, I managed to make it in on time. I know, Kelly WOULD be pleased!
But some mornings I am late for work. There are other days when I can’t get in because one of my children is unwell. But I don’t want Kelly to worry, I use up my annual leave to cover those days! Or if all five weeks have been spent covering the 14 weeks of school holidays, I can just take a day of unpaid parental leave so I can stay at home caring for my child and feeling terribly guilty about being unprofessional and letting Kelly down.
Did I mention turning off my mummy button when I get to work? I was JOKING Kelly. There is no button. I am a mother all the time, even when I’m at work. Sometimes I even talk about my kids with my colleagues even if it does now produce the mental image of Kelly Brook rolling her eyes at me. Most of us are three dimensional humans with lives which extend beyond our jobs, some of those life skills may even be useful in the workplace. And let’s face it, even Kelly Brook talks about her family at work. Just last week she made more headlines discussing how her partner Jeremy stops her from eating dessert two days running.
I know Kelly might find it hard to believe but I am still really good at my job – even though I’m a mum! I am focused, committed, great at multi-tasking and I cram a lot into my three days. I am also driven by a sense of guilt, that if I don’t give it my absolute all every single day I am letting my employer, my colleagues and myself down. And Kelly too, of course.
Perhaps if I was wealthy things would be different, I might have a cleaner or housekeeper to sweep up that broken glass, or a nanny to take the children to school and nursery, then maybe I’d step into a taxi to take me to work. Things would be so much easier! But like most working mums, I can’t afford any of those things because, you know, two years on maternity pay, two years on a part-time salary, four and a half years of nursery fees… But even if I did have all that money and all that help, my children wouldn’t be erased from my life while I was at work, because they are part of me and I am part of them. They are in my heart and mind all the time, even when I’m working.
Although her opinions have ruffled a few feathers, Kelly’s words will have very little consequence. We can all be thankful that she isn’t the head of Gender Equality for the United Nations, or the Government Minister for Women and Equality – she’s not actually in charge of anything except perhaps her own mouth. And that’s debatable.
So I guess I’ll just have to keep on being “unprofessional” by talking about my children at work, and occasionally needing a day off to care for them. And I guess I’ll just have to come to terms with annoying Kelly Brook.
Image credit: @yippywhippy