Wednesday, 4 November 2009

The view from here (is blocked by the ironing pile)

Two days into the first proper week of my new life, and fantasies of wafting about making jam have admittedly yet to come true.
The tally so far:
number of cakes baked: 0
number of rows with Orange call centre over new mobile not working: 1 (but a really long one)
number of times caught news of MPs' expenses/ Lisbon treaty rows and sort of wished I was still in the thick of it: 2.
number of over-mighty individuals held fearlessly to account: 1
nature of searching question to said individual: "Darling, why did you post mummy's credit card down the gap between someone else's floorboards? Why? Why?"

What I'm realising is that if unless you're careful, a portfolio career could end up nearly as frantic as the proper job you've left behind. During the last two days I've done an interview for GMTV about working motherhood (Lorraine Kelly is exactly as nice in real life as she seems on TV) which goes out Thursday morning, a whirl of meetings with people I may possibly end up working for, taken a fair few phone calls from my old office, and I'll be up half the night finishing a freelance commission.
It looks like I may be doing more TV at the weekend, and the promise I made to myself that I wouldn't take any new work on until Christmas has just been broken.
On the other hand, for the first time in years I've had time to take my son to an aquarium in the middle of a weekday, build a train track all over the livingroom carpet, and spend a blissful afternoon with two mothers from my old antenatal group watching our children run round shrieking hysterically while we ate lots of cake. And at least the late night writing will get done in my pyjamas, with a glass of wine, not in an office.
But it's keeping that balance that's going to be crucial. Meanwhile the house looks like a bombsite, I just got the first parking ticket I've had in years, and there are more clothes in the ironing pile than in the wardrobe.
Am telling myself that it is Very Important not to get swallowed up in mundane domestic stuff just because I'm at home. Don't see the traffic warden buying it, though...


  1. give up on the ironing - it's overrated.

  2. Ironing flattens itself.. if left in a pile for long enough.

  3. Simply put the ironing pile in the wardrobe, and you'll find the balance immediately restored on that front at least.

    I gave up ironing years ago, and I don't even own an iron any more. It's nothing more than make-work demanded people with an overbearing hatred of creases. We should simply redefine creases as the "in look", and we could probably switch off a power station or two. So if people ask, you're just doing your bit for the environment. You can then make *them* feel bad about being all ironed at devastating cost to the planet and our grandchildren.

    It's possible I may have spent slightly too long thinking about this.

  4. Having your cake and eating it is exactly what you should be enjoying right now.

    Forget adding in the baking bit for the time being !

    Remember you cut a holiday short - you owe yourself and your family those still to be taken days.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your Observer article and it struck a chord with me too. I'm a journalist (in a much smaller way) and really missed the day job when I had my kids. Unlike you I didn't go back after maternity leave. At first I really missed my job. It felt like a bereavement. I couldn't look at a newspaper for years! But then I got used to it and I loved being at home with my daughters. Oddly enough I'm back at work now covering maternity leave for my successor - but I'm freelance and only work during school hours in term time. At the moment it seems the ideal solution - and it's nice to have money to spend that I've actually earned.

    PS: Ironing - only the bits that show...

  6. I read your article at the weekend and just want to say, blooming good for you! I used to be a construction manager and in the end I realised the industry simply took too much from me (everything) and gave nothing of value in return. Even before I had a child I knew it could not continue. It's so bad that we have to make these choices but since we do, I think we have made the right ones. The only thing is, and it makes me boiling mad, that our places are taken and nothing changes in terms of what work requires from a person. Surely we can be a bit smarter in the c21st.

  7. Just wanted to say I loved your article (being a stay at home mum, only just found the time to find my way to the blog...) I will be reading your blog with interest! I went back to work part time after my daughter was born and struggled with the feeling of being a part time mum, part time employee and not much good at either! I'm now pregnant again and when the chance came to relocate due to my husband's career it was an easy decision for me to give up work completely at least for now (I'm a translator and now have a vague plan of going freelance).

    What really struck a chord was not the guilt at leaving your child, everyone knows and expects that in any article about working parents, but the feelings of guilt at giving up on your education, your career, your ambitions. Was this really what I slogged away at uni for, to give it all up 5 years into my career? And what advice will I give my daughter when she grows up? That she can do anything she wants? Or that she should choose a career that fits neatly around motherhood or she'll regret it?

    Anyway, we moved house last week, so I've been a stay at home mum for 1 week and counting. Today I baked with my little girl for the first time. So far so good!

  8. firstly thanks all for bothering to post - nice to know i am not rambling (entirely) to myself! louise, that was a really interesting point about the signals we send to our kids by the work choices we make. i have a son rather than daughter but also worry about this - the one thing that worried me about writing the Observer piece was not wanting to deter bright young women from careers in journalism and/or politics before they'd even started, yet not wanting to pretend everything was rosy. you have set me thinking!