In the last book I read (All the Bright Places (Jennifer Niven)) Finch, a troubled teenager struggling to get through says “the great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody”.
After my first day back at work on Monday, I can completely understand this. Only, as a Mum it feels that almost 100% of the time you are different personality to everybody – we can chop and change as quickly is needed (with the role of Mum, always filling the baseline).
At 5.30am I was a chef and one armed food preparer (V2 insists on her food being on her high chair before she will consent to being lowered into it). By 6am I was giving the role of ‘relaxed wife drinking coffee with my better half’ my best shot. When all children were breakfasted and relatively content, I ventured to prepare for my role in the corporate world as I dressed (thanks to a pre-return to work shopping spree this was quite fun!) and did my hair (a new edgy bob meant some nice edgy waves, which I then decided were too fun for a day back at work so back into the Mum ponytail the hair was swept – I will never get those 7 minutes curling time back!).
At day-care drop off, I had to resume the relaxed mum façade even though I was more than a little worried about the first full day away from the kids. At the office, I tried to be the competent, confident and ‘quick to provide the answer’ employee that I was a year ago. By lunchtime I was swimming in a bunch of things I was struggling to understand and prioritise. I made it all the way to 11am before calling to check in on the kids as the role of worrying Mum prevailed (I’m pretty sure the day-care ladies knew the relaxed Mum was just an act!)
Feeling somewhat frazzled and very tired (despite three hot coffees – the perks of working in the office!) at trying to be what everyone else needed, I’d already lost track of the time and was running late. After a quick sprint to the train I settled in to read and finish my book. With spare time to ponder the book, I began to worry about the fact that I was missing the kid’s dinner and baths as the role of guilty mother surfaced.
And then it dawned on me – no wonder I was tired. It’s tiring being a different someone to everybody, but with practice I will strike the balance and perhaps even begin to really enjoy my time at the office as a working Mum! (I certainly enjoyed the coffees and lunch at a restaurant where I wasn’t picking up morsel of food and spilled drinks repeatedly. Plus, I’m fairly certain I yelled a lot less than I do in an ordinary day (the puppy and V1 are still learning about each other so the yelling is for their own safety!)).
Perhaps once I’ve managed to strike this balance, I’ll be sure to focus on being the different someone I need to be for me as well!