It’s been a whole year since the fabulous company was bought by the Giant Corporate. 365 days since we were divvied between subsidiaries, and I was shuffled to a tower in the centre of town. Back then, I was certain I wouldn’t be staying. It was just too different, too difficult to adjust.
Ultimately, security trumped everything else. Decent salary, medical benefits, retirement fund – it was just far scarier to risk than I expected. Easy being brave in the hypothetical. Plagued by doubts of frying pan to fire, I stayed. And, mostly, it’s okay. I’m as integrated as I’ll get, I expect. There’s really only one thing I still struggle with – no flexi-time.
Learning to do the single parent juggle has been hectic. Swimming galas, teacher’s meetings, lifts from after school sports – these were never things I had to worry about before. I just went, and worked in the time. Having lunch with Dylan every single day - I had no idea how much I’d miss that. The fabulous company was my first proper job, Dylan was 2 when I started and 12 when they sold. I really had no concept of how difficult it was to be a working mother.
Before Dylan started Primary School, he was at Daycare on a huge old hospital estate about five minutes walk from the office. Next to the Daycare was a riding school and behind them, a commune with ducks and donkeys and organic vegetables sold in rickety wooden stalls that smelled of circus tents. There were winding paths and big stretches of grass with enormous overhanging trees. Every lunch hour I’d fetch Dylan and we’d visit the horses and the hippies and picnic under the trees.
We shared a house with friends in the same street as my office. Later on I bought our flat two roads down. We were happy. When it was time for Grade One I found a school four km’s away. I’d fetch him in my lunch hour and we’d go home, lie on the couch, eat toast and talk about his day. We had an au pair who arrived at our house when my lunch hour was over.
Mornings were even easier. Pack his lunch, pull on jeans, drive to school by 8am. Then a whole hour to get ready, just me and Gareth Cliff until 9, Isidingo until 9.20, work from 9.30 to 6pm. Life was so damn sweet.
Now I have to leave home stupidly early to get Dylan to school and me to town by 8am. Dressed. Preferably showered. I get that this is the real world, that other people do this every day without complaint - doesn’t make it suck any less. Dylan’s grumpy, I’m snappy, mornings pretty much suck. As do lunch hours.
In an age of Blackberry’s and laptops it’s ridiculous to live like this. Yet the majority of companies expect it. And in return for food and a home, we give it. Because ultimately, security trumps everything else.
Are you a working parent? How do you juggle family responsibilities with a demanding career? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences in the box below.