This is me.
I am a loving, generous and affectionate mother of two. I do daily craft activities with my children and help them learn their alphabet and numbers. I cook them breakfast, lunch and dinner, put them to bed, kiss their ‘ouchies’, wipe their bums, clean up their vomit, and sing Old McDonald really loudly. My favourite activity is playing silly buggers with my kids up and down the hall way.
This is also me.
I am a two-time higher-educated professional, who holds a management position in the public service. I run meetings, lead staff, negotiate with stakeholders and contribute to the organisations overarching strategic development. I am ambitious, motivated and highly professional. My favourite activity is empowering staff to achieve their professional development goals and seeing my clients reach their full potential.
Everyday is a tug-of-war between my two me’s as I am caught in the ‘in between’.
I successfully negotiate with executives at work and then come home and not be able to convince my toddler to eat his dinner. When I walk into meetings, I have just finished rubbing off a smear of Vegemite or pureed pumpkin from my Cue brand suit jacket. On the weekends, I have my hair in a messy bun and am usually covered in paint or some bodily fluid of wee, poo or snot, yet between the hours of 9 and 5 I am dressed immaculately!
At work, I am thinking about my kids: at home, I am thinking about work.
I have career goals that to achieve them require further education, interstate travel and long hours in the office. I have activities I want to do with my children that involve furthering their education, campervaning around Europe, and long hours of play together.
Both goals are equally important to me: I want a stellar career that changes the lives of others and I want to spend time with my children while they’re young and want to spend time with me!
I try to keep both me’s happy by attempting to achieve both goals at the same time. I catch myself saying, “I’ll just write one more email before I go home”… “I’ll read this report later once the kids have gone to bed”… “I’ll type up a few notes while the kids play on their own”. But it’s never just “one more” and it’s never just “later”, and let’s be honest, kids rarely play on their own!
This tug-of-war is not unique to me, these words are not just spoken by me. Mother’s all around the world are also caught in the ‘in between’ and are pulled this way and that way each and every day. It’s a constant battle of which way we go at different times of the day, week and month.
So, how do mum’s move away from being caught in the ‘in between’ – of not quite being here, but not quite being there either?
The answer is, I don’t know. I suspect for many mums they just get on with it – they just do everything they have to do even if it is exhausting. But for me, I can’t – my life has to be a bit more compartmentalised for me to have an ounce of sanity.
I have learnt that I cannot be more than one me at the same time. I love more than anything kicking goals with my colleagues and I love more than anything kicking the ball with my kids, but I don’t love it when I’m kicking the ball with my kids while on the phone to my colleagues. My kids and colleagues don’t like it either as I’m not really present with either of them – I am hovering in the ‘in between’.
For me to manage being caught in the ‘in between’ I have to strictly compartmentalise my life. At home, I am the silly-bugger, mum-me; at work, I am the high-achieving, task-oriented me. That is not to say I cannot handle emergencies from the other me, I do this when it is needed, but almost all of my day is heavily segregated.
It has to be for me to be the best version of… me!
How do you manage the daily tug-of-war in your life? Are you a just-get-on-with-it or compartmentaliser or something else entirely?
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