Women at Work: your responses
All week we have been running articles on Irish women’s working lives, and inviting you to share your stories with us. Here is a selection of the contributions
Constant juggling: it can be a challenge to have a career when you’re a mother. Illustration: Amy DeVoogd/Getty
I’m always planning: what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner?
My day starts at 6.30am. I get up, dress, eat and ensure the lunch boxes and my own lunch are ready to go before moving my five-year-old girls into action. My husband leaves for work before 7am. As in many houses, the morning often revolves around squabbles about eating, leaving and so on.
I work full time, and I have always enjoyed it, but this year, in particular, I find I am exhausted and having difficulty concentrating on simple things. I am always planning: what’s for lunch, what’s for dinner, is there ironing to do, when can one of us go to the supermarket? It is draining.
When I get home, around 6pm, I roll into the evening job: homework, dinner, further squabbles, bathtime, bedtime, stories and then whatever cleaning I have the energy to do. I try to ensure I am sitting down by 9pm for an hour before going to bed, but that doesn’t always happen.
I feel guilty a lot of the time: that I can’t collect my girls from school, that I don’t have time to sit and play with them because I need to get the dinner ready or clean the bathroom. I feel they are growing away from me, and I dread not knowing and enjoying them as well as I should.
I worked in a male environment and achieved responsibility and status
Last year I decided to leave the workplace, to the disbelief of my colleagues and family. It was a difficult decision considering that I had worked in a predominantly male environment and achieved responsibility and status. Just five years ago I earned more than €80,000 a year. If our society measures success in terms of wealth and job status, then I was to be envied. The reality was that I was so busy and stressed that I had no time to really connect with my children, aged eight to 15.
The working mother is constantly busy. Demands from the workplace often compete directly with the needs of the children. Do I dial in to that evening conference call where critical decisions are being made, or do take my child to hurling practice? For me the most stressful dilemma occurs when a child is sick. At breakfast you realise that the child just cannot go to school. I recall one female GP offering me a sick note for myself, to cover the period of my daughter’s illness.