Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon has struck again!!! If you don’t have time to click through to my earlier post about Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon here, I’ve summed it up for you below:
Think back to the time when you wanted to buy a new car. You picked out the make and the model and then all of a sudden, everywhere you went you would see the car you’re wanting to buy everywhere! That’s Baader-Meinhof at play. In a nutshell, it’s the phenomenon that occurs when a word, a name or other thing comes to your attention and then suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency everywhere you look. Whether you’ve made a decision to buy a new car or TV, heard about an obscure or abstract concept or simply learnt a new word, whenever you see something, learn about something, or actively think about something, your brain shines a spotlight on it and all of a sudden you see it everywhere.
Well, my most recent Baader-Meinhof experience has been around the topic of working mothers. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s just what I am!! You see, having just returned from maternity leave two months ago, I’m fast becoming acquainted with the challenges of being a working mum again. Of course I knew having two kids to wrangle as well as a full time job was going to be a handful, I’ve done it once before and had a fairly realistic impression of what it was going to take. What I didn’t anticipate though was going back to an environment of significant change and not only having to hit the ground running, but also having to hit top gear before I’d even put my foot on the accelerator!
So it makes sense that in my limited down time, everything that I see at the moment is about working mums – the challenges they face, the sacrifices they make, the top tips for getting dinner on the table with ease within a 20 minute window (pffft to that I say!) and the experiences of many other working mums out in the world who are doing their best to keep on top of it all. Some of the articles and stories I see are negative (career mum v SAHM debate rearing its ugly head), some are quite positive and empowering and others are merely a reflection or debrief of the actual experiences of mums looking to unload and/or share what they know with the world.
Today, I’m working from home because Miss A is coming off the back of conjunctivitis and as parents with kids in childcare would know, sending your kid to childcare with conjunctivitis is a big no-no! And whilst I was taking a break with a cuppa this morning, I came across the blog of North Melbourne Mum who too has been sharing challenges faced as a working mum balancing her career and her family. And it got me to thinking…
Perhaps it’s just my own experience clouding my perspective, or maybe it is indicative of a bigger societal plea but I’m sensing that there are some working mums out there who would love a little more support and encouragement without fear of judgement or the risk that they will ignite an unwanted debate (because lets face it, there seems to be a lot of bitching, judging and trolling going on at the moment out there in internet land). There’s no question that the immediacy of social media means that every now and then, the motherhood collective unites in support of mums’ who’ve borne the brunt of nasty comments or an attack on their ability to provide and support their families – just hark back to the recent attack on Chrissie Swann about her participation on I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here and the #workingmothersunite hashtag.
One of the beautiful aspects of being so connected nowadays is that support is literally at our fingertips should we want it. With a few simple keystrokes, there are no end of forums, blogs, news articles and commentary on the ups and downs of being a modern day parent, and especially on working motherhood. I’m not going to get into what I think can be quite a snarky world of opinion about whether or not mums should go back to work or stay at home. As far as I’m concerned, whatever the reason, the reality is that there are women, all across the world, who are back in the workforce whilst raising a family. It’s not a new phenomenon – it’s been happening for generations.
But I am going to put it out there and suggest that working mums have a role to play in propping up other working mums.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that we have a moral obligation or a responsibility to the sisterhood to do so, but lately, as I see the online wars flare up or read the stories of many other women in similar situations, I can relate and empathise and it makes me feel a part of something great. It makes me feel understood and appreciated. It makes me feel like I’m not doing it on my own. And it makes me want to stand in solidarity with these women and support them if they ever need it. Perhaps, if I were to counter the judgement and snark with encouragement and cheerleader-style rah-rahing from the sidelines would that make a difference? Perhaps, if I give generously to other working mums and put it out into the universe now, I might receive it back one day when I need more support than what is immediately available around me. Will I have paid it forward enough to draw upon the collective, some advice or words of encouragement in the future should I ever voice my opinions, challenges or fears about juggling work life with motherhood here, in my little patch of the interwebs?
I’d like to think that it would as I am very mindful of the comments that I leave and the way that I leave them, but in this judgey mcjudge world who really knows. I think it’s easy for people in their busy lives to lose sight of the big picture and to remember that we’re all in this together. With every Facebook comment battle and trolling antagonist looking to bait mums for fun, we sit at our keyboards and interact with the world, often forgetting that behind the carefully crafted words, polished avatars and perfectly instagrammed facades, we’re all mums trying to make the best decisions and do what’s right for our families. And I’m pretty sure that deep down, all of us really do understand that. I am in no doubt that the majority of mum’s who have chosen to return to work have not done so without weighing up the pros and cons. Whether you stay at home or work to support your family, mother’s cop it from every angle and haven’t we shown how fabulous the world can be when we’re all supportive and united in being the best mums we can be. Surely we already know that the world could use a lot less judgement and scorn.
Something I read on North Melbourne Mum’s post today resonated with me (I wish I knew her name so I didn’t have to refer to her as a blog name!! lol – Haven’t found it anywhere on her blog!). Anyway, she said this: I have this personal manifesto that if I complain about something 3 times I have to either do something about it or shut up!
So this is me doing something about it. I actually believe it’s bigger than working mothers and that we have a role in propping up mothers in general, women across the board and quite simply the human race – but that’s a post for another day. Today I’m celebrating working mother’s everywhere and letting them know that regardless of where they exist in this web of social media and connectedness, you won’t be getting any judgement from me. In fact, you can count on me to celebrate you, empathise when you get all ranty and lend an ear if that is what is needed. Because one day, I too might need a little pep talk to get me through the day or a hand to steady me if I’m veering way off course. Which means, one day I might need some words of encouragement from you.
Have you struggled to find the balance between career woman and mother? Do you think we are harsh critics of each other?