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I don’t want a medal just a bit of understanding

As we discussed on twitter last Monday morning, what kind of sadist sets up a team meeting at 8.30 on a Monday morning?

That’ll be my boss


Because even with the best will in the world, unless everything is perfectly stacked up and I can just thrust the small people into the hands of New Nanny the moment she arrives (which isn’t really the thing after a weekend and a need to catch up on what has happened) then I am always going to be 5 minutes late.  Visibly, perpetually not quite able to be there at the right time.

Because if I look around the meeting, out of all the senior team in the room, on a good day there are 3 women in a room of 30+ people… oh yes, yet again we are self selecting ourselves out of being there, being seen, being able to do a client facing job.

Because you see, this so called family friend organisation, doesn’t appear to be able to cope with women working in client facing roles.

Because it appears that the assumption is that we working mums are working on the same platform as the working dads in the group.  As in we have a wife at home looking after our children, doing the laundry, doing the cooking, acting as fall back.

Except that I don’t have a wife at home, nor do I have a house husband.

You see, I live in a relationship where both of us work, both of us are at about the same point in our careers, both of us continue to be driven.

So I find myself competing at work against people with a whole lot of support behind them and to be frank, I can’t compete.

Take last week.

I was on my own at home, Mr was away from Monday through Friday and so I was doing it all but single handedly.  And yes it was a terrible week at work for me.  Working until 3am, back in at 8.30 (just, by the skin of my teeth) was a low point but you know what I did it.

I don’t want a medal for getting through this week.  Actually on reflection, I would quite like a medal but that’s not going to happen.

All I would like is that some of realisation from my colleagues that perhaps it isn’t a level playing field, that perhaps without a support team at home I live a different type of life and most importantly that it means very little, that I’m still good at my job and that yes, having to go home to work doesn’t make me a bad person, it just means I can carry on working at home and that shouldn’t be a bad thing

Except that it appears that in the corporate world the only thing that counts it being there for some ridiculously early morning meeting.


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20 comments to I don’t want a medal just a bit of understanding

  • Alli Marshall

    It seems despite claims that the workplace has become more equal in most cases it hasn’t!
    I’m really lucky that I have a boss that is a hands on Dad who thinks nothing of doing the school run or taking his kids to the doctors.
    Sadly in the majority of cases when a Business Dad takes their child to the doctors or does the school run they are seen as some sort of hero and are given a medal, when a Business Mum does it it’s frowned upon.
    Keep fighting for the cause!!!

    • Muddling Along

      Its that bit which makes me really cross – if I want to take Bigger to nursery its frowned upon but if one of the men does it people think he’s a great Dad

  • What kind of sadist? What? Havent we in the corporate world learnt anything at all over the last 10-15 years?

  • It’s not even that we don’t have the support of a stay-at-home wife. It’s that somehow the men in the room, even if they have working wives, still generally expect childcare (and probably housework) to be the primary concern of the mother, meaning that they can make work plans first, and then check (if the wife is lucky) that they fit in with family obligations.

    But working mothers are more often than not expected to take on all primary familial obligations (think of childcare obligations first, and fit work around that), and somehow still keep the same working hours.

    More often that not the issue is not the amount of work (and certainly isn’t the quality of it!), but when those hours must be done. And there is just no consideration.

    Equality (in this context) should not mean the same. But equivalent, and equal opportunity. And that just is not there…

    • Muddling Along

      I agree – its about making a level playing field and accepting that different people have different challenges and may need some understanding that we don’t all have the back up

  • So many double standards there it’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Those same men that are frowning upon you for being late or having to work from home because you are the one in your household expected to bare the brunt of child care and house work, are the same men doing that to their own wives. they expect you to be as available as they are and yet they expect their wives, someone else’s work colleague, to catch the fall out from their own lives so they can stand there and look down on you.

    It makes me want to shout lots of very rude words very loudly.

  • Did you watch ‘Who does what’ on BBC2 last week? It was fascinating, with video recordings of families and then sociologists giving a statistical report of who did what during the week. There was a couple who both worked, and the husband was mortified when he realised what a pillock he was being.

    To a certain extent you will never be able to ‘win’, what you need to decide is where it is most important for you to win and by how much. I’ll explain with a little story about why you can never be ‘improved’ upon:
    – husband is considered wonderful by boss
    – husband goes on ‘productivity at the workplace’ workshop. Boss thinks he is even better, and showing great commitment to the workplace. Wife wishes he would shut up about it and show a little more commitment to home.
    – wife falls pregnant, and husband gets excited, so his values shift
    – husband attends a workshop on yoga breathing during childbirth and asks his boss to ensure that his diary will enable him to attend the birth
    – wife now thinks he is the best husband in the whole wide world, and has improved dramatically. Boss thinks he’s gone soft and lost the will to succeed.

    You do get a medal. But you aren’t getting a gold one from work at the moment (well, you might be, but according to what you are saying to us you aren’t). Are you willing to pay the price to get their gold medal and behave according to their value systems? If not, go for a silver at work instead of a gold, and get a medal at home too. It’s not about whats right and wrong, it’s about how human behaviour works.

    I really feel for you, although I don’t see different lives as more ‘difficult’ than others, I do think that being a full time working Mum, with a full time working husband in your kind of industry is extremely tricky. We decided that it wouldn’t work for us, and I took a step back, even before children. But then, there was a HUGE price to pay for that too, and not just financial. So heh ho! big hugs xxxx

    • Muddling Along

      I’m going to find this on iplayer and have a watch – sounds interesting

      I guess I still need to find a place where I am content with the choices in all the parts of my life – the sands are shifting again and I’m trying to reassess what that means (and I guess I haven’t killed off my ambition yet which does complicate things)

  • Maria Mesias

    I work full time as does my partner but I am still the one who has to do all the cleaning, washing, ironing (I don’t anymore except for work), sorting out anything with regards to anything (daughter/flat/taxman/childcare) etc. I am a Marketing Manager by day and its very difficult to do everything and fit everything in and if someone was handing out medals then I should be covered in them.

    But that is seems is like most women I know!!!

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Hannah, Hannah. Hannah said: Blogging – I don't want a medal just a bit of understanding http://tinyurl.com/6fg32pd […]

  • Emily O

    That sounds tough. I hope your week is going better this week. I can’t believe I used to think this but: when I was in my twenties (before children) and had my career and I saw my colleague working mums struggling with fitting everything in I used to think, “It’s their issue, they chose to have children.” I feel really bad for thinking it now, really cold-hearted and unsympathetic. I wasn’t a family person back then. But I can imagaine many of those people in that meeting room with you thinking that. Your description of working mums and dads is so true, equality is a long way off yet.

  • Melissa Johnson

    You are so straightforward in your writing and so right. Ahh, I’m so tired of the withering glances one gets when arriving late or leaving early. Zero understanding. And once you scratch the surface of how everyone else is doing it, you find out that all the men have stay-at-home wives.

    I’ve been reading your blog from far away for a while now, and just wanted to say how smart and brave and perceptive you are. Congrats.

    • Muddling Along

      Thank you

      I wouldn’t mind if it was a level playing field but it isn’t – don’t look askance at me when I have a totally different set of challenges (and put the meeting back to 9am please and give me a fighting chance)

  • i think it’s totally unnecessary to put a meeting in for 8.30 on a monday. I know often at work for a mum you just have to grit your teeth and find a way through, but this just smacks of thoughtlessnes on behalf of the organiser. ARe they a bit of a sadist by any chance, chuckling into their corn beef sandwich when they sent the invite out?


    • Muddling Along

      No it smacks of being a total cock – which is the fundamental issue with Bossman at the moment he thinks we should sacrifice everything for the job and I think there’s another way

  • Kelloggsville

    This could be my life (but without the nanny) I often finished work at 3 to do school pickup and after school run around but then start again and work until wee hours but collegues only remember the finish at 3 part. Whilst working (from home) I’m expected to put meals in front of hubby,do all ironing, house work etc and my major gripe is if a work man is required I am expected to deal with it ( on a WAH day) like working from home means I dont really work which isn’t true at all. A number of the men I work with are sexist arses who will call meetings at obscure hours but I have got to the stage in my career where I’ve given up (hubby’s career is more important than mine -apparently) and I have to say ‘no can do’ makes me feel Like a failure at work and home. I average a 50 hour week earn a salary only slightly less than hubby but It is given no value at home and at work I get no brownie points for doing a fantastic job with all the juggling balls in the air. Unfortunately it is a working mum’s lot!!

    • Muddling Along

      That is exactly it – they remember the leaving at 3 or 6 or whatever and they don’t see the hours afterwards plus the fact they have backup at home and we are the backup

      And yes I don’t understand how Mr’s career became the one we are focusing on (afterall mine is as good and much more secure)

      Juggling sucks doesn’t it

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