By Sandra Beck, Motherhood Incorporated
The loneliness of modern motherhood. You’ve sprained your ankle, you’ve a looming deadline and the nanny’s got toothache. Your husband is busy being executive and important. Who’s your backstop? Who’ll pick up the kids – not to mention make you a cup of tea?
I think that working mothers find it harder to ask for help. I have this irrational feeling that now I’ve started to pay for childcare, I should be able to solve all my childcare crises by throwing money at the problem. Unfortunately, I’ve never come across the legendary child-loving teenager looking for occasional work. The girls at my son’s school each seemed to have a second (and sometimes third) job. Their diaries were more jammed than mine.
For evenings, I’ve joined a reputable babysitting agency. They take the hassle out of my hands. Of course, there is a risk in trusting a stranger, but they have good checks, and they always try to send the same person if they can.
For that school-run tight spot, I’m shy about asking other mothers to take on my kids. I’m conscious that I can’t really reciprocate. Having more than one kid obviously makes it a far bigger favor too. I find it easier to ask for help from other working mums – because I’m very sensitive to looking like I assume stay at home parents have more free time.
In my charmless, grudging, prickly way, I’ve admitted to my parents and in-laws that sometimes the juggling gets tricky. In her opinionated, fussy way, my mum and dad has started offering me some very well focused support, which has let me to win a little bit of time together on the weekends, and helps me when I have to do overnight business trips.
I’m practicing asking my friends for help too. The words don’t come easy, but I have an especially expressive guttural grunt just for this purpose.