By Sandra Beck
This is a story told to me by a friend and I thought some of you might be able to relate.
I started so beautifully. I was going onto a 4 day week, and I found out my new boss Amanda was also working reduced hours to make time for her family. She was glamorous, successful and supportive of her family. I confess, I allowed myself to think that I might have found a mentor.
We still fall into deep conversation whenever we bump into each other. However, it is without doubt the most difficult and stressful working relationship I’ve had.
I’m on the cusp of going to work for another working mother, and I’m reflecting on what went wrong. Was it a straightforward personality clash? Or is it a symptom of the politics of working motherhood.
How we choose to balance our home and professional life is a very personal decision. It reflects our own insecurities that we can feel judged simply because another woman has chosen a different path. Most commonly, it is a working mum feeling guilty that she can’t bake cookies for the school disco. With two women working together, the issue is more of ‘not letting down the side’. My male bosses seemed unconcerned about the occasional very prompt departure. With Amanda, however, I felt that I was being monitored more closely. Was she afraid that I would give mothers a reputation for being work-shy?
Amanda managed her life with an army of domestic staff. There were nannies, cleaners, personal trainers, au pairs, piano teachers – a real zoo. There was something patronizing in Amanda’s tone to me. It is as though she wasn’t making a distinction between her staff in the office, and the young girls who worked for her at home.
Perhaps it all got too personal. My male boss would never dream of putting his arm around me or commenting on my clothes. Perhaps it’s me. Maybe I couldn’t adapt to being micromanaged now that I knew I could juggle house and work and children.
My new manager has one grown up daughter, who’s been raised with the best nannies money can buy. Let’s see what she makes of me and my ragtag crew.
And for all of us with out own ragtag crew, let’s hear it for getting the job done!