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Stress tested: 5 things about working (moms), 27.8.18

  • Am now officially working two jobs (not counting family management, designing and editorial services for designers – yeah, I know, I know), which is about as calm and soothing as you’d imagine. It has been interesting, though, to compare cultures, and in particular the experience of starting a job at (a) a very small firm in the startup “ecosystem”, vs (b) a ginormous global bank. At (a), handover was kinda lacking and the workload is intense; I spent my first week or so feeling sick with anxiety that I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was forgetting to do. At (b), there is a whole “onboarding” process that encompasses hours of mandatory online training, more hours of meetings, and a deluge of paperwork. I’ve barely even seen any actual work yet, but I spent my second day (I work two days a week) sick with anxiety that I didn’t know what more I could be doing to get my phone access sorted out* so that I had some hope of joining the remote meetings that had been set up. (The answer, apparently, seems to be: nothing, but it doesn’t matter too much because everybody knows what getting access is like, and just rolls their eyes and says “well whenever you can, now you know what it’s like here”.)
  • I have all these Systems in place to manage my life and family, and they are completely failing to cope with the current situation, because I am completely failing to maintain them, because omg exhausted. So although I’m really happy to be working, and excited about the future, I’m not doing a very good job of performing like a functioning adult. On Thursday I collected my kids from my friend C, who was anxious to clear them out before going to parents’ evening, and it didn’t for a moment occur to me that if she had parents’ evening, and our kids are in the same classes, then I too had parents’ evening, as was in fact in my calendar. (I got there half an hour late and had to sit in the front row, publicly shamed. Look, up till now, our big kids were in different schools! I’m used to her having other parents’ evenings to me!)
  • I’ve been thinking about women and cars. When I was growing up, my mom’s friends always drove really messy cars, which usually had weird little idiosyncrasies – nothing dramatically dangerous, just, like, the headlights couldn’t be dipped, or the back door handle didn’t work, annoying crap like that. I always assumed of course that this had to do with lack of money (none of these women were earning much, if anything), and that the mess went along with having kids. Turns out, it’s definitely possible to have a family car without permanent debris on the floor (this is surprisingly important to me; the flat is a tip and our car isn’t exactly clean, but it’s never full of crap), but I see the weird unfixed annoyances in cars belonging to women who can definitely afford to have their cars maintained. (Obviously their husbands’ cars are always just fine.) New theory: it’s a time issue – but not only time. This isn’t a woman thing, but it’s definitely a mom thing, and I am experiencing with a realness just how much falls through the cracks for a working mom. Sorting out, say, a gearstick knob that keeps falling off requires blocking off time to get the car to the workshop and get yourself and the kids around without the car, and that sometimes requires positively miraculous logistics. (It’s easier for dudes – in a traditional family setup – because dropping the car off before work and picking it up after, or even the next day, is a lot easier than fitting it into messy family life. Sharing a car with Armin means maintenance is his problem, and that’s basically what saves me from a shabby, neglected car.) It also requires valuing yourself sufficiently to see that effort as necessary, and we all know moms tend to have a hard time tending to their own needs.
  • OT but there’s another thing I always noticed about my mom’s friends and their cars – many of them had hangups about driving. They’d drive, but never on the highway, or never at night, or never around Hospital Bend. (My mother herself never learned to drive at all.) So they were always a little bit dependent on others, or at least handicapped in daily life. That’s another thing that always bugged me, and I never wanted to be like that. Turns out I’m still severely underserved in the driving confidence department, though. I’ll drive anywhere I have to but I hate driving in town, I’m not keen on the motorway, and I get surprisingly stressed driving anyone else’s car. This annoys the crap out of me. I feel I am failing as a grown-up. But there it is. Not sure if there’s a wider feminist point to be made about this. Women are taught to see ourselves as vulnerable (and a bit stupid), and we get a barrage of jokes about “women drivers”, and none of that helps. But it’s also very obviously not a problem that applies to most women – I know only one other woman of my generation who has this kind of driving anxiety, and that’s part of her more general anxiety. So, well. Lucky me.
  • Still exhausted. Still very much behind on design stuff. Feeling a bit fatalistic about it though. I’ll get the stuff out, it just won’t be tested – thoroughly edited, obviously –and that’s not ideal but something’s got to give. But it sucks.

* Of course they use Skype instead of actual phones, so I received confirmation that my Skype Personal Phone Profile had been created, yet I couldn’t log on. When I got hold of IT (using my colleague’s Skype) they said Of course you can’t, I see that you don’t have a Skype for Business account, the PPP is quite separate. Here’s a link where you can request a Skype for Business account. So when I tried to do that, I got the message You can’t request that, you already have it. So… I spent the rest of the day trying to contact IT again to explain this and get them to sort it out. And failing. And musing on the words “Kafkaesque” and “byzantine”.

2 thoughts on “Stress tested: 5 things about working (moms), 27.8.18

  1. Joy of large organisations closer to em currently but I recognise the ‘chucked in at the deep end’ of small organisations too.
    Currently in denial re the mandatory training I haven’t done due to crap online access. Oh well.

    And of course all this rather overwhelming time for you will pass and all will get easier because you’ll know the workarounds and the people (as well as dropping a job!).

    1. Quite – I can handle this phase (just) because I know it should be over soon. And I am soooo much looking forward to dropping one of these jobs… I just wish they’d hurry up and hire someone!

      And I REALLY wish I could get my phone access sorted at Job B, it’s surprisingly stressful. Something I need for my job, I don’t have any direct control over but still feel I am responsible for getting sorted.

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