Last week was “one of those weeks”. The one where you wish you could just project yourself forward in time so it will all be over.
As a Mum of seven I face the daily challenge of meeting schedules within schedules. Managing a family of nine is one complex task – sports days at school, excursions, payment of fees, dental appointments, extracurricular activities and the social lives of budding teenagers. I am the Caterer, Butler and Chauffer rolled into one, starting my chores at 6am to ensure the Stewart Seven are washed, fed, watered and dressed, and out the door by 8am, arriving promptly at all three schools.
Add to this the management of a business, which includes business development, commitment to providing good customer service to clients, meeting deadlines and statutory requirements, and fulfilling the promise and obligation of keeping staff employed in a sustainable, interesting and opportune role. And, the effort it takes to keep the business polished and professional at all times.
By 2.30pm, it starts over again, only in reverse order. From here we enter the “witching hour” –homework, bathing and the feeding of the children who converge in the kitchen like a hungry pack of seagulls! This is a normal day in the life of Rebecca Stewart.
But I chose this life. I know that. I knew by baby number four what I was in for.
But I did not choose the countless hurdles life can throw. Especially in one week.
The week started with me anxiously awaiting news from a friend whose daughter was in a terrible car accident last week. She remains in a serious condition. It did not get better:
- Monday: Discovered the car had been broken into. Not a huge loss. The thieves only took small change and left an almighty mess in the car, but disruptive none-the-less. And an invasion of privacy.
- Tuesday: Received news my Uncle had suddenly passed away suddenly from a heart attack. A man with a great sense of a humour and a love of Elvis. Top this off with a sprinkling of rain (downpour to be exact) which flooded my backyard from a cracked storm water drain which runs the length of my property. Council have told me I am the proud owner of that easement and responsible for fixing that one up. Great, and thanks by the way.
- Wednesday: Note from school “Head Lice Invasion”. I am the Nit Nazi so my preventative regime kicked in, turning my children’s hair and the house upside down with military precision.
- Thursday: The dog escaped. We combed the streets for hours before giving up, the whole family upset at the thought our dog gone forever. This drama ended well, with a knock on the front door (yes a knock), at midnight when our dog decided to return home of his own accord.
- Friday: For 2 hours, a fruitless search for lost keys, throwing out the Stewart Schedule. However, another good outcome - eventually finding the keys hidden by the innocent baby.
Despite all these dramas, I managed them successfully. I run a tough military operation ensuring my children are well mannered, well presented, respectful and always thoughtful and considerate of those around them, while I keep my cool under pressure. I am proud to have raised seven beautiful children who receive endless comments and compliments for their behaviour and presentation. These compliments come from family, friends, teachers, business associates and complete strangers.
So it hurt this week to receive judgement on Thursday, couched in an unprofessional email containing a number of baseless accusations, and advice on how I should improve my management of having a large family and running a business. Simply because I don’t do things like the accuser would. You would think a fellow Mum and business owner would know better than to take part in that old adage “judging a book by its cover”. I’ve got seven kids, so I couldn’t possibly have it all under control. Could I? It’s easy to make these assumptions and there is a good lesson in this for us all.
When applying for work we are judged by the baggage we bring with us. We all have a story to tell whether it be ethnicity, disability, marital status, number of kids, educational background, financial troubles...... once this information is out, you can bet you will be automatically filed into a certain calibre or level of ability in the mind of the recruiter. Of course, this will depend on the recruiter and type of job you are applying for. But take it from a Mum who also happens to provide career development support – it happens. I know from speaking to business owners that employers are keen to know if we candidates have children or are intent on having children. And what a shame, because some of the best organisers and project managers I have ever met have been Mums!
We all chose our lifestyles. We do not choose hurdles or the judgement of others. Perhaps we need a new adage. Walk a mile in another person’s shoes. And always give people the benefit of the doubt!
There is truth in this, beyond my personal perception and reality. Managing a home and a career is hard. It comes at a cost – not everything runs smoothly ALL the time. But those who do it, do it well. We Mums have developed our skill levels to a point where we are standout employees.
Long ago I chose to take a different approach to life – career, wife, mother and entrepreneur. When I did this, I also chose to not judge others. I can relate to the challenges us Mums face. And I know how damn hard it can be.
That is why Career Origin is holding a free casual get together to help provide local support for all us Mums entering, re-entering or currently working in the workforce. It is an opportunity for everyone to share the challenges they face in the workplace, finding a job or running a business. A representative from a local training organisation will also be on hand to discuss information on courses, and other business owners and entrepreneurs will share their experiences.
We would love to see you there – to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly.
When: 27 March 2012
Where: Career Origin Office – Unit 3, 49 Northern Road, Narellan
Bookings: 4648 3892 or via