It’s Working Parents’ Day on Sunday 16 September. You know what that means, don’t you? It means laughing hollowly at the lunacy of making a living while a small human claims your soul via the medium of snot. Well, naturally my thoughts have turned to my own life as a working parent of Kraken Junior and I’ve noticed this: people think I have the perfect balance because I work from my sewing shed. They also assume that I have a deliciously cosy relationship with Kraken Junior as a result. They imagine us warmly crafting together or me skipping to school pick-ups in between embroidery sessions.
Well, I’m here to tell you that this idea is sooooo wrong that it deserves a new unit of measurement. So if you really want to know the gulf between the assumptions and the reality of me being a working parent, here they are. Steady yourself and put social services on speed dial.
Well yes, if by ‘extra flexible’ you mean ‘in a permanent state of derangement about work’. So if I’m not working, I’m thinking about working and if I’m not thinking about working I’m making mental business plans (by that I mean plans in my head, not plans that are insane). This means that I never actually switch off, even when Kraken Junior and I are well into our fifth game of Go Fish. In fact I routinely break off from our activities to write frantic notes on my hand and up my arm. Pen, lipstick, eyeliner, felt tip… I’ve even attempted it in crayon. At the rate I’m going that crayon will soon need to be green.
I work from home so do the school pick-ups
Hahhhahahaaahahahaa! Actually, Conjugal Kraken and I divvy up the pick-ups around a mix of after-school clubs and grandparents. It’s this spreadsheet approach to being a working parent that stands between me and a supermarket shooting. Even then I stand, twitching, in the yard as Kraken Junior ambles out of school on a day when I still have to make another bag by 5pm. More than that, once a month Conjugal Kraken and I have the equivalent of a G7 summit. We face each other across the kitchen table with our individual plans for world domination, wrangle out childcare and embark upon a process of such military precision that it would buckle the knees of Kim Jong Un.
I’m a mumpreneur
Have you ever seen me sewing with my ovaries rather than with my hands? No? In that case I’m not fucking mumpreneur. I genuinely do not know what else you expect me to write for this point.
I can pass my love of sewing to my child
You haven’t met Kraken Junior have you? Now, she is a creature of great wonder, humour, sarcasm, gorgeousness and fun. What she is not is a creature of my sewing shed. In fact she has as much interest in sewing as I do in carrying out Trump’s next prostate examination. In fact she is so unimpressed with my sewing that she has asked is she can turn my sewing empire into a book/ sweet shop upon my death. Ever seen Succession? It’s that but with sheds rather than stock prices. And yes, I’m the perpetually furious Logan Roy.
I can make clothes for my child
Here’s a fun fact: every item of clothing I have made for Kraken Junior, she has refused to wear. Well, apart from costumes for school plays. She’ll happily wear the yellow, fluffy duck outfit I made her (complete with beak) but not that dress out of the fabric THAT SHE CHOSE. When it comes to her own body, I know exactly where I can shove my seam ripper. My lessons on autonomy and consent have clearly sunk in.
I can stop work when I’m needed
Only if that first involves me saying, “Just give me two minutes!” for an hour beforehand and then immediately dashing back to my work when said ‘needing’ is complete. If Kraken Junior has a heart attack, she’s a) buggered and b) likely to have ‘mother is a working parent’ written on her tombstone (and that’s a whole other blog post about the patriarchy, right there).
True, she’d rather poke out her own eyes with a rabid squirrel before coming into my shed. However, I make up for this by dragging her to the post office and every local haberdashery several times a month. She loudly groans when I do it but at least she knows the international postage for Bolivia and how to cadge a sample of dupion silk from the grumpy bastard who runs that fabric shop in Cardiff. #lifegoals
Fabric shops are our playground
If her idea of play is me saying, “If you don’t stop talking long enough for me to measure this ric-rac, I’ll cry,” then yes, it’s hours of working parent fun. Add to that her routine assertion that one particular shop “smells weird” and it’s a laugh a fucking minute.
My work makes my child creative
Look, we are talking here about a creature who organises the cucumbers in Asda according to length just for the fun of it. Kraken Junior has many fine qualities but creativity isn’t one of them. On the upside, though, if I were to tip all of my buttons into the bath and ask her to order them according to size and hue she’d shit herself with joy so, you know, it’s not ALL bad.
My child praises the things I make
Sigh. I used to think I could impress Kraken Junior by running in from the shed, showing her my latest set of sanitary pads or anatomical embroidery. Think of it as the working parent version of shouting, “Look at what I made at school!”. Instead she’ll stare at my four month-long rendering of a brainstem and crow “EWWWW!” before safely sheltering in Roblox.
I’m always there for bedtime
In body, yes, but in mind? Er… kind of-ish. Invariably, Kraken Junior and I chatting while she’s in her PJs will remind me that I didn’t send that email/ finish that set of facial pads. And no, I’m not a monster. I don’t run from her room hollering, “Just go to fucking sleep! TIME IS MONEY!”. I am, though, a working parent which means I do spend the next half and hour desperately remembering what I need to do before I get to my to-do list/ my menopausal mind obliterates it.
My child understands sewing dangers
Is that why I STILL have to shout, “Watch out for the scissors!” when she rugby tackles me as I sew? Reader, she is ten years of age. T.E.N.
So what about you? Do you find your working parent experience not quite how everyone assumes it will be? Let me know in the comments below.