My life revolves around London and Cambridge. Which means that sometimes, I’m on my own with the children. There are days when doing it on your own gets so tough that you just want to throw the towel in. Everything seems to be going wrong – you forget your keys; you leave something at home that should be at school with the children; you forgot the Christmas lantern was due – you know? Everything just piles on top of you. And at the end of the day I can call my husband and he can say ‘pele‘ (which means I empathise in my Nigerian language, Yoruba). Or he can decide to get on the train early and come home.
Yesterday I got to work and about an hour in, my phone rang. It was my children’s school administrator. My son has been sick she said and I would need to take him home. What are the choices? There’s me and there’s me. So I switched off the computer and sent a text to my manager and got to the school as quickly as I could.
I am very fortunate to work for an organisation that supports flexible working. I got my son home, sorted him out with meds, food and TV. And I plugged in my laptop and continued working. I also have an amazingly supportive line manager who understands that I have children and doesn’t let it affect the promotion of my career. It makes it so much easier and motivates me to do even more.
This got me thinking. Firstly how do parents who don’t have supportive work environments cope? Someone once told me that it’s much better to let your employers think you are sick than for them to know that your child was sick – otherwise they would begin to think you are not dependable. Something tells me she wasn’t far from the reality. Secondly, if I didn’t have that supportive workplace and I was a single parent, how exactly would I have coped had I received that phone call from the school? What would have been my options? At the barest minimum, I could call my husband to discuss options. As a single parent, all the decisions and the burden of the decisions plus the consequences of the decisions lie with you. It’s not easy to be a parent -period- but a single parent? That’s a new level of respect. I really don’t know how they do it.
God bless you all!