A strong part of the reasons why I went back to work after having children was that fundamentally I'm the kind of person that gets easily bored. I don't think anybody who has ever stayed at home with a newborn can deny that, while there can undoubtedly be extremely rewarding, there are also long periods of tedium involved. And, as we have previously established, I'm not really the kind of person that finds the whole baby group and coffee morning round an easy one to negotiate. I just thought it was nice to think about some other things for a while, and work seemed like a ready-made, easy way out.
I've also spent my entire career in a relatively fast-paced, high-tech, multi-national environment. Conference calls at odd times of the day, juggling the needs of the Egyptians vs the needs of the Austrians kind of seemed like second nature. I can therefore kid myself that children and childcare is therefore just another ball that I need to keep up in the air. I make lists for everything, and I probably couldn't function without putting absolutely everything into my Outlook calendar and relying on the little reminder windows that pop up to keep me on track. It helps that I have a reasonable memory that is forever ticking through its own mental lists too. It's not easy, but I'm masochistic enough to enjoy the variety and the challenge.
If all of that sounds too good to be true, then here comes the but.
Doing a full day's work, making sure the kids have clean clothes, have done homework, have got Brownies uniform, making sure the bills are paid...etc etc... All of the things that are necessary purely just for us to function as a household come at a price; namely, that the house is a complete mess, and relies on other people coming to stay for it to be in a vaguely tidy/clean condition.
I've partly come to terms with the fact that my home will never be the showhome I envisage in my head. (Part of me holds on to the fact that it's a rebellion against the showhome-like qualities of my parents' home.) Dishes are destined to be sat on the side ready for the dishwasher to be emptied, clothes will be on chairs, toys not in their place. And don't get me started on the paperwork. Oh, God, the endless piles of paperwork waiting to be filed...
It doesn't have to be like this, I occasionally tell myself. It doesn't help that a good friend of mine manages to hold down a stressful job as a lawyer AND have a permanently immaculate house. (Although she only has one, apparently tidy, child. Grr.) Spurred on by her good example I occasionally go through bouts of manic tidying, or go out and buy another self-help book that promises eternal salvation:
Yeah. Guess what? Not read it yet. It's hidden under a pile of paperwork.