1. She is fucking productive
Let’s start with the biggie, shall we? So big we need an expletive to get the point across. When you’ve breastfed a baby while simultaneously paying a bill, cleaning every available surface with a wet wipe and spooning Cheerios into a toddler’s mouth; you know a thing or two about multi-tasking. A mother of a young baby can make every minute count – because she has to. Essentially, her boss while on maternity leave has been a very unsympathetic tyrant who hasn’t allowed her a lunch, tea or toilet break even. Showers, shits and online shopping were squeezed into precious minutes while her baby was strapped into a high chair like Hannibal Lecter, with a rice cake jammed in his mouth. It’s true, instead of a meeting agenda she might absent-mindedly hand over a sticky consent form intended for the childminder’s trip to the city farm, and OK, you might lose ten minutes of that conference as she shares the joyous news that little Amy did her first poo on the ‘big potty’ – but the woman is impressive. Run ragged between her home and work life, and still smiling like a loon because she’s taught another human being to excrete into a lavatory? Now that is dedication to a (big) job.
2. She can bring a lovely homely feel to a basic Formica desk
Aside from the obligatory framed picture of her kids, a working mum is likely to have a comedy Is It Friday Yet? mug, sitting on a coaster encasing a laminated photo of her kids, adjacent to a mousepad featuring yet another photo of her kids. She’ll also have a backrest, footrest, small vase of flowers and selection of snacks in the top tray of her stacked files in case of visiting colleagues. If she could, she’d get John Lewis in to fit a nice set of curtains for the window nearest her desk. Her workmates might pity her as she reaches for one of the hundred plastic spoons in her top drawer (all nicked from Boots in her lunch hour), and feel sadder still, when she fills the spoon with one of the thousand sachets of sugar she’s pinched from Greggs, but rest assured, she does not need sympathy. She’s not feathering her work nest to compensate for being there – this is her haven! She’ll drink that coffee while it’s still hot, without interruption from the ascending red lights of a baby monitor. And later, when you see her whistling happily with a copy of Look magazine under her arm, she’s off to her own personal Promised Land – the ladies’ loos. You might want to give it five minutes before you head in there after her…
3. She can pick her battles and is a good loser
This woman knows defeat. The frustration of unsuccessful pitches and bad sales have nothing on failed attempts to get a child to nap or eat some salad; but thanks to a life without the luxury of time or HR department, a mum learns very quickly the art of regrouping. When she swayed for 45 minutes to get her baby to sleep, carefully lowering her into the cot and slowly creeping to the door, she could have kicked off like caged wild cat when the baby then woke screaming, arms outstretched to be picked up. Instead, however, (after admittedly hurling a tub of Sudocrem violently against the wall), she scooped up her child, switched on This Morning and let her nap on her withered, weary chest. Similarly, when her overtired, tantrumming toddler screamed incessantly in her face for twenty solid minutes because she had the audacity to present a piece of cucumber on his lunchtime platter, she thumbed a copy of Grazia and ate the offending cucumber, before replacing it with some cheese and onion crisps. But don’t be fooled, she is no pushover. Oh, this girl can be clever. Eventually, much like Malcolm X, she’ll adopt the by-any-means-necessary approach and get that non-napping child sleeping, and that cucumber consumed, even if it does involve all kinds of manipulation and bribery – which if you think about it, is a big part of most business.
4. She has a massive bag packed with EVERYTHING
The office trendy twenty-something is likely to openly scoff when her working mum colleague flurries in every day, flooring people as she bustles by with a bag the size of a small car. She might even grimace slightly as she watches the mammoth monstrosity disembark heavily, collapsing in exhausted relief, onto the floor next to her own Aztec, asymmetric miniscule affair from Asos – but frankly, Working Mum’s bag shits all over Trendy Twenty-Something’s. That ugly vast bag is like Co Op in portable PVC form. Blister? You’ll find a Peppa Pig plaster in the zip-up compartment, top right. Mid-morning hangover munchies? There’s a packet of Mini Cheddars in the front pouch with the tatty Velcro closing. Unexpected period? Help yourself to the battered tampon sitting proudly on top of the Lamaze teething toy. This bag knows no bounds. Like its owner, it’s a bit awkward, battered and cumbersome, but is prepared for every possible situation life might throw at it. Trendy Twenty-Something shouldn’t get her hopes up too much though – that stuff scattered all over the bottom of Working Mum’s bag is formula, not the same white powder she has sitting at the bottom of her Class A clutch bag…
5. She’ll provide the entertainment at the Christmas party
While everyone else during the Christmas countdown is resentfully squeezing the office party into their packed social calendars, a working mum will have had the date ringed in her diary and been planning what to wear since June. For months, she’s bobbed up to people in the kitchen/ lift/ stairwell with the same excited question: “You going to the Christmas party?” Of course she’s excited! For the past year, her social life has consisted of weekly Singapore rice noodles and two glasses of Malbec in front of Gogglebox. So, when the big night arrives, you’ll see her squeezed into a halter-necked satin dress and a pair of kitten mules (with the price labels still on the soles), necking her complimentary glass of champagne far too quickly. By 8.30pm she’s the first, and only, one on the dancefloor getting the words wrong to Do They Know It’s Christmas? By 9.30pm, the female members of her department are hammering on the door of the loo she’s slumped in, after she thought it would be a laugh to snort the wrap of Ashton & Parsons teething powder she found at the bottom of her bejewelled evening bag. And by 10pm, she’s shoved by the satin arse into a cab with a worried looking driver behind the wheel, who then delivers her home to a waiting, eye-rolling partner. Will she wake remorseful? Will she fuck! Aside from the fact there is no time for shame thanks to her early-rising children, she had a brilliant evening. While she believes she was as witty as Oscar Wilde, she also gave her workmates something to talk about over their lattes the next morning and took the heat off the married man who snogged the girl on work experience – everyone’s a winner.
So there you have it – just five of many reasons why a working mum is quite handy in an office. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be that awkward, lumpy woman in the massive mum coat, pretending she has something in her eye. Don’t barf, but I’ll be a little extra blubby I reckon, because I’ll be saying goodbye not only to my babies, but to my blog too, for a while. Thank you so much for the huge support and kind comments! You’ve made a knackered, potty-mouthed mum very happy.
Ps you going to the Christmas party..?
Copyright belongs to Word To The Mothers – so please don’t nick me stuff!