Friday, 24 October 2008

Nits just not fair

I discovered lice in Ella’s hair othe other morning. I kept her out of school for the day, took her to the pharmacist and made a few calls to my clients to reschedule my work commitments. 

No problem. As a freelancer, I can de-nit without dropping a stitch.

A friend of mine recently had to take a day off from work with her son so she could treat him for headlice. Her line manager admonished her with ‘when I have children I won’t do a job like this’. 

Really? Does she plan to provide for her future children on a Tesco’s wage then? I know some mothers manage this, but it’s some kind of alchemy that I can’t fathom. Most working mums in professional jobs are there because they need a professional wage.

The morning after her impromptu day off, my friend realised - in the middle of a presentation to a new client - that she had wildlife crawling on her scalp. Poor love. Too worried about what her line manager would say, she dared not cancel her next meeting to go home and delouse. Oh no. She spent the rest of the working day trying desperately not to scratch. 

It sounds like the cruel premise for a challenge on the Japanese game show, Endurance. Surely this is above and beyond the call of duty?

But I know how she feels. We working parents are expected to be grateful for every damned UNPAID day’s leave we take due to child-related complications. The absent mum usually feels so guilty that she’ll do her damndest to ‘make up the time’ by working late or bringing work home...I know. I’ve been there.

However, I must confess that I’m a recent convert to this point of view. In my pre-child days, I scowled at my colleagues-cum-mothers who left work on-the-dot at 5pm, shamelessly eschewing the unspoken rule that any nine-to-fiver worth their salt really should be working from eight to seven.

At the time, being a fun-loving girl in my twenties, I never once thought about my own lack of productivity from coming into work still a bit drunk from the previous night. Oh, and of course the unauthorised ‘duvet days’ to nurse a hangover. Childless people go for After Work Drinks. Even on Mondays.

I also had weeks off at a time with flu and colds worsened by my twenty-a-day smoking habit. Most mums I know stop smoking in pregnancy. And there was the regular morning brain fog due to regular evening spliffs.

At least working parents usually know how to act like grown-ups. If only our childless colleagues could treat us like ones.

Not only do working parents have a better work ethic, we are more efficient. We have to be. How else could we look after our children and our partners, earn money, do all the shopping and cooking AND maintain close friendships and fun hobbies? We alone know how to warp space and time. 

Tell that to your lousy line manager.

1 comment:

Agepe (MediaPembelajaran SastraIndonesia) said...

Hm... Hi... just droppin by to say greetings from Indonesia