j4: (orange)
[personal profile] j4
So over the last couple of days I've been thinking about "having it all".

On Tuesday morning after breakfast [livejournal.com profile] addedentry went off to work. I got Img dressed, took her to nursery in the cargo bike, came home, changed into smarter clothes, picked up my work laptop and my handbag, cycled into town in time to do half an hour's work from a café in preparation for a meeting, had the meeting (with a very senior academic), did some more work in a different café, cycled to St Anne's for a conference. After the day's talks had ended several of the delegates went to the pub; I texted Owen to check how he was getting on with Img, she was having a post-nursery nap, so I stayed at the pub between the end of the talks and the conference dinner. The conference dinner didn't go on ridiculously late (and Owen had texted to reassure me that Img had gone to sleep OK); cycled home in the dark, talked to Owen, did a bit of work on my presentation for the next day.

On Wednesday morning I was feeling really quite ill, didn't manage much breakfast (was going to have a rice cake but Img asked if she could have it after I'd eaten about two bites, and I felt too feeble to argue), cycled back to St Anne's for day 2 of the conference. Owen took Img to nursery, cycled home, and got the bus back into town to catch a train to Canterbury for a different conference. I gave my presentation, stayed for the rest of the conference (which finished at lunch), went for lunch with a colleague/friend, did an afternoon's work in the office (one of the three offices where I currently have a desk!), cycled home, changed into less-smart clothes, got the bus to nursery with the buggy to pick Img up, walked home with her (so that she could have a nap). Did some vaguely useful stuff while she napped, gave her a feed when she woke up, had a FaceTime chat with Owen, then let Img watch Andy Pandy on YouTube while I made tea (cheese & beans on toast). We had our dinner, played a little bit, read some books, then got ready for bed. Read Img a 'sleepy story', gave her a feed and got her to sleep; I stayed up for a little while, couldn't face doing the washing up, checked work email, arranged a meeting with a Professor of Russian for the next day, then decided to get an earlier-than-usual night: went up to bed with "Master and Commander" and a cup of peppermint tea, read a bit, went to sleep.

Wonder of wonders, Img slept until 5:15am this morning, so when she woke me I felt loads better; gave her a feed, got her back to sleep, had another doze myself, she woke me again at 7:30, at which point we got up, got dressed, went downstairs, had breakfast, played a little bit, then I took her to nursery in the bike. I had booked today off work (partly so I could do nursery pick-up and drop-off without worrying, partly so that I could go to an all-day meet-up with Oxbridge web folk -- this no longer really 'counts' as work for either my main job or the one I'm currently seconded to, but I'm interested and the people involved are friends too) but the web-folk meetup was cancelled at the last minute (due to illness and emergency meetings on both sides) so I had an unexpected free day. On the way back from nursery I stopped at the big charity shop that I don't often get to go to, bought some clothes for me and some books for Img, then went to the Co-op to buy food before cycling home. At home I did last night's washing up, put some laundry on, tidied a bit, ate lunch (leftovers from the meal Owen cooked for Img on Tuesday night), finished reading "Master and Commander", tidied a bit more, hung out the laundry, got changed into smart clothes, and went to meet the Professor of Russian (yes, on a holiday, it was the only day we could manage because she's off to Russia on a field trip in a couple of days) in a café (because it was near the station and she had to catch a train back to London). My line manager came to the meeting too (and bought us coffee), she'd forgotten I was on holiday. After the meeting we talked work for a bit, then I cycled home, changed into less-smart clothes, sorted through my postcards and stuck some nice ones up on the huge bare bit of wall in the dining room (which I've been meaning to do for a while), then walked to nursery to pick Img up in the buggy. She napped again, we got home, while she napped I read email/Twitter/etc, then when she woke up I fed her, we FaceTimed Owen again, then she played 'Happy Mrs Chicken' on the iPad while I made tea (pasta with broccoli, fruit salad for afters). After tea Img said she wanted to "see the dark" so I took her outside to help me get the laundry in (she said she was cold and wanted to go inside). Img checked that I was OK with her toy stethoscope, we read some books, then got ready for bed. She had her feed (too tired for a story) and went to sleep. Now I'm writing this before going to put more laundry on (nappies this time) to wash overnight, probably faffing a bit on the internet and then going to bed.

Tomorrow is my normal day off work, and my mum's visiting; we'll probably go out for lunch (unless she brings lunch with her), we'll play a bit, and hopefully Img will nap after my mum's gone home. Then in the late afternoon Owen gets back, and also Img's friend Zoë is coming over to eat pizza and watch DVDs (teenagers in training...) while Zoë's parents finish packing (they're moving house at the weekend and I gather it's quite hard to pack with a toddler who keeps unpacking as you go...).

The thing is... I've pretty much always lived like this. The only difference is that now there's a child in the mix as well. I have always ended up cycling frantically to and from home, work, meetings, pubs, the station, choir rehearsals/concerts, orchestra rehearsals/concerts, whatever. It's always been an endless game of fox/goose/grain with different modes of transport and assorted instruments/laptops/luggage/shoes/clothes/partners. I had to slow down a bit when I was off on maternity leave (I took a long time to get usefully mobile/functional again, I couldn't cycle with Img, and I wasn't going to work), but otherwise basically I've been "trying to have it all" for the last 20 years or so. Even more so when I was going out with Owen and he still lived in London, so we were trying to live together 90 miles apart and go to every gig/concert/film/party available and each hold down a full-time job. Why is "having it all" only used to apply to a woman trying to look after a child and does a not-working-from-home job? Why not anybody who has, say, a job and a time-consuming hobby and a long-distance partner and a garden to look after and... you know, all the kinds of things that people do whether or not they have children? And yes, I know the answer to that "why not" is "because patriarchy", and because if you're looking after children you're supposed to (or at least supposed to want to) do that 24/7 and never do anything else except [vague handwave] child things ... but, well, it's still silly. So let's stop saying it. PROBLEM SOLVED!

(I have a separate rant about the phrase "work/life balance" and the implied idea that your work is not ACTUALLY PART OF YOUR LIFE, but that will have to wait for another time.)
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