Who Are You Today?

Christina May
Staff Writer

When I was young my mother used to say that if she was paid for all the jobs she did, my father wouldn’t be able to afford her. Mothers are nurses, taxi drivers, cooks, accountants…. The list goes on. That was back in the 70s and my mother did not work outside the family.

Fast-forward to the present day and we all have careers to add to our resume of daily tasks. Society has changed enough that we have partners who now share the responsibility for home and family. Which is great, because we also have children who need to be ‘entertained’. Life is so much more complicated and demanding.

We take work home and we take home to work - all courtesy of the little device we carry in our pockets. There are no clear boundaries. There are no defined places to stop and take a breath.

Back in the day, we had a phone on the windowsill in the hallway. If we were not near the hallway, we were not contactable.

In the depths of the 80s I had a job where I was on-call occasionally. We were pre-mobile phone, but the pager was our badge of importance. Even at my tender age and even though I was keen to impress my boss, I resented my pager. It was the fact that it could go off where ever I was. It had no respect for my time. I left the pager out of earshot a couple of times and I discovered something that was not only a revelation then, but has stood me in good stead ever since:

If you don’t respond immediately, the great emergency turns out not to be such an emergency and in most cases, by the time you call back, the panic has passed and the problem has been solved.

Back to my original question: Who Are You Today?

Are you Mum? Are you Employee? Are you Wife? Are you Taxi Driver. Personal Shopper or Events Coordinator? Are you Confused?

Are you responding all the time, to everyone and everything? Where is your breathing time? Your thinking time? Your processing time?

My mother used to cook and clean in the morning, watch Pebble Mill and knit in the afternoon and then start again when we came home from school. At 5 o'clock she brushed her hair and put the potatoes on. At 5:30 my father came home from work and we sat down to dinner.

TV was not 24-hours, shops closed on Wednesday afternoons. Only the paper shop opened on a Sunday morning. This meant that we had no option but to spend time relaxing with the family. We did not have to schedule our downtime.

There were clear boundaries. People rarely suffered from stress as we know it today. If you pile rocks on to a piece of wood, eventually it reaches crisis point and breaks. We wear our rocks with pride. We juggle them and tell others how clever we are to carry them all. If we are lucky, we feel the wood creak and have time to do something about our load. Very often the whole lot just comes crashing down on top of us.

Far better to find a way to carry one rock at a time. Be one person at a time.