Scottish MP Kirsty Blackman was recently censured for bringing her children to a committee hearing.
She normally leaves her children in Scotland with her husband when she travels down to London for work, but her family faced childcare issues because Scottish schools and nurseries close for the summer at the end of June, weeks before parliament's summer recess. So she faced a choice - stay home and miss out on vital votes, or bring her kids to work with her.
She chose the latter.
Us working mums like to think that we can separate our Professional Woman Selves from our Mum Selves. Our Professional Woman Selves wear heels and a suit. Our Mum Selves wear trainers and jeggings covered in snot stains. Our Professional Woman Selves drink hot coffee while working at a desk. Our Mum Selves drink half a mug cup of lukewarm tea while simultaneously trying to stop a toddler from drawing on the couch. Our Professional Woman Selves have serious professional discussions with other similarly serious people. Our Mum Selves have read That's Not My Lion a dozen times before 10am. They are two distinct personas.
But, as Kirsty Blackman found out, it's not always that simple. Sometimes our Professional Woman Selves and our Mum Selves collide. It happened to me just last week.
I dropped off my daughter at nursery at 8:00, and at 9:30 I got a message from them saying that the nursery was flooded and I needed to come collect her. I rang my husband and asked if he could take on childcare duties for the day. He said that he could, but it was going to be a while before he could get into city centre to pick her up. So I left my desk, walked down the street to the nursery, got my daughter and brought her back to my office.
Suddenly, all of my colleagues who had only known my Professional Woman Self got to meet my Mum Self. They seemed to like her. They told Mum Self how adorable her daughter was and asked her all kinds of questions about mum things - did her daughter like nursery? Could she walk yet? Was she teething? They were nice, but it felt kind of wrong. Professional Woman Self tried to assert herself.
"Look, Hootsuite!" she said brightly to the toddler, pointing at her computer screen. "Do you want to help mama manage some social media accounts?"
The little girl shook her head and started to whimper. Mum Self had to step back in and scoop up her daughter into her arms. She carried her around the office, pointing out plants and filing cabinets, until her husband arrived to take their daughter home. Professional Woman Self could take charge again. Mum Self was gone.
Or was she?
I'm not sure that Mum Self ever really goes away, even at work. Professional Woman Self still has nappies in her handbag and dark circles under her eyes, after all. She keeps her mobile phone within arm's reach and checks it constantly, just in case the nursery calls looking for Mum Self.
"Is this Popple's mum?" they ask.
Professional Woman Self doesn't hesitate. "Yes," she says.
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