My annual job appraisal is coming up this Sunday (euphemistically called "Mother's Day" by those trying to benefit commercially from it). Us mothers know the truth - this is the day when our little bosses demonstrate their gratitude for all the work we do throughout the year. Or rather, cynically, this is the day when we get presented with cards that school has bullied them into making and with presents that were clearly bought in a version of supermarket sweep at approximately 6pm on the evening before Mother's Day.
Mother's Day is the one day of the year when the little bosses get to appraise my contribution to the family firm over the last year. Actually, all things considered, I think I've had a pretty good year, demonstrating dedication to the task in hand, flexibility, commitment and a willingness to work long hours in some frankly quite trying circumstances.
I think I am able to show a degree of self-awareness - I know my strengths and weaknesses. My strengths - committed, fair, able to retain a GSOH (absolutely crucial in my workplace), open to constructive criticism (of which there is plenty and not always constructive I might add) and able to perform any task however menial (albeit somewhat unenthusiastically) - a large part of this morning has been spent extracting chewing gum from my daughter's tights which she apparently (for some reason that is only fathomable to a six year old) found it hysterically amusing to stick to her leg yesterday.
My weaknesses - could try harder with my appearance (apparently tracksuit bottoms are not appropriate workwear), useless at "creative" stuff (isn't that what "Amazon" is for?), a little bit "shouty" (the bosses' descriptor but it is a very pressurised job), don't iron (but I am an expert "folder"), rubbish at French plaits (excuse - allergic to horses? Weak I know) and rather too reliant on pesto pasta as a default dinner. I promise to work on these things over the next year although I suspect that I shall always be a bit "shouty" and pesto will remain a key ingredient in my bosses' diet.
I suppose any job appraisal should bring dialogue about my working conditions and remuneration. I am under no illusions: remuneration (there isn't any), days off (there aren't any), benefits package (still not materialised), promotion (zero chance thereof). I have to admit that there have been a few occasions over the last year when I have considered going on strike over working conditions (despite the reality that my life is more picket fence than picket line) but there is really little point - no-one else is going to do my job and without me and the Finance Director (father) exerting some semblances of discipline, I can imagine the household disintegrating into some sort of nightmare "Lord of the Flies" scenario rather swiftly.
All in all, I guess it is a fairly satisfactory position. My bosses are generally even-handed in their treatment of me, although I do sometimes feel there is a lack of gratitude and recognition of my value added and perhaps they are little quick to criticise without appreciation of the complexity of my job. That said, they do allow me very occasionally to watch a whole episode of EastEnders without interruption and they are very accommodating of my evening glass of wine. They are affectionate and loyal (well, one is..according to my daughter, I am the "best mummy ever", whereas my sons are slightly more reluctant to hand me such accolades, even plumping for "the worst mummy ever" with rather monotonous regularity). And I am loyal too: I've been in this job for twelve years now and fully expect to see out my working days in the same family firm.
So we will see what Sunday brings. I have to admit to a few nerves about my annual job appraisal but I am fairly confident that my bosses will decide to retain my services for another year. Parenting - a much underestimated and undervalued profession.