Articles

Power Mums: Zoe Williams

by .
Originally published in Management Today

Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist, Telegraph restaurant reviewer and author and has two children aged five and seven.

Her husband is a geologist and they have a ‘sort of au pair ,but she doesn’t live with us’. Her new book is called ‘Get it together: why we deserve better politics’.

HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY MANAGE WORK AND CHILDREN?

It used to work really, really well. I’d do the school run and then work from home and be in – but not necessarily looking after them – when they got home from school. And I’d pick them up a few times a week and that was lovely.

But now I’ve written a book and, being an author, you have to be like a rag-and-bone man travelling the country to sell it to people, and it’s really embarrassing. You stand in a room with strangers in Bristol and, at the end, say ‘buy my book’. Mortifying.

Anyway, because of the book, I said ‘yes’ to going to loads of things and, of course, the children really hate me being away.

WILL IT ALWAYS BE LIKE THIS?

My plan now is to stop going out every night, because I know that the kids are going to remember it. I remember all the times my mother didn’t show up – like when she didn’t come to the maypole and I had to do a doubles dance on my own. And the time she was supposed to meet me in Sainsbury’s with her chequebook and I had to wander around with a trolley for an hour waiting for her. These memories are seared in me. Yet somehow I don’t remember all the times that she killed herself to be there.
I know it will be the same with my kids; they will remember that I wasn’t there. So, for my own peace of mind, I need to be able to yell at them when they are 25 that I was there every year… Well, aside from the front end of 2015.

WHAT ROLE DOES YOUR HUSBAND PLAY?

So he has this whole gender-bias analysis going on where, in his head, I do everything that I do for the kids just because I want to. For example, doing the school run because I like chatting to other mums. And I do like other mums, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

WHAT DO OTHER MUMS THINK OF YOU?

Oh, I think they think I’m nutty and say inappropriate things to my children. I try to explain political things in the wrong way and it all backfires. Like somehow giving them the impression that food banks are all Stalin’s fault. And then I try to row back. I’ll be talking about the environmental apocalypse and realise that I might be scaring them, like my own childhood fears of a nuclear bomb.

Actually I do slightly worry that I might be one of those cliquey-bitch mums. It hasn’t escaped my notice that my gang is the hard drinking crew and maybe we’re a bit ‘Mean Girls’…

You can read the full interview on Management Today


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