Our latest blog is by BBC 6 Music presenter Nemone Metaxas
I’m fresh back to work after my second baby and marvelling at how any of you with children has ever held down a steady job, kept your sanity and kept the little people from turning into wild, unfed feral reprobates.
I am just about getting to grips with the hat changing necessary to look after the kids for most of the week and then present two weekend breakfast shows at the end of it. Managing to string a comprehensible thought together for work in my spongy post baby brain still results in much rejoicing on my part.
I felt like I was making a momentous decision to go back to work in October, only three months after having had my baby boy. Long by French minister Rachida Dati’s standards, short by many other industries. It’s ironic but it feels like we can’t be invisible for very long in radio.
He is young for me to be back at work but I’m very lucky it’s daddy he’s with when I’m on air. And for my two year old daughter hearing mummy on the radio is the most normal thing so my not being there for Saturday morning scrambled eggs is no biggie when I am around to marshall breakfast for the rest of the week.
And radio can be an incredibly flexible a working environment when you have kids. I remind myself of this as I hurl my body 6 music wards at 5.30am having just expressed my boy’s morning feed – praying my chest doesn’t explode before I get back to him after the show. It is surreal to be interviewing Philip Seymour Hoffman in one instance and hacking back home to feed and be faced with yellow nappy explosions the next. It would be impossible for me to do what I do though without an incredibly understanding partner and the unconditional and immeasurable support of my family. I know women who’ve had to rethink their career because they just couldn’t get cover for their children. And couldn’t be at the beck and call of their radio master.
My partner and I had lengthy discussions about how great it would be to share maternity leave, especially as at the time I was still doing the Lunchtime Show on 6 Music from London. Parental leave must be an option in industries where often a woman can be bringing in a good share of the family income. It would be tricky to implement but sometimes those are the very policies we should be supporting. However looking at the opposition ‘parental leave’ came in for in recent months we’re a little way off it becoming a reality. It would be a great step towards true equality if parents could divide family life and work how it suits them best and not down pre-ordained lines.
But whilst radio seems more forgiving my side of the mic in comparison to other media environments might there be more creative ways of job sharing? Ensuring women remain ever present whilst enabling them to have a family too.
Cerys Matthews and I talked about sharing the lunchtime slot on 6 Music. She covered my show whilst I was on my first maternity leave and was pregnant with her third baby when I came back to work. We thought it could be a great solution for us both to broadcast but still be child caring for a good part of the week. What a creative challenge it would be but equally a great nurturing of staff for a network to encourage this kind of shared input into a daily radio show. Although that’s all very well for presenters to ponder I do wonder what interesting challenges that might throw up for production teams? Answers on a postcard.
And I wonder if that’s how Mark and Stuart at 6 Music divvy things up. Often one of them presents the Radcliffe and Maconie show alone. A brilliant strategy resulting in a wealth of on air creative resources behind one daily show. And an unrivalled degree of flexibility for its hosts.
So as mum and presenter I’m glad that Sound Women now exists. For me it isn’t a forum for man bashing and beating the feminist drum. But partly about ensuring women don’t get lost when they decide they want to start a family and perhaps might want to enjoy their career alongside it. And celebrating what women have achieved and can achieve in this rewarding and richly creative industry.
I take (my many) hats off to you ladies (and gentlemen) for holding it together – the job, the kids, the sanity – and making it look easy. The constant spinning of plates is mind boggling and fun to pretend you can do without any dropping.
Listen to Nemone on BBC 6 Music, Saturday and Sunday, 0700-1000