The landscape of motherhood is forever changing isn’t it? As we approach October, and our youngest daughter’s fourth birthday, there’s been a wind of change in the air around here. I hasten to add these are my thoughts, my feelings and are not intended as a slur on anyone else’s life decisions..it’s just how I am currently reflecting on where my life is at, and more importantly, where it’s heading.
For starters, this milestone means it’s now four years since I left my job for a major healthcare company to go off on my year of maternity leave, unaware that life was about to throw me a curve ball in the form of being made redundant and in effect, becoming a stay at home Mum for the foreseeable future.
Four years has gone by in a blink, thanks to the amazing times I’ve had being totally dedicated to my daughters. We’ve had highs and lows along the way of course, and having this very blog as a creative outlet and form of income has undoubtedly kept me sane and able to see this out, around the needs of the girls.
On the other hand, the days of going into an actual work place feel like a lifetime ago. In the time that’s passed I’ve gone from being a sleep deprived Mum of a needy newborn and lively toddler to a Mum to two little girls who have both well and truly passed the days of weaning, potty training (finally) and sleepless nights (thank God!). Of course they still need me, still depend on me (perhaps more than ever thanks to the fact that they have had me 100%) but my role has undoubtedly changed.
And although I am still passionate about sharing my parenting journey, our family experiences and muses on motherhood, even my blog can at times feel less natural – after all, my parenting dilemmas aren’t what they used to be. As the girls grow their issues may not be mine to share and as such I know I need to blog more about me than them; tricky when you’re somewhat of a shy blogger.
So whilst I’ll no doubt always blog in some shape or form, I guess I’d be lying if I said knowing what to blog about was as easy these days; hence this very blog post. I want to blog my life, not blogging to be my life.
I will always stand by the fact that life dealt me a trump card with the timing of my redundancy – it presented me an opportunity to spend quality time with my daughters when they needed me most, it opened up choices for them which weren’t possible should I have stayed in work. I have always stood by the fact that this setup has been right for us for now, and been open to considering change in the future, declaring I’d know when the time felt right.
The thing is, what I’m trying to say, is that I’m starting to feel that this chapter is coming to an end, I can recognise the signs and whilst there is no knee jerk reaction required just yet, I believe before long, I will need to return to my career in some shape or form.
Examining the evidence
I definitely know in my heart of hearts I’m starting to crave a little more of the world outside of my bubble. I have pangs of envy when other Mums (and Dads) talk about work pressures, dilemmas, social events and accolades. Whilst I have always been proud of creating a blog and a business, it isn’t always easy to work for yourself, on your own, and in a field you are learning as you go along.
A regular salary would be nice too, wouldn’t it? Contributing properly to the household – treating myself and the girls, and DMT too, without having to use his earnings to pay for them? Of course I have been fortunate to monetise my blog, but the effort vs return in blogging is not for the faint hearted I promise you…
I long to have a reason to dress up smart, and despite believing anyone can wear what they want to feel special, I guess I just want to be somewhere feeling special – not all dressed up with nowhere to go.
I’m lonely. There, I said it. Feelings of isolation as a new Mum are long behind me, but the truth is, as a stay at home Mum you’re in the minority. Other folk will offer to catch up with you for a coffee, but you’ll also be the first thing they cancel when their busy lives get in the way. Harsh but true; and even if you do keep your commitments, there are only so many coffee mornings I can build my week around. I’m really lucky to have a lot of friends locally who are at the end of a phone for a brew, but centring your time around other people’s schedules can knock your self esteem. I miss an environment where I meet new and interesting people from all walks of life – young, old, male, female, vibrant with different cultures, enthusiastic brand new or with a lifetime of stories; all of whom will enlighten me with their experiences and with whom I can share mine. There is only so many folk you can chat to on the school run.
Which brings me to my next point. I’m craving intellectual conversation; learning, accountability, delivering. And with things that don’t revolve around domestic chores. Reward and recognition, a regular salary even. Performing and having a passion about what I do. Feeling proud of my career again, instead of being asked over and over what I am doing with my life and feeling the need to justify my existence. Of course, there are two little girls who justify my existence a thousand times over on a daily basis, but I know one day they will understand that their Mummy also had more to give, like I hope they will too. That’s something I cannot apologise for.
In another lifetime I studied a degree in Biology on day release from work, whilst climbing my way up the career ladder. I obtained a first class degree and a managerial position by my mid twenties – I was always a grafter, with my hands in multiple pies, getting stuff done. I also experienced being a working Mum after my first daughter, and I know I am perfectly capable of doing it again.
And then, finally, an escape from these four walls and coming back to them as a sanctuary, instead of feeling like I have lodgings in my workplace. Spending my days googling the best ways to clean plug holes and picking up stuff is starting to wear me down. I mean, I love keeping a clean home but everything in moderation and I know that in absence of something of real substance going on in my brain, I’m filling it with cleaning. I guess I just have too much time on my hands and bandwidth in my brain. I want to clean in moderation, around every day life, like normal people, not end up on ‘Obsessive compulsive cleaners’.
So what now?
In a matter of weeks it’ll be half term, and then soon after, my seasonal Christmas job will be on the horizon. That takes me up to the new year. When then it’ll just be six months until it’s all change again – the Mouse will be leaving pre school and starting big school with her sister.
With my short term job iminent, and just six months of the two hour window stage left to get me through to having seen the Mouse right through to school, I feel I want to see this to the end. But, knowing the end is coming, I already feel different inside. It makes me want to scoop up my babies and hold them tight, and embrace every sacred moment. It makes me excited for the future and what lays ahead for us all.
Those who seek a flexible family friendly career, teach?
I have talked for a long time about the possibility of teacher training, and undeniably the term time hours and holidays have a huge appeal. With a degree in Biology and a curiosity towards a career in teaching science, discussions I’ve had have opened up many possible avenues I could follow, to step into the unknown world of education.
But. And there is a big but…do I really want to be a teacher? Work with kids even? It would be a big risk and boy does teaching get a bad press. I just don’t know if it’s the right time, or the right choice for me at this time in my life.
And so, I will investigate all options. Look for something part time, giving me the balance I need to be with my still young family, but to allow me to rebuild my self esteem and confidence in a role other than being Mummy. Investigate employers who offer flexibility to parents and feel empowered to ask for flexible working options. Read up on retraining, network, try and work out what my options are. I know one thing, and that is plenty of other women do it, so why can’t I?
Feel the fear and do it anyway
Of course, the very idea of interviews, applications, childcare and summer holiday cover fills me with dread. I have no doubt that getting this right won’t be easy. What do I want to do, how will this work for us all? But I have to believe that there really are flexible employers out there, who might appreciate what one hard working passionate woman has to offer. Knowing it won’t be easy isn’t enough to stop me pursuing the rest of my life, is it? I have to believe it is right to let go of my babies a little, undoubtedly something that has been heightened by the loss of our second daughter and just how precious I came to realise we are to each other. Giving birth to my ‘rainbow baby’ then being made redundant whilst still very much coming to terms with the loss of our second daughter has for sure, carved out the path we walked together. But the time will come for us to spread our wings and fly. As I watch them grow and learn every day I realise my life is still for living, and I want to grow and learn too.
I know I am not alone in reaching this stage where I want more. I have watched other bloggers modify their blog names, grab new careers with both hands, seen my friends take on new part time roles, increase their hours, find new jobs which work around their families. I’m inspired by the amazing strong women around me juggling successful careers, empowering roles around motherhood, and I suppose I long for a little slice of the action again. The all encompassing baby days behind us, our family will undoubtedly reap the rewards of Mum rekindling a side of her which has been dormant for a while. I’ll always blog my journey truthfully, and they will always know that the years being solely their Mum have been the best days of my life. But, as they need me less, and a part of me has again, become redundant, there has to be bandwith to find a new balance.
I’ll always be their Mummy, nothing will ever change that, but as the future shape is shifting, I’m feeling positive about this last year and the possibilities in finding a balance that lies beyond.
Raw, unfiltered, forever a Mum Muddling Through