I have been reflecting on my life recently and the whole concept of having it all. Of course everyone’s interpretation of ‘having it all’ is very
different but for me it is about having a family, friends, a social life, my own home and a career. The people I admire are the people who pursue all their passions in life. I want to be a role model for my children and for them to grow up being proud of my achievements.
There are two very opinionated camps in society when it comes to views on motherhood. There are the ones who believe being a stay at home mum is the most important and fulfilling job in the world and that you should not have children if you intend to go straight back to work. There are also those that feel that they need to go to work in order to fulfil their potential. Each to their own I say and what I think the most important point is really that we have the choice and that, as mothers we support each other with our different decisions. Some people don’t have the choice. I have a friend who is a single mum who wanted to work, got a job but then discovered that she was actually paying two hundred pounds a month to go to work so she had to give up her job. This is sadly the case for many mothers who want to work but simply can’t afford to, the choice is being taken away from them.
Being a stay at home mum is a hugely important job and can be very rewarding. I had the luxury of being able to stay at home but I knew very soon after having my first child, that for me personally is wasn’t enough. It is like my life is a jigsaw puzzle and without some kind of career, something that enabled me to engage my brain occasionally, there was a piece of the puzzle missing and a piece of me missing.
I have to add though that there is also the guilt that comes with being a mother, I felt like I not only gave birth to my son but also a massive guilt complex. Guilt about leaving him, guilt about even wanting to leave him. I felt like I was being judged constantly. I felt like some people had this view of being a stay at home mum as being so easy, days filled with watching tv and going to coffee shops. I must confess that before I had a baby, I had that view and I remember being pregnant at work counting down to the days when I could (in my mind) ‘lounge around’ at home. I admit I did become a loyal customer of Starbucks but that really was for my own sanity. Being a stay at home mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world. On a good day when I was in the park enjoying the sunshine with my baby and some friends, life was good but other days I really struggled. Stuck at home with no adult interaction, a screaming baby (and then worse still, a screaming baby and a toddler getting into everything), three loads of laundry to do, bottles to wash and countless poo filled nappies to clean up, the days felt endless and I longed to be rescued. I could not imagine spending the next few years of my life like that. It was hard to admit this to myself at first, it made me feel like a failure as a mother. I adore my two children, they are a part of my soul and life without them doesn’t bear thinking about but in order for them to get the best version of me I must be true to myself.
I started working freelance from home when my son was about six months old. It gave me not only a sense of achievement, but also a sense of freedom. I struggled so much with the idea of having an allowance from my husband. He didn’t give me much, £200 a month, but even that was too much for me. I didn’t have a problem with him paying the house bills but to give me money to get my hair cut, buy myself clothes or go out with my friend etc. made me feel very uncomfortable. I know I was looking after our children and my husband never ever made me feel guilty, it’s not his nature, in fact he was always offering to give me more, but for my own self worth I had to be earning my own money.
I have spent my entire adult life going from job to job, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, feeling envious of those people who had proper careers mapped out from their early twenties. I felt like I was drifting aimlessly until last year when I finally found my path and started my journey. I promised myself that 2014 would be the year when I really pushed myself with my writing and I am overjoyed to say that opportunities are already starting to come my way. I finally feel like I am complete. This is part of the reason that it has been 17 days since my last blog, it seems life has started to get in the way a bit and a blog every week may not be possible but I will endeavour to write here as often as I can.
In a recent interview in Red magazine Liz Earle (business woman and mother of five! ) was asked ‘can you have it all’ and her answer was ‘it depends how much you want’. I think that is the key, in order to have it all you need to be realistic about what having it all means to you and don’t compare yourself to others, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt. Don’t beat yourself up on those days when having it all is just too much to handle. Don’t try to conform to others interpretations of having it all, always be true to yourself.
It’s true that you’ve got to be true to yourself. I’m very lucky to have a job that fits around my family perfectly. It’s crazy busy with many, many missed lunches but like I say, I’m extremely lucky to be able to work, have adult company and so get a little bit of me back. I actually look at some of my SAHM friends with pity and silent relief that its not me… ‘Right’ or ‘wrong’ that’s my thought.
Thanks for your views. I think I actually look at my stay at home friends with slight envy because perhaps if its what you love doing then life is simple. If you can get all you require in life from that then maybe you’re lucky. That’s just not the case for me!
This story reminds me of wonderful book ´The Alchemist, by Paul Coehlo. Searching and going full circle, then realising there is no place like home. May the grass be greener somewhere else? Maybe! The thought of commuting to London everyday working a 80 hour week. I prefer the simple life that destiny has provided me with. Can we have it all, the simple answer is No, something has to give. As for a stay at home mum, with the super powers of a pen and paper and t´internet, the commute has gone, you´ve made you own bed, a good solid bed in the best place in the world.