I’m not a typical “working mum.” I don’t leave home at a set time every day to return at the same time each day… Nor do I have a work routine. And the times that I do work are sporadic to say the least.
But I like it that way because it means for the most part, I’m at home and available to my children.
That said I’m not your typical “stay at home mum” either. I cant commit to weekly playgroups because one week differs from the next. I don’t linger at the school playground to chat to other Mums for a much needed piece of adult conversation because I’ve most likely got somewhere to go.
But with one foot in each camp, I can genuinely see how parents make daily sacrifices regardless of whether they work in the traditional sense or not.
And I don’t mean this in a negative “never have children or your life is DOOMED” kind of way. But I’m expressing this because I feel the heaviness and duty that goes with juggling work and parenthood and the guilt at feeling we are not doing a good enough job often goes unnoticed.
Yes we have Mothers/Fathers Day and we get a card, flowers and a few chocolates if we’re being spoilt. But after that, on we go day in day out doing the same household chores, preparing the same meals, cleaning the same floors while dealing with the countless needs and wants of our little people. And on top of that doing whatever else is asked of us, work, social or otherwise.
We get tired. God knows I’m tired.
And I hear Mums tell me that they’ve lost themselves since having children. That they’ve been unable to work or find work with suitable hours. Some say they’ve lost their figures. Their looks. Most of us feel that we’ve lost pretty much most of our free time.
And I get that. I get all of it. Before having children I spent most of my weeks travelling up and down the country giving workshops or performing at different venues. I was free to flit and float as I pleased.
Now it sees I have to make an appointment if I want to take a bath… How times have changed!
But it was when I made another work sacrifice this week that I realised that all of these things aren’t really losses. These are choices that I’ve made.
To clarify, I was offered some work. Some regular, full time work from home. “Great!” I thought. “I can fit it all in in-between the school runs and lunch breaks and put the telly on for my eldest while my youngest naps…” But that wasn’t quite how it all worked out.
I discovered that multi-tasking full time work at home with children is verging on the impossible. At least for me anyway.
The house was a tip, the kids were running riot and everyone including me was hungry, tired and very, very cranky.
At the end of the day I was so grateful for bedtime but my work deadlines lingered on my mind. My chest felt tight and I felt absolutely stressed to the max.
I can’t do this, I thought.
I can’t dedicate myself fully to this full time work and be the mindful, attentive aren’t I want to be.
So something had to give. I thought about what made me happier. Spending my time focusing on the children or carving out a writing career. Both, really. But I couldn’t do it both at the same time AND keep my sanity so I spoke to my manager and explained the situation.
No problem, Get back to us when you’re fully available 🙂
Which will probably be in a couple of years. I was grateful for the opportunity and I loved the creative challenge but it wasn’t for me and my family at this moment in time.
I am fortunate to have freelance work and an employed husband to get us by financially but my children won this dilemma hands down.
It’s true, you give up a lot when you become a parent. And there’s always one parent that seems to have given up more. But it’s not forever and ultimately we are all doing what’s best for our family.
Yes, I miss writing whenever I please. And when I’m turning down yet another job I could easily have sulked and dwelled on thoughts of what I’ve lost. But you know what. Aside from losing an awful lot of time, energy and even my mind at times, I’ve gained an awful lot.
I have two little human beings that love me and who I adore. And if that’s a sacrifice I have to make, it’s one worth making.
So to parents who may be mourning their previous lives or dwelling on their hardships, I feel your pain. But this won’t always feel as hard. Hang on in there. It’ll all be worth it in the end whatever choices you make.