I have never really thought about it before but I have always been a working Mum. After having Leo I went back to work, albeit initially only for a few hours a week, but I was back after about five months. I consider myself extremely lucky to have worked in a field that provides flexibility in my hours, and I have made the most of that flexibility since becoming a mother. I have just never really thought of how working and what you do is so much of who you are.
Since moving I have found it difficult to find work. Well that is not true, I had a job lined up, which happened quite easily, but unforeseen circumstances have meant that that job has now fallen through and I find myself twenty weeks pregnant (almost) and without a job. Yes, I still have my own little business, but this was never the main provider, I almost didn’t even think of that as work because I just squeeze it in around whatever other job I had at the time.
To say I am stressed about it is quite the understatement, I have worked since the moment I could. I am a worker, and with the stress of having no on-going job plus all the wonderful pregnancy hormones, most days, you will find me in quite a mess by the time we put the children to bed.
Luckily for me, I live with the most stress free man in the world. He is forever reminding me there are worse things that could happen. We have means, we have two beautiful, happy, healthy children, I have a baby in my belly who is giving me nice strong kicks and we both have our health. Things are fine. I know all this, but the worrier in me can’t help but worry.
I have never thought about work so much as now, when I am not really working.
It’s funny, all these articles are constantly popping up on my Facebook about the guilt that working mothers feel. What about the guilt that stay at home mum’s feel? The feeling that you want to contribute, the reminder that you have to give yourself that you are contributing by looking after the children. The feeling that you want to help provide for your family, the feeling that you want to show your children a good example of working in a career that you enjoy and maybe even love. The guilt that you feel because you remember the break you used to get at work, and how you want to be away from the kids for just a little while.
I have two small children, I know I work hard. I have one child who loves to find the scissors, where ever they are and find things to chop (yesterday I walked in to the kitchen, Leo sitting on a stool with the scissors in one hand and his little finger in between the cutting aspect of them: Childproofing does not work for super tall three year olds!!), and another who climbs into precarious places (the bathroom vanity for example), there is no break. Not even a toilet stop equates to privacy and, some days, the nine hours that my husband is away feels like an eternity.
I am not saying I don’t love my job as a mum, I do, I love it, I feel so lucky to get to do it, it’s just some days, going to work was easier.
I never felt guilt in working. I missed them and I worried about them but I never felt guilt.I do feel it in not working.
It is a huge privilege to stay home with the kids. And quite frankly, it is a privilege most of us cannot afford. We all go to work so that we make a better life for ourselves, for our families, not just financially but mentally as well. I am quickly learning it is good to get away from the four walls of your house and the small chasing hands of your children, working gives us the chance to do this.
I can’t help but think that I should take this, “non-working” time to re-evaluate things.
Truth be told, before we found out we were having another baby I was looking at different courses I could do. Then those lines showed up on a pregnancy test and the idea of that was shut down.
I think the hardest thing for me, between the career I currently have and my little hobby of writing there is really nothing that is calling me. I loved what I did and I was good at it, I love writing and I’m going to keep doing that regardless of whether I am good at that or not. But how do you really know what you want to do when you grow up? What if you are already a grown up with a real grown up job, how do you know if it is right? [see being home is giving me too much time to think… and bake but that is a whole other issue!]
I know so many Mum’s go through this. It’s what I call a Mum-Life Crisis, not knowing if the job they had before is what they want to do now they are a Mum. I think that is why we see the birth of so many fantastic small businesses owned and created by Mums.
Like I said, so much of who we are is defined by what we do, and what if who you are has changed since becoming someone’s mother? Your needs change, your priorities shift, your goals are different, or maybe I’m the only one and everyone just stays the same and goes back to the same old job, fitting the baby into the same life they had before pre-kids.
I write this not for sympathy about my lack of job, or to pass my stresses on to anyone else, but in the hope that other Mum’s can relate. Know that they aren’t the only ones questioning what they want out of their work/life/family balance. I know I am not the only one who has questioned their pre-baby self compared to their post-baby self in relation to work and career. And, if you are a stay at home mum just know you need that break that work once gave you too, so go for a walk, go for a drive, do the groceries by yourself and for goodness sake take your time!
As for me and my work, I will probably go back to what I was doing before I had my babies. After all, I do have a job lined up for after baby number three comes, and in the mean time, I will keep trying not to stress about what cannot be changed. Keep applying for whatever comes my way, and importantly and quite easily, enjoying these days that I am getting with my little ones while I wait.