Can you have it all?

I recently read a really fab blog post about encouraging more comments and debate on your site (if that was you please let me know and I’ll link, but I’ve forgotten where I read it!). I hope this will be the post that does this. I have been wanting to write this post for a while. I am going to say the things the things you’re not meant to say, I am going to have an opinion. I am going to just tell it how it is…

I have recently been spending a lot of time wondering ‘can you have it all?’ When I became a mum, right from the moment I looked into his eyes instantly I knew from then on nothing would be more important to me than him. He is the centre of everything, I cannot and will never be able to explain the love I feel for him. I enjoyed my maternity leave immensly and as you may recall from my early entries (thanks for sticking with me if you can!), I embraced it whole heartedly. Buggy fit, playgroup, soft play, netmums, breastfeeding, I did it all, and I loved spending every moment sussing out my new little dude as well as also getting to know the new me, the ‘mummy me’. But as I resurfaced from the intense baby bubble that accompanies having a new born, I felt a pull to the wider world. I am young, I am ambitious and I am incredibly lucky to have a job that I feel passionate about. At around 5 months, I felt the flutter of wanting to get back into the game.

At around this time we also took a massive lifestyle upgrade moving into a new area and a bigger place (not that I’ve mentioned that before hey?!) it’s a pricer new lifestyle that needed funding so I eased myself back into work taking advantage of the fact that I can freelance in my job and embracing a few new opportunities. As time went on it was time to commit to working life, get into a routine and make a firm decision. Rather than taking the rather tempting option of returning to my lovely job part time, I decided to put an additional layer of pressure on myself, take a risk at a temperamental time, and work for myself. God it’s a pain being me sometimes! 

But the goal was to keep the ball in my court and have as much flexibility as I could hold on to. At times I feel like I’ve really cracked the balance, and in these moments it feels fab. But here’s the thing…Every day I carry around an extra handbag; a metaphorical one that is. It’s a handbag that’s full of guilt, shame and anxiety. I feel guilty that I’m not at home with my little boy. I feel shame because I’m as ambitious, if not more, than I ever was before I became a mummy. And I worry. I worry all the time that I’ll miss something, or that something will happen and I won’t be there. And that is one bloody heavy handbag to be carrying around every day. Especially for a woman who insists on taking a full sized can of hairspray with her everywhere she goes – Emma, it’s 2011, there’s a reason travel size exists!

I have been ashamed to voice that I don’t think I would want to be a full time mummy. And it is here that I get to the main point of this blog (sorry it took while, I have had a glass of wine, bear with me just a little longer. And then comment! For the love of god please comment!). When you come out with statements like the above or act in any way positively and enthusiastically to having a career, it is interpreted in a number of ways – either you don’t want to spend time with your children, you want to ‘get away from them’ or, and I feel sick even writing this, that you ‘don’t care’ as much as stay at home mums. This is so far from the truth. I adore my days with Phoenix. From Friday to Monday night I am mummy 101, we go swimming, I chase him up and down the hall way until I have carpet burns on my knees (yes that is how I get them!) we go out, we make friends, we go to playgroup, I cuddle up and nap with him (any excuse) and for these four days I completely indulge in being Phoenix’s mummy. Going to work switches the focus, it reminds me that I have another side to me, it makes me look forward to getting back to being with Phoenix, it gives me confidence, and yes, shoot me down and tie me up with my non existent apron strings, I do enjoy it.

Sooooooo I’m putting it out there… I’m saying it’s ok. It’s ok, if you want to stay at home full time with your little ones; it’s a brave and admirable move. It’s ok if you want to go back to work; it’s a brave and admirable move. It’s ok to just to what feels right for you. It’s a tough decision and when you make it it’s an even tougher transition whichever direction you decide to take. Take your time, talk to as many people as you can, explore every available option and do what’s right for you and your family.

By setting up this blog and interacting with other mummies on Twitter I have been inspired by discovering so many ‘mumtrepreneurs’. Women who have pursued new career directions, working for themselves, and who have turned their new mummy status into a strength in their career, rather than a hindrance. I salute these women, I bloody love these women.

And breathe. It’s out, I’ve written it. Please comment, I would love to get some chatter going on this subject. I was going to open this post referencing that hideous woman Kate from the Apprentice who made some ridiculous comments recently in the press about stay at home mums. But I decided I’d just be selfish and write my own post instead. The less attention that insect gets the better; it’s people like her making comments like that that make all these kinds of decisions even harder. Silly cow. And yes I have just ended this epic post by an immature muttering of calling someone a silly cow. See I told you I was a professional! 

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14 thoughts on “Can you have it all?

  1. Rachel says:

    Well, it sounds to me like you have the best of both worlds, doing a job you are passionate about is a very lucky place to be, and spending quality time with Phoenix.

    I chose to take redundancy and stay at home with my son. My situation is different though as my son has special needs. There was not really a choice to make, a no brainer! I was also not in a job I was passionate about either.

  2. Pops says:

    Love this post.
    In my experience, part time working mums seem to appreciate & relish the time they do spend with their babies so much more, so in a way it’s quality not quantity. But that doesn’t mean full time mums don’t appreciate & relish it too! Its different for everyone.

  3. MrsPKing says:

    As i have just started maternity leave, well a week ago, and im due tomorrow i found this post really fasinating. I absolutly adore my job (some call me stupid :)) and found it really difficult to go on maternity leave, it got to the point where my boss actually had to say that i couldnt come in any more as i looked exhausted (thanks) but i am in a position where i can take my baby to work with me (i am a nursery nurse) but even though i am able to do this, is it right to go back to work to look after other peoples children while another member of staff looks after mine? This is a question ive been asking myself since deciding how long to take for maternity leave. (im still undecided) and im sure once baby is here my feelings may change, but honestly im not sure it will. I would be going to work full time due to finances but am i going to be labelled as a bad mum because i dont spend every second of every day with my child? hmmmm.

    • This will be very interesting to see how you feel when baby is here Amy! Keep me posted! I wonder who these people actually are when we all say ‘people will think I’m a bad mum’ – they are like an invsible force of judges! I saw screw them all. Good luck with the birth and thanks for commenting x

  4. Denise Brinicombe says:

    I think at the end of the day we do appreciate our children more and they get more from us if we have time to be ” ourselves” in a job we love doing. Don’t feel guilty they are the ones who gain at the end of the day!!! I think being with them all the time can become a little uninspiring on the bad days and yes a little monotonous!!!

  5. I think the hardest thing to do when deciding whether to stay at home or work is to be able to listen to yourself about what is right for you and to tune out the other noises and opinions – there’s an awful lot of opinion out there and it can blur the issues

    Its also to be aware that what you what and what your family needs can change – after 1 baby it was easy and great to return to work, after the 2nd it became different, harder and the balance moved out of alignment

  6. mum says:

    Your mission to motherhood will never be over, but there does come a time when you will think its almost complete! That’s the point I’m at when I read your blogs – I’m so proud of you, wife, mum, business woman – you’re a natural at all of them!
    Drop the handbag Em – it will drag you down along with your giant tin of hairspray! (you are definitely your mother’s daughter in this respect!)
    P is surrounded with loving care when you’re not there – you have made sure of that & you’re never that far away – wait til he goes travelling or lives in Oz!
    He is such a happy little boy – all credit to you & Ben.
    You know I am passionate about my job too & I worked part time when you were little – it is the best of both worlds!
    Obviously I am biased but you & Adam have turned out more than ok & because of that I would now like to officially claim a tiny bit of credit!! x

  7. Kirsty says:

    I hadn’t realized how miserable I was at home until I went back to work. I love my boy, and enjoy spending time with him, but I need something of the old me too. I don’t feel guilty for leaving him. Sometimes I’m confused as to why I don’t, but I think time out makes me a better mum when I’m with him.
    I love my job and I’m good at it. I couldn’t be me without it. If that’s sad and pathetic then so be it!

  8. Denise Brinicombe says:

    Well said that sums it up really well. At the end of the day parents need to be happy as well to be able parent well. We should’t feel guilty because we end up with happier and well adjusted children at the end of the day.
    My Mum made me feel very guilty. She married at age 18 had 3 children under five by age 24 and has never worked since she married .
    She found it hard to understand but after a long time realised I was happier and my children suffered no Ill affects despite my son having a high functioning autisim. At the end of the days it was the school attitude to his problems that let him down!!! His childminders had known him since very young and knew how to deal with him

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