A Fine Balance
Before I had my first child I was a talent agent, throwing myself wholeheartedly into my job. Running around London to meetings, going on shoots and networking at nights. I absolutely loved my job and loved the stimulation it gave me - brainstorming with clients and helping them go on their journey to success. And then I found out I was pregnant and I entered into the world of legalities with Mat leave and how long you get off paid and unpaid, and how and when to approach returning back to work.
Before I popped with my son I couldn’t have dreamt of not checking my work emails daily, let alone having months away from the office. I genuinely thought I would be back at my desk after 6 months. But then this little guy was handed to me and my world seismically shifted in that instance. He needed me and I really really needed him. I took the whole year off! I threw myself into motherhood and barely spent a moment apart from him. He saved me from the grief of losing my mother a few years earlier, and the time away from work allowed me to grow with him, heal and have the time out that I had probably needed for a while.
As my return to work loomed, the thought of leaving my baby filled me with fear, and so I tentatively entered into an agreement to return part time (Monday, Tuesday & Thursday). I luckily had a boss who really wanted to make my return to work work and helped me with flexible working hours. Many many women are not as lucky (check out @mother_pukka who is on a mission to change working conditions for working mums & join her on the 31st March for a flash dance to highlight this fight)! We changed my times in the day so as I could collect him in time from the childminder and so it begun. The balancing work/motherhood act.
The weeks would fly by. The days I worked would be mental, dropping my son off at 8am on the dot so as I could be at my desk by 9am. And then I would have to leave the office at 5pm on the dot so as not to incur the £1 per minute charge for collecting your child after 6pm. I was a headless chicken those days but a very happy one. Being back at work gave me my confidence back and a passion aside from the wonders of motherhood.
And it genuinely made me a better Mother on Wednesdays and Fridays. I was refreshed and patient - i would devour him on those days. But switching off on those days from my job became very difficult. I would check emails constantly and juggle phone calls whilst dealing with a demanding toddler. And this is part of the part time guilt i think that lots of mothers experience. Having boundaries to keep work to the agreed days and being ok with that. Not feeling that you have to give more the whole time for fear of not being good enough.
And then there is the mum guilt. My son loved his childminder and would have the most amazing days in her incredible care but he simply did not like drop off. There would be many a day with him screaming, arms out stretched for me. My heart would break as I walked away. A few minutes later I would receive a picture of him playing happily and this would help with the guilt a little but I can still feel the sinking feeling in my stomach when I remember his little face as I would leave him.
So what on earth do I do now with another child thrown into the mix to juggle? I knew very quickly that going back to be a talent agent with two small children would not be possible - two drop offs and pick ups, and double the childcare costs. Perhaps it is something I will return to when the kids are older. Blogging allows me the freedom to work around my children, ignite my brain again which quite literally turned to mush after baby number 2, and also is pretty cathartic too. The thought that my son starts school in September and therefore will have a substantial amount of time off school, plus the school pickups being earlier fills me with dread. How do mothers that work do this? Is an after school nanny, and holiday nanny the only way? These are the murkiest of waters to navigate.
However my Mum always stressed to me how important it was to have something for yourself on top of being a Mummy, as kids do eventually fly the coop and it’s important to have something to keep you busy once they do. So I strive to find this balance between a working life and being the Mummy I want to be. I salute all you Mummies whether you are working full time at home, full time at an office or some headless chicken like me in between. My hat comes off to each and every one of you!
Carly Moosah is a blogger and mum of two. Check out her blog here: https://www.keepemquiet.com/blogs/news