I’ve been a working mother since I tapped out a few work emails from the hospital bed I occupied for the 8 days following the birth of my daughter. Of course I’ll forgive you for thinking that I’m a workaholic, but I enjoy what I do and there was no reason not to answer a few queries. The Royal Sussex is far from a hotel where one relaxes and quite frankly I was relieved for a momentary distraction from the events that had unfolded for my family and me. More on that later…
I’m pretty lucky; I work with my composer husband and film editor business partner. The projects we are involved in are often interesting, creative and flexible, so we all bend with the changes in our lives, we like it like that. Conversely the work can be sporadic and not always the most lucrative meaning we’re not exactly rolling in it. So why don’t I get a ‘regular’ job? Guaranteed paid employment with a company where I can leave my work at the office…hmmm…? I ask myself this when we feel like we are struggling, which in recent times has been more often than not.
I suppose it somewhat depends on what you are looking to get from your work. Is it money and status, a feeling of value and self worth, excitement and thrills, or maybe learning and fulfilment? We all like to think we get at least one of the pairings, but I opted for freedom and choice too, which doesn’t tally easily with earning bundles of cash it seems. And regardless of my politics I’d quite like bundles of cash to ease the journey for my daughter, whose entrance to the world was fraught with difficulties that might affect the rest of her life.
Before she came along I had already begun treading a new path of learning that will see me qualified in the next few years as a psychotherapist. As well as being a calling of sorts, the decision to re-train was made in an effort to ensure a better quality of life for us all as she grew, a hope for more of the couplings, including the potential of, maybe not bundles, but at least a few more beans in the bank.
But her arrival threw us into a wilderness of uncertainty when we were told our new-born would likely have some development challenges from a birth injury. I put my training on hold to recover from the trauma of the birth, and shock of the prognosis, and to devote my time and energy to her needs for the immediate future, at least until we knew how she was fairing. I’m planning to head back to college in September, but my deferment has meant a 2 year delay to my journey.
There are days when I wonder if my decisions are the right ones. And every mother I speak with struggles over her choices in some shape or form when we discuss our careers, jobs, and work. We want to do the best for our children; we want them to have more than we did, whether that is time and attention from both parents, new clothes instead of hand-me-downs or perhaps piano lessons, family holidays and a more liberal education. But it’s often too easy to forget our own needs in the pursuit of happiness for our offspring.
The art of balancing work and children is a ubiquitous subject on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, but aren’t all mother’s working? Motherhood certainly ties up a few of those pairings though I’m not suggesting that taking care of my daughter is a job that anyone can do, or that it’s a chore, but caring for others so often means less caring for the self, and that value of self can sometimes be found in our work.oth parents, new clothes instead of hand-me-downs or perhaps piano lessons, family holidays and a more liberal education. But it’s often too easy to forget our own needs in the pursuit of happiness for our offspring.
So I squeeze bits of work in where I can, be it in between baby yoga and Gymboree, changing nappies and bath-times. Doing so allows me to enjoy all aspects of my life so I’m not resentful in the future, or feeling that I’m missing out on those beautiful moments of firsts. And on the odd occasion my daughter comes to a meeting with me. Get her started early I say; least I’m not sending her down the mines!