I’ve just spent a weekend away for a friend’s hen party. We were in a party of 3 stay at home mums and one who works full time.
What struck me about our conversations at the weekend is that although all 3 stay at home mums are intelligent, skilled and have had good jobs in the past, our confidence about returning to work is rock bottom. Part of this is a lack of direction, having been out of the workplace for a while, what do we go back and do? Some of us are petrified about entering the world of work again and some don’t want to get caught up in demanding careers and feel guilty about neglecting the children.
For me work and career are a big part of both my identity and my self image. I think we all agreed that staying home full time is more demanding than any job. I love having some time away from the children, but for me work isn’t really about that. Work is partly about having some financial independence so that I don’t feel guilty if I get my hair done or buy some new clothes. Any job that I do has to be financially rewarding enough to pay for childcare for 2 children and leave a bit over. Mostly, work gives me a sense of purpose and achievement. In any job I do I need to feel that I am challenging and developing myself and ideally I’d really like to make a difference. Work gives me a different aspect to my identity, at work I’m not just mum but someone people listen to and look up to. I think I’m a better mum too when I work because I appreciate the children so much more and think about more than what I need to add to the shopping list.
I think there must be an abundance of mothers out there who have many talents but are drifting or working in jobs that undermine those talents.
Last week I went for a job interview for a full time job with some travelling and lots of responsibility. The job was very exciting but I began to think about working full time and the impact it would have on the children. I got a glimpse of what it might be like to be a full time working mum and the guilt about the lack of time you would be able to give your children. I didn’t get the job, which was probably for the best. I talked to another friend recently who has managed to hold on to a fulfilling career. She feels that she never completely succeeds at anything because she is spreading herself between wife, mother and business woman and each one suffers in some way.
Going back to work this time will be the beginning of a new chapter, as the children grow up and I can build a new side to my identity. As a qualified teacher I could easily drift back into a job in the classroom but somehow this doesn’t feel like moving forward. Maybe I should just take the easy option, earn a bit of money supply teaching and switch off to it at the end of the day. I’m hoping something more inspirational will strike me. If anyone is looking for someone who is passionate about early education, loves a challenge, writes, sings, can juggle a household of 3 kids and 2 dogs amongst many other talents give me a shout.