When I was growing up my mum always worked full time. As a GP (doctor) running her own practice, she would often leave for work before we went to school and get home just in time for dinner. She was super busy and often stressed but somehow she always found the time to help us with our homework or take us to our dance lessons on the weekend. Parenting three daughters and building a successful career must have been exhausting, but mum made it seem like the norm.
I gave up the idea of following in her (always stylish) footsteps when I realised that I was actually really squeamish and the sight of blood had me heading for the floor. But I never gave up the idea that I would also have both a family AND a wonderful career. I still think it is possible, I’m just not sure that it’s what I want. I don’t mean this to diminish what my mum did. Not at all. She did an amazing job and we always knew she loved us, absolutely. But I’m not her. And I need to find what works for me and my family. I don’t think it’s working the million hours that a stellar career requires. But I also don’t think it’s being a full-time, twenty-four-seven mum. It’s somewhere in the grey between.
Since we sold our business almost twelve months ago I’ve experienced the joy, the exhaustion and the intermittent boredom that comes with full-time motherhood. I’ve watched not one minute of daytime TV and have not found any extra hours in the day to learn how to knit. The monster keeps me busy but to be honest we don’t exactly operate at breakneck speed. I could do more housework but I prefer to play tickle-wrestle and make ridiculous animal noises while the monster rolls around in stitch-inducing hysterics (unfortunately he might be the only person who enjoys my humor). Some days are just so full of fun and love that being the monsters mum is just about the best job in the world. Some days I’m ready to hand in my resignation by morning tea break as I cry in to my coffee.
Despite the challenges, I’ve cherished this time at home with the monster watching him grow from a wobbly infant to a rambunctious toddler. But I think I’m ready now to find that shade of grey that works for us. It probably won’t be prestigious or note-worthy but I’ll be happy if I find a job that lets me be me rather than mum and stretches the non-baby related brain muscles, if only for two days a week. I know at some time in the future I may lament the aspirational career I never sought but that’s real-world, grown-up life isn’t it? We have to accept that every choice has a trade-off and despite what Hollywood would have us think there is no such thing as having it all. My mum made the choice that was best for her and her family and I’m doing the same. Our paths may be different. But with time I’m learning that that’s okay.