First and foremost I would like to say hurrah for journalist Kate Wills. I had been planning to write this post for most of last week, but whilst I enjoyed a quick dip in the bath and a squizz over Grazia I stumbled across her article on feminism and, after a long day suffering with a stinky cold, I suddenly felt much better. As for once, the piece didn’t make me want to hide under my daughter’s Frozen duvet in shame. Instead it said something different. That women who make a decision to leave the workplace aren’t necessarily going against their feminist principles. That there is room for everyone, not just those ladies who decide to keep on working.
A bit of back history: my dad kindly buggered off when I was seven years old and left my mum, me and my two brothers behind. There followed a turbulent few years, but the one important life lesson that I remember my mum drilling into me as a consequence was to always be financially independent. This shaped a serious work ethic, to the point I remember scoffing when a boyfriend muted the idea of marriage and babies. “No way!” was my first thought. There was an exciting career ahead of me and marriage and babies would fail to feature until I was in well into my thirties. But I did always want a family. So when, in my late twenties, my career in PR became all consuming, and I found myself daydreaming of a life no longer dominated by media campaigns and DVDs, I pushed for the marriage and babies I had once avoided. Of course, meeting the right man sealed the deal, but I was dog tired and determined to have a different focus in life.
Fast forward a few years and here I am as a stay-at-home mum to my two beautiful babies, and totally financially dependent on my husband. Despite knowing deep down that under our unusual circumstances, being at home with our kids is currently the best decision for us as a family, it still sits uncomfortably with me personally. To the point that when a recent blog post on The Pool did the rounds titled, “Working mothers make great mums” I deliberately avoided reading it. Freelancing when leaving my latest position meant there was no job to go back to, and as my husband’s hours can be so crazy during the summer, it simply made sense to stick it out at home until the babies were old enough to go to school. Whilst I LOVE, love, love my kids, the daily doldrums of bringing up a toddler and a baby just don’t provide the same sense of job satisfaction that my job in PR previously did and I miss it. The job itself and everything else that goes along with it, the freedom, the independence, the social life and most of all being able to pee on my own without the toddler barging in shouting “I need a poooooo!”.
A fair few of my friends have questioned why I don’t just jump back into work and there are two reasons. Firstly, we are in the very lucky position of being able to afford to live on one salary, so I feel like I should make the most of the opportunity of staying at home whilst the kids are young. But secondly, and really the biggest reason of all, is because I have lost my confidence. In the PR business, keeping your toe in matters, and I have been out of the game so long I’m just not confident I would be able to find a new position that would justify the cost of childcare, and all the other complications it would bring, especially during the summer months.
But not all hope is lost. I have a big ambition, which I hope is being kicked off with this very blog. I dream that one day, with practice, I will be paid for my writing (even if it is just pocket change) and I can say once again that I make my own money. But this time I will be doing something I really love and that fits around my family (fingers crossed!). I was also excited when I recently came across Digital Mums, a fantastic organisation dedicated to providing online training and flexible jobs for mums just like me. Something that is very appealing. But in the meantime I will wear my stay-at-home mum badge with pride and know that I haven’t given up my career or my feminist principles, they’re right there, just in slightly different form.