I’ve been lucky enough to pick up a bit of freelance work lately and I’ve been loving it. It’s definitely good to give the brain a bit of a workout every now and then, and mine has certainly needed it after 18 months at home with my “baby”. I’ve honestly felt more productive around the home and happier since I’ve been doing a little something for myself – it’s also opened up a whole range of creative possibilities and ideas as I realise, “Hey, I can do this!”.
Up until now I’ve just been fitting things in around the kids schedules and sitting them in front of the TV for an hour here and there, but now that I have a slightly bigger project to work on and am trying to get my website up and running, I realised that wasn’t going to cut it. So yesterday I left Walter at home with the babysitter and instructions to collect Heike off the bus at 12, and went down to work in my “office” for the day – my local Starbucks.
It was nice having an uninterrupted block of time and I did achieve quite a bit. But honestly, I struggled. Like, I reeeeeally struggled. I haven’t left both my kids for the day, except with their Dad or grandparents, ever. I’ve never not picked Heike up from school/the bus, since she started last September. At one point I realised it was lunch time and wondered what they were doing and I felt physically sick.
I know I’m really lucky because a) I really don’t HAVE to leave them if I don’t want to and, b) I live in the time of mobile technology where I can get constant updates and pictures and call them as often as I like. I was thinking yesterday what it would have been like for Mums of my mother’s generation, having to leave kids with family, friends and neighbours or even to let themselves in from a very young age, all the while dependent on the office landline phone that they likely would have been frowned upon for using. It would have been hard. It’s still hard.
So many of my Mum friends from Sydney work full time, for a number of reasons. Many of them are smart, independent women who simply don’t feel a sense of identity without work. Some feel they need to maintain their career for when the kids grow up and have no other choice. Others do it for financial necessity. I’m in awe of all of them – I barely manage to get clothes on for the school run, let alone two kids and myself dressed and presentable for a day at the office.
But the hardest thing for me, as I know it is for them, is the guilt that goes along with it. The feeling that you are missing out. I’ve been a full time Mum for a long time, and yesterday, honestly, I did feel like I was missing out. I hated it.
I don’t really have the answer but I guess you just have to choose your choice. You have to decide what you want, as a parent and an individual, or what’s best or what’s needed, and just be okay with it. I don’t know yet if I can up my workload – whether it’s time, whether I’m ready, whether they’re ready. Being at home when my kids get home from school is really, really important to me. So I think I’m going to have to learn to be okay with that – to work from home, to work at night, to do what it takes for that to happen. Because look what I’d be missing!