Early this morning (waaay too early, Olly) I was flicking through emails on my phone. I am guilty of clogging up our email with loads of blogs that I have subscribed to. Marc can get a little tetchy about it! But I read this post, and it sent me spiralling all over the place.
I am currently a stay at home Mum, but I have worked full time and part time since having the children. I returned to full time work when Sam was two, and I worked part time (although it felt full time) when Alfie started full time education. I haven't worked since Olly was born, apart from a few cleaning stints as favours for my family.
I spiralled for many reasons. Some of them are not obviously connected, but they made sense to me. I felt the need to get it out of my head and down on paper, and seeing as this space has become a diary of sorts, it felt right to share this stuff here.
(Bear with me. I am processing on the page).
Where to start? Well I have written before about depression and how it has affected me and those around me over the years. I have also written about my total lack of a clue when it came to first time parenting. In truth I was bloody hopeless. And I was struggling with post natal depression. Looking back, it is obvious that the depression and those feelings of hopelessness were linked. I know that now. I have known for a long time. There is still residual guilt thought. I will always carry the small whisper that maybe I just wasn't good enough or maternal enough or strong enough or...
I jumped at a return to work when Sam was two. I believed it was for my own sanity. Sam was a 'difficult' baby. We all labelled him - me, Marc, Grandparents (except for my Mother In Law, and I'll can never thank her enough for that). And there was difficulties - he never slept. He walked and talked very early. I was proud of my clever son, but he scared me too. I felt ill-equipped to deal with it. Sometimes I just wanted to run away from him and his incessant demands to read books, sing songs and his constant questions. I dreaded the constant demands, because that's how I looked him - demanding. His incessant demands did my head in.
Paradoxically I also loved going out for walks with him. He could walk for miles with that boundless energy of his. He was wide eyed at the world, a sponge soaking up the wonder that was all around him. I was able to share a love of the natural world with him. We would stop and inspect things together.
But my overwhelming feeling was one of being trapped.
And if I'm brutally honest, I felt that I'd missed out. By having Samuel, I didn't have the careers that my friends seemed to be carving out for themselves. I didn't have the freedom that they did - I remained very close to all my Uni friends. They were busy going skiing together, weekending together. They were child-free, dual incomes and having f.u.n. Marc and I were having none of it, plus we were exhausted and cross with each other all of the time. It was a bad time.
I ran away from it all when I started full time work. It was a low paid job in the dubious world of the emerging slip and trip culture. Claims Direct employed me as a claims adviser. I was secretly ill at ease with the ethics of the job, but buried it for the perceived freedom it gave me from my life at home. I paid someone else to look after Sam, while I processed paperwork, smoked endless cigarettes and quietly kidded myself that I was enjoying it all.
I left that job, and started work for a community partnership. I enjoyed this more at first. It felt meaningful, although I ended up suspecting that there were winners and losers here too. The losers were more often than not the community the partnership had been set up to help.
I think what I'm trying to get across is that my motivation to return to work were not financial (although it was a bonus). It was born out of the necessity to run away from the responsibility of Motherhood. And to be honest, I have struggled on and off with this role. Three children on, and I have days where I long for an adult conversation. Or I have an urge to run away. The depression rears it's head, and that clouds my judgement too.
I have felt well for several months now. I attribute this to Marc and the boys (ironically they are my sanctuary, which seems odd after the words I have written. I never set out to make any sense), my garden, the beautiful place in which I live, the free 15 hours of nursery that the UK government gives me, a more mindful way of living, this blog, making new friends (and I include blog chums here too) and most importantly being honest with myself.
I am not always a nice person. I am often a horrible person. I still struggle with feeling overwhelmed with my parenting role. It find it really, really hard sometimes. I hear myself trying to get across these feelings and they come out as a great big self-indulgent whinge. Sometimes I just need to man up and stop being so bloody pathetic! Sometimes I can't help but give into the weak inner me, and cry for help. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I try and hide.
So I am now at another point in my life my life where I am wondering about a return to work. Marc and I have a dream that involves setting up our own business. It involves tourism, cabins, yurts, animals and lots of plants and vegetables. It's not a pipe dream, but it is just out of reach for the moment. In the meantime I have been pondering a couple of things:
A stall at a Farmer's Market. Selling stuff from my front door - eggs, flowers, plants, veg. A return to counselling, (which I am still passionate about, but there's a whole other story there.....). Blagging a job in one of the local businesses in St Ives.
I find myself feeling very differently about work and children than I did all those years ago. I don't want my boys to come home to an empty house. I don't want Olly in full time child care. I want to do a little, and be at home. I want to have my cake and eat it too!!
Is it possible? Has anyone else achieved this state of balance and harmony?
Today I am fetching and carrying. I am walking beaches and pottering in the garden. I am trying to ignore the total state of my half term house. I am promising myself that I will finish painting the bloody playroom/conservatory. I am hanging out and relaxing. I am planning the weekend. I am mindful of how lucky I really am. I am day dreaming and wafting and wishing on a star.