Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Real World

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.

Still here?

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.

Leanne xx


  1. Firstly, thank you for sharing this. I think it's very important. And huge hugs to you from me. I understand how you feel. I haven't worked since becoming a mother and I don't expect to work for many years to come, but I sometimes feel very beaten down by my role as a mother. It's just hard. I have no good advice, but I like that you are mulling all of this over. I am sure you will find your way.

  2. Thanks for sharing all this. I am tentatively thinking about returning to work sometime soon and I have very mixed feelings about it all. We all just have to try and do what's best for us, our families, our lives. Your family sounds wonderfully loving and supportive so I'm sure you'll figure out the right thing to do. x

  3. I have been thinking about your post all day. Maybe there are no answers but I send you the gentlest hug xx

  4. Oh Leanne, how did I miss this Post! Thanks for sharing - I know it can be scary putting it all out there! As for the balance thing, so hard! I want to have my cake and eat it too. I've never been able to achieve a work/family balance so decided to just focus on one thing at a time - that being the Kids now. Some people do manage both really well but I just wasn't one of them! I had a career before kids but as soon as they came along I realised I wanted to be with them so I've stayed at home with them and it's coming up to 9 years. I do miss work. I'm hoping our plans for the farm will tie in nicely with the kids being at school and being able to work around them. Yes, we do have very similar ideas on the horizon for! Looking forward to seeing how things pan out for you and your family. Mel xxx