Ah maternity leave, what a total dream of life revolving entirely around one perfect little person. I spent her every waking moment interacting and tending to her every need. Then towards the end of this wonderful period I made the truly agonising decision to leave my job and become a full time mother. The wording I’ve chosen might sound melodramatic but for me it really was heart wrenchingly, sucker-punchingly difficult. I felt torn to the core between a job I adored in a great position, with amazing clients and incredible colleagues…and my child. Only problem was, the job was at least a 1.5hr drive away when my husband was already commuting a ridiculous distance and thus leaving before we woke up and getting home well after the baby had gone to bed. I just didn’t think it was fair for my child not to see either parent during the week, so my decision was made.
Fast forward a few months and a major “what is my place in society/I have no status in the world anymore/I’m just a mother” crisis episode set in. I thought people no longer asked me what I did with interest in their eyes, I felt utterly downtrodden and bereft at my new role and felt that all I did was give give give to my baby and husband with nothing in return (don’t judge, I was having a great big pity party). Thankfully I am married to a totally incredible man who rather than berating me for making this decision and giving me ‘this is your bed, now you have to lie in it’ speeches he asked me what we could do to make it better. I wanted to have the drive and ambition that a job gave me but wanted it to be flexible enough for me to be able to look after the baby.
Aha! I’ll utilise my existing skill set and set up my own business! Problem solved. Happy Mummy/wife again.
So my little business became reality with just enough clients to keep me ticking over but still dedicate enough time to raising my child.
Then baby number two arrived.
Now, a fundamental of running your own business when you’re a workforce of one is that you have to actually run a business. That means no maternity leave! The phone is always on and emails are always answered.
Yep, here I am, five days after giving birth, answering emails, putting strategies together…and pumping. This isn’t me trying to be super Mum, this is just the reality of self employment, me desperately trying to maintain some kind of control over everything and not let my clients down. (My husband thought this was a particularly comical sight.)
And this is where the guilt crept in and I felt unbelievably torn again. When my daughter was born she was my sole focus, my entirety, my world. Since Felix arrived any Poppy-free time has been dedicated to work. The little chap plays next to me on a play matt but I’m not cooing over him and rattling toys, I’m answering emails and putting content together. When he wakes from his naps I pray that he’ll wait just ten minutes more in his cot so that I can get an email finished and when people comment on how nice it must be to have Felix and Mummy time the guilt pangs are too much to handle.
The thing is, I really do want to look after him and be around both of my children as they grow, I don’t want to miss out on anything and I adore being a parent. But I also want to have my business, having something that is entirely my own is an amazing feeling and I’m actually good at it! So giving up on either doesn’t feel like the right solution.
So where do we go from here? Is there a perfect solution? How does everybody else seem to be doing it and so successfully? Is there a secret ingredient that I’m missing?
Or is having it all simply not possible?
My current temporary solution is to use my evenings to keep up to date with work and try to dedicate quality time to Felix when he’s awake. Not ideal as that means no quality husband time but a solution of sorts. Sigh.
I can completely relate to how you feel in this post. I have a business of my own and thought I could easily juggle motherhood and my career but the reality has been far from easy! And now I am expecting baby no2 so it looks like things are going to become even harder! I have no real help with childcare aside my OH therefore work passes me by a lot which is heartbreaking but of course babies come first in all things. I hit the same balance as you at the moment, working at night times, when OH is home and during nap times too. On the days it all seems to be to much and going a bit wrong I just tell myself that it is possible to have it all, just not always at once. And I prioritise. One can always come back to work and find new opportunities… but witnessing magic moments with your kids are a one time opportunity that can’t and shouldn’t be missed. It’s lovely to know I’m not alone in my juggling task! #twinklytuesday
You are so so right, it’s so hard to get caught up in focusing on having it all and let the most important things pass us by. I keep trying to remind myself of this. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job and are far more aware of it than I was going into having baby number two so I think you’ll do amazingly well. Hope everything goes well with the baby xxx
I totally relate with your story Frances: when I found out I was pregnant I gave up my job. When my daughter was just over a year old I decided to go back to school and studied Naturopathy – the perfect solution in my mind: self-employed, control over my schedule and the number of hours I wanted to put in. However, I have come to the conclusion that until my daughter (and any other child that might come along) is shut away in school for the day, I just will not be able to truly have a job. I guess this is what keeps me going and makes it so enjoyable, knowing that the full-time mum thing is for a given time and therfore I might as well make the most of it!
Good luck with everything!
It’s really comforting to hear that I’m not alone in my struggle. Maybe I need to have a think about the amount of work I take on and limit it so that I can keep it going until at least one is at school. So hard when society makes us think that we should be doing everything. Thank you for sharing, your comment has been so helpful! xx
Sending positive thoughts your way. Owning your own business is not easy! And neither is raising two children! You have a lot on your plate. It’s wonderful that you have such a supportive hubby! 🙂
I don’t know if there is an answer in all honesty. I’ve tried and failed. If you do find that perfect solution, be sure to share it with us!! #bestandworst
You do really well. I don’t work from home but want my blog to keep going and find I can only really do a bit in evenings if I want to spend time with my new daughter. Don’t forget to be a good Mum, you need to be a happy Mum and that means having your business. And soon Felix will get moving and that choice may be taken away! hehe. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst
Well done on changing things around and setting up your own business. That really is fantastic. It’s so tricky to find a balance, I mean… your picture says it all really. I hope you are able to work things out and get a balance that you are happy with. Thank you for sharing with the #dreamteam x