Its not that I ever wanted to be famous, I didn't. Growing up I had two ambitions 1) to be a mother and 2) a successful writer/artist. I toyed with the idea of writing under a pseudonym when I was in my teens in case I made it, so people wouldn't recognise me in the supermarket while buying Tampax or something. But It was all planned out- country living, raising my children alongside chickens and sheep in a little cottage where I would write and stare at the scenery. It was never about being 'big'.
After my children arrived I noticed things changing. At first visits were all about cooing over my newborn, questions about labour and how it felt to be a mother. I was still very much in the new baby haze when I first had the question poised to me,
'when are you going back to work?'
Work. It almost felt like a dirty word to me. A taboo subject. I think deep down when I began my maternity leave there had very little intention of going back to work. It was not a subject I wanted to think about holding my beautiful eight week old in my arms, wishing time would slow down.
A return to that work was something that happened only very briefly, following that my focus was on childminding so I could afford to stay at home with my baby, and then further time off to have my second child. In that space of time more questions came that started to grate.
'What do you do?'
'So you are just a stay at home mum?'
In fact half the time I would say it myself,
'I am currently just a stay at home mum.'
Notice the just. Sixty years ago or so it was almost expected of women to stay at home with their children. The men went out to work, the women stayed at home with the kids. Of course I am elated and proud of how far we have come over the last century to a point where women can do what they want. But why is it that we often feel ashamed to want to be a stay at home mum? In all my years of work being a stay at home mum is by far the hardest job. You are never allowed to switch off, you don't get a quiet lunch break, hell, you don't even get a quiet toilet break. I should not feel like a cop out for wanting to stay at home to raise my kids, but strangely I do.
I did not become career driven until after I had my children. At this point in life I can say my life ambitions came true- a lovely, happy life raising my two children in the country, doing some freelance writing and blogging. But suddenly it doesn't feel quite enough. I catch up with friends who have never had, or are yet to have kids. They talk, or Instagram, or tweet, about their glamorous career driven lifestyles and I feel inadequate. I don't believe it is their intention to make me feel inadequate, but something inbuilt. I am immensly satisfied by being a mother. My children fill me with so much joy what else am I looking for?
This week I have written two blogs for myself, and three articles for other people, completed two jewellery commissions, listed 3 new handmade items on my shop and am finishing off four illustrations I hope to enter into a competition. My children have been poorly and so all this has been done whilst they are sleeping, in between taking temperatures and administering calpol. On paper it reads as though I am kicking arse, in reality, money is tight, I'm being paid pretty minimally, I am exhausted and do not feel I am close to making it.
In a world that is non stop, where we can talk to each other 24/7 as long as there is wifi signal, where we fight for the rights to work wherever we want, and are forever angling for attention and the need to 'make it', can we ever just stop? I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I have met a lot of mums in the past year or two, following relocations and new schools. No one has ever introduced themselves as a stay at home mum, no matter how long they have been out of work, it is the job title that often defines who they are when forming an introduction.
Today I want to stop beating myself up about where I feel I should be, and stop worrying about what others think of me. I need to look myself in the mirror and say 'you are doing an amazing job.' Most of all I want to take my children in my arms, smell their beautiful heads, cuddle up under a blanket and read their favourite stories and enjoy being just mum, because, it really is my most favourite thing to be.