Years ago I heard the saying, ‘With brave wings she flies’ and have since quoted it to friends and colleagues. But today, as I enter the new world of being a stay-at-home mum, I say it to myself.
Redundancy during my maternity leave has made me an accidental stay-at-home mum. Having followed the traditional; school, uni, career, marriage, baby route, it’s actually quite liberating to go off-piste. To deviate from the expected and potentially change the course of my life.
But let’s just say this isn’t my natural habitat. Before my son, I’d never even changed a nappy. Motherhood has turned my neat and tidy world into chaos and I spend much of the time lurching between pure adoration and complete terror.
The sense of responsibility is sometimes stifling, but it’s far outweighed by the thrill of seeing my little human grow and develop. Being a mum has taken me so far from my comfort zone, it’s a distant memory. Every day is a new adventure, sometimes wonderful and sometimes a little bit shit. Full-time child-care certainly isn’t the coffee-drinking, marathon TV-watching utopia that some assume it is.
I’m a marketing and PR girl at heart, you see. My working life as a ‘Marketing Maven’ as an old CEO used to say, was eclectic, inspiring and on occasion, a little bit glamorous. I travelled all over Europe and loved the camaraderie, the in jokes and most importantly, choosing from the stationery catalogue each week! However, I worked long hours, rarely switched off and fiercely felt the pressure to produce high quality work and be a good boss.
I always knew that having children would change the dynamic of my working life. Irregular hours, last-minute travel plans, away on photo-shoots for weeks at a time, just wouldn’t be possible with young children. Or at least, it could be possible, but I doubted I’d be able to commit 100 percent and that was always a sticking point for me.
So when a call came to say my whole department was being moved to another country and I was ‘at risk of redundancy’, I actually felt quite relieved. It was just one week before we needed to confirm Tutti’s nursery place. I’d put off contacting the nursery, as like many parents, I was struggling with the thought of leaving him.
The call put me in alien territory. I’d always been a career girl, working my way up and finishing with my own team and a not-too-shabby office. Was I actually going to give that up and stay at home? Did I feel that strongly about the early years of my little human’s life?
Well, I’m a big believer in fate. As I absorbed the redundancy news, my mind flitted between:
‘Can we manage financially?’
‘Will I cope mentally?’
and ‘Am I ready to put my career on hold?’.
I know millions of mothers go out to work every day, either through choice or necessity and I always thought I’d be the same. But as this plot twist unfolded, my gut told me to go with it. Take the redundancy as a sign, lift my foot off the accelerator, give 100 percent to my first born.
So after a few tears, a mental pros and cons list and a thorough discussion with the Hubster, to make sure staying at home worked for all of us, I did it. I put away my tailored jackets, jersey wrap dresses and those kinky heels and gave back my company laptop, mobile and credit card. I was officially a stay-at-home mum.
I know how lucky I am to have this opportunity. I also know I’ve never been so emotionally battered or physically bruised, as I have since my little prince arrived.
So you know what? I feel a bit brave.
I know in today’s society, staying at home is considered by some as not ‘striving to have it all’. This same fickle society is also too quick to admonish working mums or heaven forbid, a stay at home dad….
The fact is, we don’t need to justify our choices to anyone. We are all doing our best. We are all brave.
So, four months post-redundancy I ponder:
‘Did I plan this?’ No.
‘Am I working harder than I ever have?’ Yes.
‘Am I happy?’ Absolutely (for now)!