My career has always been really important to me – I’ve only ever worked in the violence against women & girls sector and it’s a real vocation. I’ve got two degrees, and I quickly progressed from frontline to policy, management and commissioning. I’ve always been proud of the difference I’ve made to thousands of lives, and the systemic changes I’ve been part of too. I love boring people at parties with what I do, and why I do it.
But then I became a mum… and things changed.
Our son, Nate, is nearly two. He was born very early, and with a serious heart defect so 75% of my maternity leave was taken up with hospitals & surgeries & doctors appointments. I suffered badly with post-natal depression and PTSD, and when I returned to work I had a full-on breakdown, and was then made redundant.
But now – I’m back working full time managing the National Stalking Helpline. Which I dearly love, except for these five things…
1. COMMUTING SUCKS
I live in Bexleyheath and work in central London – that means nearly 3 hours travelling a day. Sometimes this is fine – time to write blog posts (yay!), catch up on personal emails, or scroll mindlessly through Facebook.
But it means I get in half an hour before bedtime and I miss my boy a lot. And then there’s the season ticket 😳
2. OUR HOUSE IS A TRAIN WRECK
With two adults working full time, and one toddler full of beans, we’re already short on time for dusting. Add in that our house is a renovation in (very slow) process and the fact that we’d all rather play than hoover and you have a home which bumps along the bottom of “just clean enough”. We all have clean clothes and you won’t be poisoned eating from our kitchen, but just don’t look behind the TV, yeah?
3. PEOPLE SAY IT’S A TERRIBLE SHAME
Seriously. I’ve lost count of the number of people who do the sympathetic head tilt about me working. One friend’s Mum went so far as to say it was “such a terrible shame Ian [hubs] doesn’t earn enough for you to stay home”. I’m a big fan of people making their own choices, and my choice is to continue working in a field I’m passionate about, which helps people, and which I’m damn good at. There are vanishingly few part time positions at my level, and I don’t want to take a downwards step just because I’m a Mum. Plus, no one ever mentions that it’s a shame that Ian has to work.
Now I know sexism about parents is hugely ingrained, but it’s 2017. C’mon now. Nate has two, equal, parents. We both pull our weight inside and outside the home. Lay off the mummy guilt.
4. THE NICE LITTLE EXTRAS IN LIFE SOMETIMES FALL BY THE WAYSIDE
Once upon a time I used to make people birthday cards. Christmas was about handmade gin truffles and gifts wrapped in coordinating papers with ribbons & ruffles. Sometimes I even ironed. None of that happens anymore – a lot of bits & pieces get missed. I still haven’t altered those tops I bought months ago, there’s a small mountain of toys awaiting investigation as to whether they’re broken or just need new batteries, and I can’t remember the last time I painted my nails. I miss having the extra time for the extra stuff
5. THAT I DON’T ACTUALLY HATE IT, NOT REALLY
As a society, we love to moan about work – how busy we are, our awful bosses, that stinky person we always see in the print room – but actually, I don’t really hate it, and sometimes I feel like I have to whisper that. My job stretches my brain out, and every day I feel like I’m making a positive difference both in individual lives and in the systems and laws that will keep changes going in the future. I miss my baby a great deal, but I think I’m being a great role model for him in showing that women can work in fulfilling jobs and still read pirate stories (and do all the voices). Who knows, maybe if our circumstances change or he gets a sibling I’ll reconsider, but for now I get the best of both (hectic) worlds.
This blog is part of our ‘5 Things I Hate’ series.