Two months ago I read an article in the Sunday Times magazine about mums returning to work after a prolonged period of being at home. At that point I gleefully declared I was going to do a 12 part monthly series tracking my progress as one such returning mum to help inspire others and I wanted this to feature on my work website. After all I couldn’t believe how much my confidence had grown in my first year and how many opportunities there are for mums to work flexibly if you know the right people to talk to. I was on the cusp of creating a great business and of having the right balance – I knew I had hurdles to overcome but felt on my way to being one of those indomitable supermums.
So why is it yesterday I took steps to scale back my working hours to 10-12 hours a week and put the brakes on my efforts to generate new clients to grow my own business?
I have made this decision knowing that I put Dan under more pressure when he enjoys (and perhaps even needs) the reassurance my return to work has provided. I also know that reducing my income denies the girls and us certain freedoms and goodness knows, I don’t have the best record when it comes to living within my means.
Yet lately, I have almost been disabled by not being at home more. My heart has been racing, I have been breathless at times and constantly on the verge of tears. The balance has been off. Things at home have just not felt right. And weirdly, it’s not about spending more time with the girls – the oldest two are now at school and the youngest in preschool 3 days a week. It really is just about being at home and being a homemaker. Though admittedly, also about being more present – and not distracted by email and the work I need to complete that evening.
This time my inability to cope has come as a bit of a surprise. I genuinely thought I was ready to create and build my own business.
My wonderful friend and mentor put it this way: if you don’t spend enough of your time doing enough of what you love, then you are not aligned to who you are. Then eventually, things will just feel wrong and you will end up being a sobbing mess, just like I was last week.
A few days ago we were listening to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”. What?! If you are a room without a roof you are incomplete, unfinished….But as Dan said, what if you are a room without a roof in glorious sunshine? Then you are a perfect sanctuary, absolute bliss. So it’s all about context and where you are then? Next, here comes the killer line: “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you” and that is half the battle.
Right now in the midst of my mini midlife crisis and facing the prospect of all three girls at school in September, I don’t know what my complete picture of happiness looks like. I know that our family unit and its harmony is key. I also know that I am good at following my instincts and my heart, so for the time being I will stick with doing that. Even as the words ‘flaky’, ‘lazy’, ‘inconsistent’ and ‘unreliable’ buzz around my head. Even though I know I am selfishly asking more of Dan. Even if we are (gulp!) borrowing a friend’s tent for our next holiday in May……I’ll let you know how we get on!