First and foremost I'm a mother. I also happen to have a job, and a career.
You see, this is something I've been grappling with for ages (nearly 4 years to be exact). It is also something about which I feel totally enlightened after one conversation yesterday.
I went back to work when Harriet was not quite 5 months old. I didn't want to, but we needed the money. Sure, we could have completely upheaved our lives and rented a house miles away from our work and friends and spent not a dime, but more on that suggestion another time…
It was hard. I felt like a terrible mother, and a part time scatty brained, inadequate, teary lawyer. Lose/ lose really.
About a year later I was in the groove a bit more, and seemed to fall into the swing of mothering and working until that all fell apart in September last year. After scattering around for December and January, I finally took a leave of absence and have not had the juggle for the last 6 months, and it has been heavenly. I have been available - please read Trish's post on that – and of course was able to get In The Round up and running.
Lucky me. But the luck has run out, kind of. While on our mission in Mission, we decided that I needed to go back to work. Why? Well, when James and I sat down and discussed what the three of us, individually and collectively, needed, it required me to go back to part time work. No, I'm not bounding out the door to a Supreme Court battle with more passion than a trip to my favourite fabric wholesaler, but I've had a hand in this decision and so back I go, and confidently so.
I never realised that in becoming a mother I'd have to learn not only how to nurture a child, but also deflect criticism and uninvited comments on parenting. I have spent the last 4 years grappling with unsolicited comments (from a handful of non working mothers*) about how my decision to work is effectively a decision to have time away from my child, which time my child really needed with me. It's just not that simple, and I've been so defensive about this issue from day dot.
But alas, yesterday I was enlightened. It's simple, and goes a little like this.
This is my life (round, of course).
This is someone else's life.
You see? They don't overlap. They don't walk in my shoes and I don't walk in theirs. So what might suit them won't necessarily suit me, and vice versa. The most important thing, however, is that that is OK (I hate the double "that" by the way).
I love Harriet more than life, and when I'm working, drafting some horrendously dull statement of claim, or living the high life in a court battle, I still love her more than life. So thank you, to yesterday's enlightener, you have helped me in one short conversation with an issue with which I've grappled for four long years, and I am grateful.
PS. My enlightener had even more useful advice – if you work, you need a cleaner. Thank you.
PPS. I had lunch with a lovely friend today, who mentioned that she has a cleaner. Double thank you. She then added that she felt guilty about the fact that she had a cleaner 2 hours a fortnight, as she doesn't work. I imparted my wisdom – don't feel guilty, or apologise about your choices, as no one walks in your shoes. Oh, and by the way, the fact you have two busy kids, your husband is away 2 weeks out of four and you've had a tonne on your plate, justifies a cleaner!
* I deliberately say "handful" here, because I love non working mothers as much as working mothers – I have both as friends.