Leaning out (a bit, maybe)

I’ve always been one of those wanky, self-proclaimed ‘career girls’. I’d thought that having children would change my insatiable need to work, progress, do more, keep on achieving. And for a little while, whilst on maternity leave, I think I convinced myself that I would totally love being a stay-at-home-mum. Lasted about three days before I went bat shit crazy and started drinking too much wine.

Since 2011 I have created two awesome little boys — who are now five and three — and been a fully fledged member of the Sheryl Sandberg ‘Lean In’ brigade. I enthusiastically read her book and had an affinity with the working mums sorority at school (whom you’d only see at evening events because you‘d rarely manage the school run).

But in recent months, things have started to change.

Nobody bothered to mention that as your child’s physical needs reduce, their emotional needs increase exponentially. I’d never really felt that guilty leaving my children at nursery, or with a nanny. Because their needs were always quite straightforward and dare I say, basic. Anyone (within reason, of course) can feed them, change their nappy, give them a cuddle and generally keep them safe and well. But as they get older, that substitution becomes much harder.

My eldest started school last September and he got off to a flying start. My husband was around a lot but as the school year progressed, my anxiety about not being there for him increased. Yes, work was tough, which made it harder to reconcile the guilt of not being around. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being a crap mum. My little boy needed me and I was choosing to work more than I need to, rather than be there for him.

What started as a creeping feeling became an all-consuming “I need to make some radical changes” and so I have; I have quit my full-time job.

Now, this is a pretty big deal for me. For the first time in my 15 year working life, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing on 1st September 2016. My five year old is utterly euphoric that I will be at the school gate and might be able to help with school trips and reading in the class. And my husband is relieved that our Sunday night ritual of going through the week ahead and planning drop offs, pick ups and the bloody dog, may be a little less stressful. The three year old is simply, three (and anyone with one will probably get what I mean!). But I feel quite mixed. Some days I just feel relieved, others (like today), I’m spinning out about the whole thing.

I know that I will carry on working, in some capacity. I am not making this decision because I cannot be arsed to work anymore and really do love what I do. I just need to lean out for a bit. Stop giving myself a hard time. Have a giggle with my children and make decisions based on their best interests. Not just mine.

Writing is cathartic and a good way of ordering thoughts. I will try not to become a self-indulgent bore with my musings over the coming months, but would like to commit to charting my journey in to the unknown. To keep me on track, if nothing else.