It’s now been over three months since I stopped working. Friends still ask questions like, “still enjoying not working?” or similar, and I smile and nod, but, the truth is, I don’t know if I am. It’s certainly not all that people imagine it to be.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy that I’m at home to do the housework (sometimes). I’m happy that I am able to take the kids to school every morning and that I’m able to collect them both at the ends of their respective days (even if the school run is very boring, I do love seeing their cheery little faces at the end of the day!). I’m happy that I get to spend more time writing, working on my blogs, and that I have time to sign up to some online courses (still working on actually doing them, but hey, I signed up!). I love that I have time to get out in the fresh air with my bike or my camera on my own.
I love that, if I want to, I can wander round the supermarket at my own pace, taking my sweet time, unhurried by the nagging smallperson, or the rush to get home, guilty for leaving them with Daddy for too long. I love that, if I feel ill and I need to, I can crawl back into bed once the kids are safely dispatched. I can leave my shower until they’re at school, so I’m not disturbed by Small wondering where on earth I’ve gotten to in the two minutes since she last saw me, or by Big needing a poo. I can sit down to eat my lunch without having to get up a thousand times to get drinks, a clean fork, a tissue, a pudding, and it’s the one meal I can eat slowly, and in peace, without having to share it with anyone.
And, one of the main reasons I gave up work was to be more available for Small and her needs, including appointments at school, with healthcare professionals and local authority officials, which is much, much easier now. I can spend time in Nursery with Small, or in school with Big for charity mornings, assemblies and workshops. I am incredibly fortunate that not having a job allows me to do this; I know the guilt so many of my mum friends feel about having to work and not being there for their kids every time. I’m very glad I can.
But, for all these things, there is a niggling doubt. I feel that, slowly, piece by piece, I’m losing my identity.
I’ve never been great at self-confidence. I’m an anxious, nervous, glass-half-empty kind of gal. It takes a lot of plucking of courage to do, well, lots of things.
I am a capable person; I know this deep-down. I’ve led a large customer service team at a busy city railway station; I’ve confidently run on-train one-man buffet cars, dealing with rude, obnoxious or drunk and even abusive customers – and more. I’ve managed nurseries, ensuring the provision of quality care for hundreds of children, and dealt with any number of parental requests, unreasonable and otherwise, and I’ve had several difficult conversations about their children too. I have a foundation degree which I gained years after leaving school. Studying didn’t come easy, especially with two young children and a job to fit in too.
However, right now, I don’t know who I am. I feel directionless.
Right now, I feel I’m ‘just’ a mum, trying to get to the end of each day with children who are clean(ish) fed (on something, not necessarily healthy every day), warm, educated, happy. I know there’s no such thing as ‘just’ a mum really – we all work bloody hard at what we do, whether we go out to work on top of mummying or not. But I don’t feel it has the recognition it deserves. And I’m a bit fed up of being called ‘mum’, by The Hubby, by teachers, by doctors. I have a name. It is not Mum, unless you are my kids.
I’m dreading the necessity of a paid job rearing its ugly head again. The thought of having to sell myself at an interview terrifies me, despite the practice and experience I’ve had at them in the past. The thought of learning new skills, new people, new methods makes my heart pound. I feel incapable. I can’t do it. What if I get it wrong and look foolish? I don’t want to do what I did before – I’ve fallen out of love with it and I don’t think I’d enjoy it any more. I’m approaching 40 – what if I’m considered too old?
It’s a moot point at the moment anyway. I’m not looking for work just now. But I don’t think I like not working. I need to find something that fits in with my awkward family and that makes me happy and fulfilled and feel that I’m worth something. And, while I’m there at the end of the rainbow, I’ll pick up that pot of gold and collect a couple of flying pigs too!