I constantly get asked if I am back at work? It seems to be the piece of the puzzle that people are most interested in.
Not how is motherhood? What do you cherish most about your kids? What do you find hardest? But – are you back at work?
You see, for some reason, everyone in modern society appears to judge you as a mother on whether you are back at work or not. I’ve tried to understand what this is all about, because for me I don’t fit in to any category. I’m not a working mum and I’m not a stay-at-home mum, I’m a blend of both. And I count my blessings every day how lucky I am to have it that way.
I love that I have just enough work stimulation to keep me engaged in the “work” world, and I equally love that I don’t have the pressure of having to get dressed and go to work while juggling everything about being a mum. I did that with 1 child, and I still remember the day my partners and I decided that we would change our business model. My operational role in the business was no longer needed, and one of my partners was going to step up as the Managing Partner. Overnight my role no longer existed, and at first it felt so scary. But once I stopped work I suddenly felt a weight lift off my shoulders, that I had not even realised was there. I loved working and was stimulated by it, but I hadn’t realised the stress I was under by trying to juggle it all.
It wasn’t until the ‘work’ was taken away from me, that I realised how much lighter, more free and less stressed I felt.
I loved not having the added stress of working life on top of mum life, wife life, daughter life, sister life, friend life. I loved that my days consisted of “meaningless” activities like going to the park, going grocery shopping, endless outdoor activities, puzzles, hide and seek games, and cooking. I found that the meaningless activities were actually completely meaningFULL. And I loved that my stimulation now came from engaging with my children in a more mindful and connected way. I suddenly wasn’t rushing from pillar to post, barking at the kids to “hurry up and get dressed, we are going to be late!” (Well, maybe a bit of that still goes on!). I don’t for a second pretend that it hasn’t been hard, because like anything, adjusting to a new norm is hard. But I like it this way.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching about me not ‘working’, because before having children, my work was my identity. It is also how others appear to identify with you, and what most people talk to you about upon first meeting you. And it is obviously why so many people seem to be totally stumped about what to talk about, when you reply that you aren’t working at the moment. It seems that if you don’t have a job, then you don’t fit into a box, or you are ‘just’ a stay-at-home mum, so therefore it makes it difficult for people to have a conversation with you.
And in a way, I understand the assumption that women will go back to work after having a baby. Because it was not that long ago, that women weren’t afforded that choice.
We are the first generation of women who have had access to the opportunities our fathers and grandfathers had.
We are fortunate enough that the women who have come before us have blazed an almighty trail, giving us these opportunities. The 1920’s saw the Suffragettes campaign to allow women the opportunity to vote. Then in the 60s, a new generation of women took up the call and fought for workplace equality and against gender discrimination. We’ve come a long way in 2 generations that’s for sure, and we owe so much to the brave women who lead both of those movements. But the question I have, is have we gone too far?
Women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s have been raised to believe that they can do ANYTHING!. What a time it is to be alive and female! The world truly is our oyster. But in embracing these opportunities that are before us, we have taken on a bigger burden.
We are trying to do everything our mothers did AND everything our fathers did. And it is god damn exhausting!
Because it simply isn’t possible to ‘do it all’. The mythical “Superwoman” just doesn’t exist. Women can try to play the Superwoman role, but eventually the cape will fall off and she will fall crumbling into a heap. Because it simply is not possible to be everything to everyone without losing a bit of yourself.
But when we stop trying to do it all, and be everything to everyone, suddenly life becomes a little bit easier.
I talk to my clients A LOT about the importance of self-love and self-care, because if you don’t look after yourself, how can you support others? By allowing yourself to be nourished first, you can build the space and strength to nourish those around you. And this is where I feel we as modern mothers, have lost our way. We have spent years striving and driving, fighting and proving, pushing to get ahead and be recognised, that we have forgotten to nurture and nourish ourselves.
We are very good at nurturing and nourishing those around us, but often neglect our own nourishment.
Nourishment looks different for every one, but for me, my nourishment and nurturance came when I gave myself the space to just be. By no longer working, I had the time to relax and enjoy my kids. By creating space in my life, I have developed a regular self-care routine and developed a greater level of self awareness. I regularly allow myself “me” time to recharge and refresh and I am a better mother and lover for it.
By creating space in my life I suddenly found a passion for nutrition and functional medicine and have been following that path for the last 3 years. I know if I had stayed in my job running my Pharmacy businesses, I wouldn’t have had the time to realise my passion and my purpose in life. It was once I stopped the striving and driving that I found a new level of contentment.
Finding space doesn't mean quitting your day job, you need to work out what is right for you. But it does mean taking on less and learning to say no more often. I often tell my clients "No is a complete sentence". There doesn't need to be an explaination or justification for your reason for saying no. No is enough. Learning to say no, learning to stop once in a while and be still, learning to un-busy yourself, it all takes focused attention and practice. But it is worth it.
Modern Mumma’s deserve to take their foot off the accelerator and put cruise control on for a little while. To allow themselves the space to just BE. Because when you stop, take a deep breath and look around you might see, like I did, that life doesn’t need to be so rushed. That continually striving for bigger and better can just add to the stress in life. Maybe by creating space in your life you will see that there is no need for the striving and driving, because everything you need is already here.