I am a big fan of Sex and the City. Love it. Can see an episode for the 101th time and still smile, chuckle or all out chortle. It’s my “there’s nothing else on TV” saviour.
I often wonder which of the three ladies I would rather be like (I could never be Samantha, all that sex would just be way too much hard work!)
I admire Miranda for her high powered job. I know what it is like to be driven to succeed (and to feel tied to a desk) and find it interesting that she is the one who actually had a child in the series.
Charlotte? Maybe. I would love to know more about the heart of the art world as I often muse about how different my life would be if I had valued and pursued my creative side; so Charlotte’s art degree and gallery work I would certainly find interesting, and her post-employment status as a wife who truly didn’t need to work would feel like a luxury that I am certain that I will never know.
But overall, I think I would most like to be Carrie. The freedom of a successful, regular writing gig as a creative outlet, the option to work from her bed, a cafe or from the top of the Empire State Building, this is a flexibility I have always craved in my working life.
I love working. Loved the challenges my various working roles provided. You see, I am a person who is always looking for the best/most efficient/most effective way to do something, no matter what that ‘something’ is. A new class of children when I was teaching, a new event to plan from scratch when I was in event planning, a new training course to develop when I worked in HR management, they all provided me a challenge. A challenge to prove myself, to find a solution, to make sure the end result was the best that it could possibly be.
When I was pregnant I was unsure how long a maternity leave period to apply for. I thought I would miss my work as I really loved my job running a wonderful child care centre in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. I thought that I would miss the challenges my work provided, miss the human contact of working with great staff, lovely families and gorgeous children. I thought that my Type A personality that thrived on simultaneously juggling 44 different balls would be nagging me to go back after three months at the most. I couldn’t even imagine being away from my desk for a whole 12 months.
But you know, my life priorities were thrown into the air and shuffled around like a 52 card pick up before crashing back to earth in complete disarray late one February evening in 2008. I became a Mum and I love being a Mum and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else than at home with my daughter. To me, it feels so right, it feels like just where I should be.
Now, whenever the question of me going back to work comes up I try to ignore it or, if all else fails, I change the subject. And it does come up. The financial balancing act of day to day life after moving from two good incomes (and very different DINK-y priorities) to just one, is a tenuous one. We have had to learn to live meaner and greener to make it work.
And I admit staying home is not always easy. There have been days when I have felt like I am going stir crazy. There has been frustration and there has been loneliness. Many days I sigh with relief to hear DH’s key in the door, knowing that the tag team is home to take charge of the baby (if only for a moment) and provide some adult conversation.
Maybe it would be easier if I was more of a domestic goddess and actually enjoyed cooking and cleaning activities? Maybe I should buy myself a pretty 1950’s housewife apron and get my hair cut and coiffed into a bob? After all, if I look the part maybe I will feel the part.
Instead I take up a new ‘hobby.’ I start a blog and it gives me back some of what I miss by not being at work. I have a new challenge, something that I do for me, something to focus on, a new problem to solve. It allows me to be creative and provides me a community of support that I never imagined was possible online. It is flexible and I can work in my pyjamas from my bed (though more often from my couch). And one day, just maybe it will lead to an opportunity to generate some kind of related income.
I know this is not the choice that is right for every Mum. I watched closely the struggle of one of my best friends who feels that working helps to keep her sane. She has tried being ‘at home’ but feels that she is a better Mum when she has work in her life. In my work, I have seen happy families with two parents working outside the home, miserable families with a parent at home, and every combination in between. I have seen professional working Mums running in to catch their child’s special event between meetings scorned by stay-at-home Mums who arrived half an hour early. Like it is their place to judge the other for her choice.
So in the words of Charlotte, “I choose my choice.” And you should choose yours too. And whatever your choice is, be kind to those who make a different one. We can never fully know all of the individual circumstances that led them to that choice. We should not feel that their choice somehow devalues our own. We should never feel the need to justify our own choice. Instead we should stand proud, with our child’s hand in our own, and say, “I choose my choice.”
This post was inspired by an article by Sandra Tsing Loh in The Atlantic.