At the end of January this year I began twelve months long service leave from my part time job. I’m spending my son’s four year old kindergarten year at home. Three months in and I’m often being asked by people “do you miss it?” Work that is. The answer? I don’t think there’s been enough time yet to “miss it”. Three months has flown by and I’ve been pretty busy. But I know for sure that there will come a time when I will start missing it. I know that after the year I will be ready to go back. I love being a Mum, I really love my son (goes without saying) and I’m so glad that I’ve taken this time to be there for him. I like that I don’t have to rush out the door each morning when I drop him off at kinder, I can stay a while and play. I like that I’m there to pick him up and hear about his day, everyday. I like having more time to spend on the things I enjoy (like this very blog). It’s all good and in this moment it feels right.
But I also really enjoy working, I’ve said it here before that like my job and I love the people I work with; they’ve become great friends. I think I’m good at my job, I feel confident in my role and I get to be part of some pretty great projects and events. If I’m honest I also like the financial freedom it affords our family. The money I earn means we can do more, and get closer to our dreams quicker. So yeah, I know when the time comes I’ll be ready to go back.
As a working Mum I’ve always had to walk the wire; a balancing act between competing priorities of career and motherhood. But this I know for sure; work opportunities will always be there and my son will only ever be this little once.
Are you a working Mum? Do you find the balancing act tricky?
This post has been forming in my head for many weeks now- different ideas all swirling around but not quite coming together. It all started when I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which I spoke a bit about here). Then I binge listened to the follow up podcast series Magic Lessons and this week I read this post by Stacey and it all kind of started to fall into place. If I was Oprah I’d say I had a series of ‘a-ha moments’. So now I’m going to try to put it all down in words, lets hope this makes some kind of sense….
I’ve always been a bit of a creative soul. I was the type of kid who liked craft, reading, writing stories and drawing. My favourite subjects in school were English/Literature, Art and Photography. I took drama classes for many years. As an adult I’ve continued to be drawn towards the creative- jewellery making, typography, photography, and blogging/writing to name just a few of the things I’ve dabbled in.
After high school I did the ‘practical’ thing and enrolled in university to study the Bachelor of Business. A year later, feeling bored, uninspired and dealing with depression and anxiety, I dropped out. I remember the day I walked out, I went straight to the newsagents and brought a bunch of photography magazines to read on the train ride home. I knew if I was going to tell my Mum I’d dropped out of uni I needed a plan and that was it- I was going to become a photographer.
A few years (and a whole other university degree and career later) I finally did start a photography business with my sister only to shut it down a few months later. Why? Because we discovered that once we started charging people money for our work, it stopped being fun. The pressure to get the photos perfect was too much. So it turned out maybe I didn’t want to do what I thought I wanted to do after all….
It feels a bit like I’ve always been searching for something…something a little more than what I have. Not in my personal life because I have a wonderful marriage, a happy home and family life- things are pretty damn good there. I thought maybe I needed a career change and have dreamt of starting my own business; but it turns out I really didn’t want to do that either. And you know what? I actually love my job, I love the place I work for and the people I work with. There are also many different opportunities available to me there if/when I’m ready. So what’s the answer? I love writing and blogging but I have stopped and started and reinvented this blog so many times over the years because I constantly fall into the trap of comparison and thinking that if its not making me any money then it’s worthless. But then the other day it occurred to me ….creativity and career are not synonymous. They can be two totally separate things and they can exist side by side and I think for me that maybe that is answer. I don’t need to making a living from my creative pursuits, but I do want to create. I need to create, because that’s what my soul needs. I need to make the time to get back to doing that. I need to write and draw and snap pics for no other reason than because I damn well want to. Because I love it (I really do).
Does this mean I’m giving up on any grand dreams I may have? No. Of course I would still love to be recognised for my work; to publish a book (I should probably start by writing it) or have a ‘successful blog’ (whatever that is) but what I now know is this; if that never happens it doesn’t really matter. I don’t need to publish a book to be a writer, I don’t need to host an exhibition to be a photographer, I don’t need a piece of artwork hanging on a gallery wall to be an artist. I just need to do it, to do it for no other reason then because it makes me happy and to do it for no one else but me. That will be enough.
Maybe it all sounds a bit wanky; I always cringe when I read back over my own writing but whatever, it’s my truth and I’m speaking it. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert said it all when she wrote:
“There is a famous quote that shows up, it seems, in every single self-help book ever written: What would you do if you knew that you could not fail? But I’ve always seen it differently. I think the fiercest question of all is this one: What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? What do you love even more than your own ego? How fierce is your trust in that love? You might challenge this idea of fierce trust. You might buck against it. You might want to punch and kick at it. You might demand of it, “Why should I go through all the trouble to make something if the outcome might be nothing?” The answer will usually come with a wicked trickster grin: “Because it’s fun, isn’t it?” Anyhow, what else are you going to do with your time here on earth — not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and your curiosity?”