So this week I was presented with a dilemma. After starting full time work on a temporary contract at the very end of November, two interviews later, I had been offered a permanent position a grade higher. This decision, presented to pre kids me, would have been a no brainer. I wouldn’t have had to mull it over, to negate the actual achievement I’d accomplished. I would have accepted immediately and run to the nearest bar to celebrate with friends. But alas, that’s not my life right now. I had only just negotiated part-time hours in the role I’m in now. Purely because I was thriving at work yet drowning at home.
Whilst I mentally battled back and forth over the pros and cons of accepting, I started to get majorly pissed off. I realised that I have given up my career since Eldest was born. I realised that I had signed some sort of invisible contract the second I had him that would ultimately dictate that my career would be what everyone told me it would be. I couldn’t work full time, the childcare costs wouldn’t allow it. I tried to navigate that and work part time. This resulted in me working three days and essentially handing all my wages (bar my bills) to the nursery. I realised that I would never obtain a promotion, everything was full time. Knowing my own capabilities, even in a part time capacity, this stung. I was working harder those three days catching up.
My friend messaged the other day. A single mother of two young children. She is struggling with the cost of living. She desperately wants to get a job. Who will mind her children however when she has parents who are ill? Who will look after her parents when they get sick and she is working? Why is it left to us to always navigate all this?
In between my deliberating, I realised that my husband has had to step up. I felt thankful. Then I just felt slightly resentful. Because he never had to deliberate anything job wise. Why would he have to? He doesn’t have to manage work, learn new systems and freak out about what homework they have to do later. He doesn’t have to arrange birthday parties, ensure everyone is invited, and make up party bags. He shows up on the day, job done. His work life always stayed the same. Even when he started his own business I supported him. Even though deep inside I was worried about money and how we would survive. I was already exploring other options in the event it didn’t go to plan.
This is not a rant about my husband at all. He is very good. It’s a rant about how we women can’t have it all. I guess it’s only started to dawn on me why I broke down last time. Because I was trying to do it all. I warned my husband that when I embarked, once again, into the world of full-time work I was intending to smash it. I already have in six months. But at the detriment of whom? My family. I feel guilty every day. So much so that I drive home at lunch every day to see Baby. To obliterate the guilt that burns inside me whilst I look at a computer screen, sitting in an office ten minutes away from him.
I accepted my promotion in the end. Why shouldn’t I? I will figure out who will get the kids. I will figure it all out, as I always do. Whilst throwing myself into a new environment and new learning only six months later. Why? Because we are smart. We deserve to shine. We all lose ourselves in the midst of child-rearing. It would be impossible not to. I sometimes wonder what would be if they let women work part-time but afforded them opportunities to progress. It should be quite clear to men by now that we can multi-task. It should also be transparently clear that nothing works unless we are in the background organising it for them. I have watched men at Executive level and I’ve watched women at that level also. The women have to work ten times harder. I’d listen and know they were smarter. Because, for the most part, they could think emotionally as well as logically. That’s a skill embedded in you from birth but one that regenerates tenfold when you become a mum. That’s why you already have a skillset going into any interview. Even if you don’t feel like you do. I know you do. I also know confidence can wane and waver after children. But, you can get it back. I’m telling you you can. When you do, there will be no stopping you.
I will leave this blog with a quote from the philosopher Beyonce (you know I love a Beyonce quote) :
This goes out to all the women getting it in, you on your grind
To all the men that respect what I do, please accept my shine
Boy, you know you love it
How we smart enough to make these millions
Strong enough to bear the children (children)
Then get back to business
Do you sometimes ladies 🙂
**This blog post is dedicated to Dame Deborah James. A woman who has shown incredible strength in the face of a situation none of us hopes to be in. You showed what women are capable of doing, even in the worst of times. I will miss your dancing on Instagram, your zest for life, your beauty, and your intelligence**