Today I had an appointment in the city so grabbed a lift in with my husband. As I walked around with my youngest toddler (14 month old), I realised the city has become an intimidating and alien place to me now. I felt like a ‘fish out of water’. Pushing my pram, dressed in comfy trousers, t-shirt and flip-flops (‘thongs’ to any Aussies reading this or havaianas to the rest of the world).
I’d entered a parallel universe. Everyone bustling around with such purpose, as though they knew something I didn’t or were part of something I wasn’t.
My husband took me to his office to meet his work colleagues. I hadn’t planned on this. I panicked, fearing I looked like a homeless person he’d dragged off the street. I quickly ran my fingers through my knotty hair and did the obligatory once over check (no sick or food splattering on me, bra not on display – my toddler has a tendency to yank my top down in her quest for milk, no milk leakage and flies up), all good. I was relieved to have the remnants of nail polish on my toes from a rare night out a few days ago.
We walked into the modern offices and I felt a little weird again. In my head, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I shouldn’t be here in these offices with these busy and important people. I’m just a stay at home mum! Everyone was lovely and welcoming, particularly excited by the presence, distraction and novelty of a toddler in the office.
But it got me thinking, what is it about becoming a mum and having time out of the ‘paid workforce’ that makes us feel like worthless beings, no longer fit to enter the doors of the corporate world?
Pre-children I spent a lot of time wearing suits and working in offices. I have worked in big cities in England such as Manchester and Newcastle. A year of my life in Australia involved working in Sydney’s CBD, I got to know (and love) the city well during that time. Today made me more aware than ever how different my life has become. Since exiting the corporate world in 2012 to go on maternity leave, my life has changed considerably. It’s challenging, fun, monotonous, rewarding and stressful – but in different ways.
I enjoyed most of the jobs I had throughout my career. That said, I do remember times I wished I could pack it all in. I thought being a mum would be fun, easier and I was definitely in favour of having no one to answer to.
I had a lot to learn.
Being a mum is the toughest, most challenging job I’ve ever done! Sleep routines, sleep deprivation, cleaning, cooking, changing nappies, washing – at times it takes monotony to a whole new level. And as for having no one to answer to, Sir Alan Sugar has a lot to learn from my 2 strong minded and bossy toddlers.
However, the rewards of being a stay at home mum are immense. The joy I feel hearing my children laughing, being there to see them take their first steps or utter their first words, the smiles they give me when they do something silly and the way they make me feel when they run into my arms for a cuddle. These are the things that make the hard work and monotony worthwhile. Oh, and the fact that I rarely have to wear make-up, brush my hair or dress in high heels anymore!
I don’t intend to be a stay at home mum for ever. I miss having a different kind of purpose and being meaningful in other ways. I enjoyed the social aspect and independence of going out to work and I’d like to contribute financially.
But for the time being this is my life, and it’s one I love and am grateful for. I’m sure one day the city and corporate world will become familiar to me again. It might take a little adjusting to get back into the swing of it (and require a new wardrobe!).