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Mama First, Work Second
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Mama First, Work Second
May 1, 2018
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Fifi Confidential Fifi Confidential
Mama First, Work Second
May 1, 2018
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Things came to a head one night when I was filling out some form or other – I arrived at the dreaded ‘Occupation’ section and despite my answer really not being that important, I launched into a soap box style rant to my unsuspecting husband. Now I was a ‘Stay At Home Mum’ where should I put my tick?
  • ‘Marketing & PR’ – the career I’d devoted myself to for over ten years? No, I’m a hopeless liar, what if I got caught out?
  • ‘Unemployed’ – factually correct I suppose but my ego wouldn’t stand for it
  • ‘Other’ – potentially ok, but to be clear you wouldn’t catch me adding the supplementary detail of ‘Housewife’ (too 1950’s) or ‘Homemaker’ (I’m not a builder)!

Looking back, it seems ridiculous that these labels bothered me so much, but when I quit my job after maternity leave with my second child I felt like I wasn’t just putting my career on hold, I was giving up a piece of my personality too. Who was I now? The phase ‘just a mum’ haunted me.

I worried that not having a profession made me less interesting to other people.
At social events I would become awkward in anticipation of the dreaded “And what do you do?” line. I’d annoy myself with my almost apologetic responses and my failure to correct people when they assumed that I would now freelance, or set up my own business.

It’s funny but it felt like choosing to be a full time mother just wasn’t a legitimate option, it wasn’t enough. I worried that by devoting myself to raising my kids, I must secretly be a bit unambitious, and I judged myself for not taking on as much as working mums. I even questioned myself about the type of role model I would be for my daughter – if I had no career to show for myself, would she think me lacking and somehow anti-feminist for choosing to spend all my time with her?!

Here’s the thing, I don’t feel like this anymore. I’m two years into this full time parent thing and I think I just worked through the particular (and perhaps unexpected) type of mum guilt that came with my decision to not go back to work. I’m not sure why my confidence took such a giant knock but I now genuinely appreciate that I’m hugely lucky to be taking this time out with my family and it’s not just the best option for my kids, it’s great for me too. Whilst I’m still not sure which box I want to tick, I know that for now, being a mother is what I love and right now it’s all I need to be.

 

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