Having it all.
It’s just a myth, right?
An unbelievable pressure that we put on ourselves as mothers and partners.
I grew up believing that I could have it all. I could have a beautiful home, perfect family, loving partner, dazzling career. And for a while there, I nearly killed myself trying to have it all. And I failed miserably.
The truth was, for me at least, something had to give. I couldn’t be in that many places at a time and I certainly couldn’t give everything one hundred percent. If I was succeeding at work, the ridiculous hours that I had to put in meant that I was failing my children. I had to work twice as hard and twice as long in some stupid attempt at being able to prove that I was just as able as my mostly male and mostly childless colleagues. The fact was that I was better at my job than most of them by far but that was never recognised. But while busting a gut at work, my babies were in full time nursery care. That wasn’t what I wanted for them. It was the best childcare money could buy, I didn’t doubt that for a minute (and boy did I feel the dent in my bank balance) but I was paying somebody else to enjoy the best days of my children’s lives. When I was at home, I was frantically trying to make up for the time that I wasn’t spending with them as well as all of the housework falling squarely on my shoulders. At the end of each and every day I would fall into an exhausted heap feeling like a complete failure. I had such high expectations of myself. Such high hopes for how I was told my life should be. It certainly didn’t feel like I was having it all – in fact, it felt like quite the opposite.
After I became pregnant with our third baby, we made the huge decision that I would become a stay at home mummy. It was a huge step. I knew it was the right decision for us as a family. I knew that I needed to take a step back from my failing career and put my family first. But at the time, I couldn’t help but feel like I was a complete failure. Luckily, my partner completely supported me in this, in fact, it was very much a joint decision.
I will openly admit that in the early days, I found it incredibly hard. There was quite a large gap in between having baby number two and baby number three of almost seven years and going back to those newborn days hit me really hard. She was an awful sleeper and looking back now, I don’t know how I survived those first six months with virtually no sleep when I still had my other two children to get up and out to school every day. And going from two children to three, seemed like a huge step for me. In a way, the haze of those exhausting newborn days cemented my decision that I couldn’t even think of going back to work yet.
But in time, I loved being at home. I loved being with our baby and seeing all of her firsts. It didn’t make up for the time that I had missed with my eldest two children of course but I couldn’t change the past. And the sooner I realised that and got over my guilt, the happier I became. I was enjoying all of my children at last.
I was content.
I don’t remember there being an actual turning point. A defining moment when I realised that actually, I didn’t have to have it all. Being content at home with my children was more than I could ever want. But I have never looked back. I love being at home full time. I love my role as a very traditional housewife. I am happier than I have ever ever been and this in turn makes my lovely family happier than it has ever been too. They need me at home right now while they are still young. And I really need to be at home with them. I also know just how lucky I am that financially this is even an option for us.
Being a stay at home mummy isn’t for everyone. I know that. But it is right for me. I still find myself having to justify why I don’t work outside the home to others and there are times when I think maybe it’s not enough when my own extended family question my decisions. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I have never been happier.
And it doesn’t get better than that, for me at least.