It’s a funny thing, becoming a mum. I went from being a really active going to CrossFit 3 times a week woman to a very unglamorous, large pregnant lady to a Mum all within 10 months. Within the 10 months that followed I went from having had a paid job since I was 15 to quitting my full time career to be a stay at home mum.
I like to think I’m quite fortunate. I joke about not having many friends but I actually have a brilliant group surrounding me.
I’ve got the girls you hear people talk about in films and books. The girls I grew up with. The girls I went to school and college with and who saw me through the awful plaits and hipster jeans, the ones that joined me in the occasionally pulling up our MK:1 thongs so everyone could see the straps (WHY? WHY WAS THAT A THING?) phase to all heading off in different directions. And in more recent years moving in with partners, weddings, babies, house buying, climbing the ladder at work – all the grown up jazz.
I’ve got the best friend I met at university. The one I lived with and the one who I have argued with like no-one else I know. The one who I absolutely adore and we’ve become part of each other’s family. The friend who I’ve adopted as my sister (with thanks to her 2 existing sisters for lending me!) and even jumped into the loop with her in-laws because we basically come as a package deal and they’re super cool. The one who counts down days with me til we see each other again.
And I’ve got the two friends who I’ve met since finding out I was pregnant. One toward the end of my pregnancy. The only person I know who manages to get me out of my stubborn streak without me even realising. She has to be the only person I’ve met other than my mum who is more stubborn than I am. And the other friend who I met at a baby class. The friend where we’ve lived parallel lives (including naming our baby girls after a flower and then giving them the same middle name for exactly the same reason) and we finally collided in one story and song filled room.
That doesn’t even list everyone.
My mum. Obviously. The best person in the world.
And Chris. He’s pretty wonderful, too.
I’m SO lucky. I feel like a bloody four leaved clover when I type that out.
In September I handed back the keys to my company car. Saw my last guaranteed pay cheque arrive in my bank account and said goodbye to colleagues. A decision that was not taken lightly. One that has meant significant cutting back at home, worries and stress. But one that I knew was right for our family.
I have never previously, and do not doubt my decision to leave my job. Even if I say so in jest. I know it was and remains the right decision. That being said, sometimes it’s lonely.
I see friends and others heading back to work after maternity leave, either through choice or necessity, maybe even a bit of both. I see other friends continuing as normal and doing their jobs, pursuing their careers. Their lives didn’t stop or flip upside down just because I had a baby. And sometimes, if I’m really honest, I feel a bit on the outside.
It reminds me of how I imagine people who didn’t go to University felt. They don’t doubt their decision to stay home or pursue a career straight away, but they still feel a bit in the shadows. Wondering where they fit in their circles now.
I question myself constantly. What will I say when people ask what I do? Will I still be able to hold a normal adult conversation? I mean most of my time is spent with somebody who says “Dadda, ticker ticker and good girl”. What funny anecdotes will I have in social situations? Will people doubt my intelligence?
In reality, I know the answer to those questions. I’ll tell them I stay at home with Daisy. It doesn’t mean all my academic and workplace achievements don’t exist. I can still tell people about what I did before. Yes, I can and will still hold a normal conversation with an adult. Daisy probably speaks more sense than most adults. My anecdotes might not be about Bill at work but about Daisy in her class, or when I sent a text message and turned round to see Daisy filling her nappy…without her nappy on. True story. 3 times this past fortnight. Seriously. Anecdotes don’t come from employment, they come from experience. People may doubt my intelligence, but probably no more than when they realised I backflipped off my bed by accident when I was 16. Or when they find out I wasn’t able to pinpoint Australia on a map until I was 22. People underestimate my intelligence because I’m daft as a brush, not because I’m no longer in paid employment.
But all that being said, it doesn’t take away from the fact that sometimes I still feel lonely. I think Will said it best in Will and Grace.
“There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. And I…am lonely.”
Not all the time. Not even most of the time. Just every now and again.
The thing is, the grass is only greener where it’s watered. I know that. I know there are people who would love to be in my position. There are others who would love to be back at work. And there are others, a bit like me, who are happy with their situation but might just occasionally feel left behind – whether heading back to work or not.
So I think, for me, peeking over at other people’s grass isn’t a bad thing. There is never anything wrong with admiring what other people have. But that doesn’t take away from the beauty of your situation.
I’m still adjusting to this whole new life. The lack of a pay cheque is something I find really hard. I can’t quite pinpoint whether that’s my ego or just a lifestyle shift I’m adjusting to. But I feel like I would be lying and dishonest if I didn’t discuss these bits I find harder. This isn’t a woe is me piece. Far from it. But I won’t write this blog just to discuss the wonderful bits, of which there are many. I write it to discuss all of my experience and my feelings.
So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep in close contact with the wonderful people I’m surrounded by. Those glorious humans are my weed and feed for my not-so-great patches of grass. The friends and family I surround myself with, who remind me I’m not alone. Even if I don’t realise it all the time.