Motherhood is not meant to be shared with a career.
There. I said it. There’s a reason that back in the day, the women stayed at home together raising the kids and the men went to work, and that’s because it is hard enough just being that stay-at-home mom. Trying to work as well as raise a child is, well, near impossible. However, it has become our societal norm. It is expected that we as parents are there to raise our children, work a successful career, maintain our homes and our friendships and our own personal livelihoods. That. Is. A. LOT.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the advances we’ve made for women in the working world and I understand that a lot of us have no choice and I’m not saying that we all need to go back to the basics of just BEING there at home with our children (hmm, or am I?!) ….. BUT we do need to start realising that we can’t do it all.
I LOVE work. I’m one of those really lucky people that just fell into a career that I ended up being so passionate about. I never wake up dreading work, I always look forward to it and it feels like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. I’m also somewhat of a Type A personality. So I am someone who wants to be the most present, amazing mother; a fantastic business owner who spends time with her staff and makes sure they are loving their environment; an attentive, helpful and kind therapist who makes a difference in her patients’ lives; a loving partner; a thoughtful daughter and sister. Oh and I want my house to be spotless with beautiful healthy, home-cooked meals, a regular exercise and meditation routine, time to read my book, do some gardening and buy some shares and I want to spend more time with my dog. And I know I’m not the only person out there to feel like that. I know that before my daughter came along I was already struggling to fit all that into my life (I know, because I came across a blog I wrote about it pre-baby!). We expect SO much of ourselves.
This last week was a turning point for me. We had just opened a brand new NDIS clinic (Enhance Motion) with the amazing Jack and Lisa from North Beach Chiro next door, so had been working late and through the day (which I usually try very hard not to do if I’m home with my daughter) and racing around back and forth setting things up. Coupled with treating at Stoke and battling the never ending guilt of not feeling like I was there for staff enough because I was racing off all the time AND the fact that I just. Do.Not.Have a baby that has ever been a sleeper so was up multiple times in the night. I felt like I was a wound up ball of exhausted anxiety that was just winding up further and further. I am SO lucky to have such phenomenal business partners who didn’t blink an eye, but rather ushered me out the door when I said I was struggling and needed a week off. This was a very hard thing to do – to admit that I wasn’t coping and just needed a week to decompress, and to be able to just step away from the guilt of cancelling appointments with clients and staff to ‘just stay at home’ for a week. To shake those feelings of: “I ‘should be able to cope. I ‘should’ be able to do it all, and do it all well. I only have one child. Everybody else does it, everybody else is coping, so why can’t I?!”. We are always our own worst critic.
That week off made all of the difference. I didn’t go anywhere, or do anything different, apart from not have to be up and at work for 5.15am (but still up with a toddler at 4.30am), but it gave me the room to sit down and figure out what I needed to do to maintain this high expectation that I put upon myself. To just realise that a lot of the stress I put on myself is unnecessary stress but that also, it is who I am, and I don’t know how NOT to strive to be the best mother, physio, business partner, version of myself.
I came to the following big conclusions:
- Time goes by SO quickly. My daughter is already nearly 2! Which is ridiculous. This time of her life will be over before I know it, and I don’t want the memory of her first 5 years of life to be of me with one eye on her and the other on my computer/phone/diary. She is my priority.
- I LOVE work and I don’t want to not work, but something has to give. I am really lucky that my partner can be flexible in his business to take time off every day to watch Halle for a few hours whilst I work and then we can tag each other out – we haven’t had to use day care yet, and personally, I wouldn’t be upset if we didn’t at all. However, at the moment my entire work shift involves treating clients which means any PD/clinic management/social media/catching up with staff has to happen outside of those hours/at night time. Which, I’ve realised, just isn’t sustainable for me and the type of person and mother I want to be.
- I, personally, need to SLOW. DOWN. Life is racing past and I know what I do want to have memories of, and it’s not of me racing around like a headless chook using every spare second in my day but rather those of long slow walks exploring every snail and flower on the ground with my daughter.
These 3 big revelations have been the cause for my decision to pause my work as a physiotherapist, treating clients, and focus my work time on all the behind the scenes work that I am barely getting around to at the minute. So that when I leave work for the day, I leave it all behind and can focus my attention fully on my daughter and the type of mother I want to be.
We all have limitations (I’ve realised mine). Some of us, are convinced we can work through these limitations –and we probably can, but to what end and to what effect? Is it worth our health and the impact it’s likely to have on our relationships? In 20 years-time, are we really going to remember how clean our house was and how busy we were, or are we going to want to remember those amazing slow days at home with our kids and family and friends, taking our time revelling in each-others company. That company that we are currently ‘too busy’ for now.
Take a beat and have a think. Are you in a place you want to be? Do you need to slow down? Maybe you aren’t in a position to make a change like I have. But maybe you are, maybe it just doesn’t look easy.
But, It’s ok you know. To go slow.
In this busy, frantic, fast-paced world.