Last night I sat on the couch next to my husband and burst into tears. Not like a few tears rolling down my cheeks, I’m talking full blown meltdown! Picture the kid in the park when their mum says, “It’s time to go Emily!” and poor Emily stops in her tracks and 3, 2, 1, TEARS!
In the past seven years, I’ve given birth to two children, been engaged and married, moved interstate twice in the space of 10 months, moved house 4 times, gone to Uni and started two companies. I have spent nearly five of those seven years in the online world sharing my life, warts and all, to a forever growing audience of hundreds of thousands of people. I’ve been admired and ridiculed, praised and judged. I’ve been rewarded and mocked, appreciated and critiqued. It’s been both a highly rewarding few years, but also a highly challenging one too.
Do you know what I think is the worst insult you can possibly receive? It’s not to call me ugly and it’s not to say I’m fat (two words we have now banned in our house the past year) and it’s not to say I am a terrible person or a lousy friend. I strongly believe the most hurtful thing you can say to me is that I am a bad mother.
Prior to having my firstborn Bobby, I was a 22 year old Uni student working casually in retail and sports media. I was so happy to postpone all of that to be mum. My husband was working his butt off trying to break in at work and training 5-7 days a week. It was just me and Bobby doing what you do as a stay at home mum with a newborn. Insert: cry, cuddle, and coffee (always unfinished of course!) A part of me loved it and a part of my hated it. Mums aren’t supposed to say we hate staying home, are we? Of course we are grateful, thankful and appreciative of our little ones and we are supposed to enjoy every minute of every day, aren’t we?
When it came around to my second baby Florence, who has just turned one, I found myself in very different position. I was the breadwinner. I was the one bringing in the majority of the money to pay the bills. My husband also worked but (like many couples do) we made the decision that it would be more beneficial financially for me to continue to work rather than him. So he stayed home with the kids while I took on the role of the worker. Gosh I don’t know how many times I’ve felt like I had to justify this decision.
The tears on my couch last night streamed down to my husband as I questioned what the hell I am doing. I’m at a crossroad, at a dead end and in ‘no man’s land’ as my husband last night put it. It stems from the fact that I have no idea what type of mother I want to be.
Or should be. Or can be.
Which did I like better?
Which was I best at?
Which was better, for not just my family, but mentally for me too?
Some days I just want to be Mum.
Some days I want to be a powerhouse in business leading by example.
Isn’t it amazing that mums can be the most relatable people who are on the same wave length and the sisterhood you never knew you had? Yet equally, they can be the most vicious group ready to attack and rip your throat out.
Being a mother is the most highly criticised job that I believe exists today. You know why? It strongly stems from the fact that the role of a mother cannot be defined. What motherhood means to you is going to be different to the next. It’s a topic filled with complexities and it creates a highly contentious issue.
To be apprehensive is to view the future with anxiety or alarm. Why do we find so much apprehension when it comes to talking about what type of mums we are?
When you’re a stay at home mum you’re told you’re, ‘Not working’ and that, ‘You have it so easy and visit cafes all day every day.’ Meanwhile, you are busting yourself only to be made to feel like you do so little.
However, when you’re a working mum you’re selfish, you don’t pay attention to your families and most commonly, ‘If you wanted to work, well why did you have kids?”
Apparently wanting, needing or being financially able to stay home with your kids isn’t good enough. But on the flipside neither is wanting, needing or having to return to the workplace.
I have been absolutely ridiculed for being both types of mother. To some, I was once young and living off my partner’s money, but hey, now I’m selfish because I want to make my own and support my family.
I always thought the balance could exist. Maybe for some it can. For a while there, I felt like I had it all figured out. But for me right now, I’m battling the urge to want to stay home and play PJ Mask dress-ups in my lounge room versus going out and building a career.
I want to stay at home and brush hair, make cookies and let my kids know they are always going to be my number one. I want to smoother them with my love every minute of every day, be there to watch their every development and to cuddle them when they bang their knee. I want to be organised and efficient and planned. And most importantly, I do not want to miss out on my kids.
However, I want to (and I NEED to) maintain some personal identity, stay ambitious, focused and create a life where my kids look up to me and see me working hard. I want to lead by example, to teach them to challenge yourself and highlight exactly how powerful diligence and perseverance can be.
I was bored senseless staying home. It didn’t fulfil me and my mental health quickly deteriorated. My anxiety and guilt surrounding leaving my children eats away at my heart every single day. As my son approaches his fourth birthday I know all too well that these days will be gone before I know it.
I’ve always been the highly passionate, confident one. I had direction and I went after exactly what I wanted. For years I feel like I’ve been able to give you want you needed to hear. I never faced this type of identity crisis after my first born, but something triggered after I had Florence. I wish I had all the solutions and all the fancy inspirational quotes to empower you to find your own answers. But the truth is, I too am learning as I go and no-one, let alone no mother, is perfect.
Sophie. The mother who genuinely has no idea what she’s doing right now.
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