This month I want to focus on value, identity, motherhood and career. It’s something I have been turning around in my mind quite a bit lately. Puzzling out this particular rubics cube. What is my worth when it’s not measured by a predictable pay cheque at the end of each fortnight? What is my identity when I can’t quite articulate the answer to the inevitable “What do you do?” What is my value to a society that views success exclusively in career terms?
As a mother, I have experienced the gamut of working options. I have worked full time. I have worked part time. I have worked in an office. I have worked from home. I have been on maternity leave – that golden state of not working but still having a secure gig to return to. For a short while, between leaving a role and not yet having care available for my baby, I was without employment. Right now, I am self-employed, working two days a week during school hours. And that has been the biggest emotional roller-coaster yet.
This month I am challenging myself to remember certain things. And if you are struggling with value, motherhood, identity, career and how all of those things connect, perhaps you might do the same thing.
Here are the things I am reminding myself of:
- My time is valuable. I should treat it that way.
- My degrees and my career experience count. My creativity and my intelligence are intact. They exist. They form part of me and they in no way disappeared or were diluted when children entered my life. Baby brain be damned.
- I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, books on my bedside, a partner who I am head over heels in love with, little boys who light up my life, family who support me, friends who understand me. I am rich. I am grateful.
- Motherhood has taught me, and is continuing to teach me, amazing and valuable skills.
- Being able to stay home with children is a privilege. It also involves sacrifice. Not just monetary sacrifice, but a decision to place a career on hold. It’s okay to recognise that as a sacrifice. It’s okay not to be counting your blessings every second.
- Don’t compare. People only reveal what they want you to see. If I am tempted to covet someone else’s “perfect” life, I am most likely coveting only the 20% they choose to show. The 20% I choose to show probably looks pretty good too.
- Playing with my children, spending time with my children is a precious gift. I recognise that. But on the flip-side I won’t be caught up in guilt that I either spend too much time with them or not enough.
- My husband’s work allows me a certain lifestyle. My staying at home with our boys allows him a certain lifestyle. When we both worked full time, family life was frantic and tense. This balance works better for our family, and we both work to achieve it.
- Whilst it feels like forever, the boys will only be little once. This time doesn’t come back. And I need to see that as an opportunity and a gift, rather than putting myself under unrealistic pressure to make everything perfect.
- I know there are plenty of mothers who would give anything NOT to work but have to. My heart goes out to them. I wish it were a different world. But feeling guilty that I have the opportunity to stay at home with my boys isn’t helpful either. There are always challenges to be faced. Wonderful things and not so wonderful things. I can only work with my own wonderful and not so wonderful things. I can only work within my reality.
What things do you tell yourself when you know you need to shift your thinking about value, identity, motherhood and career?
A note on this post: Every month, I focus the blog on a different topic that is of interest to me as a mother of young children. Last month was style, and this month it’s work. I will normally set a challenge based around the topic for myself and readers (if they are interested!) to work through during the month. There are so many things that become a bit cloudy in the early years of motherhood and so much of it caught up in our identity. This blog tries to cover those things. My aim is to find clarity, my true identity and bring my inner minx out to play. That doesn’t mean the challenges are exclusively for mothers. I think we often come to points in our lives when things have shifted and we need re-evaulate who we are, what’s important to us and how we want to live our lives. That’s the crux of what these monthly challenges are about. I hope you find them as helpful as I do.