Happy New Year!
I have just realised it’s been more than 6 months since my last ‘blog’ entry and thought New Years Day was probably a good time to get things rolling again.
2012 has been a big year. My gorgeous daughter arrived a year ago tomorrow, my family moved from Singapore to Australia and in July I found out I am expecting my third baby in March.
There is no coincidence that the blog entries stopped around the time of this discovery. My ‘conflicting Kates’ kicked into overdrive and I felt (and still feel a bit) like I couldn’t talk so much about the balance of working and home life when I will now be at home for more than 2 years with my little ones.
It’s been a bit over a year since I stopped working at the Bank. That ‘rush’ and ‘whir’ in my head is fading fast and I can feel things slow in that area of my brain. And I hate it. I worry that with 2 years off I will lose my ‘place marker’ in the workforce and forget how to think in that corporate sense. I also worry about how this will balance and what I will do when the time comes. I now juggle playdates and swimming lessons with keeping the craft cupboard well stocked and ensuring the washing is done and the house is clean. In my head I know how important my role is now. I know my girls benefit from me being at home with them. My eldest daughter certainly benefits from having a better balance of nursery and home. My youngest has only ever known being at home with me. And I know what a gift it is. And yet, my self worth is harder to ‘judge’ – although perhaps that’s not the right word.
When talking to a friend a few months ago she mentioned how hard it is to have the discussion about ‘what you do’ now that she’s at home with her little ones. It hadn’t occurred to me, but being able to say ‘I work for an international bank’ was a big part of my own assessment of me. It was as if by putting that out there I all at once established my smarts, my determination and my ‘worth’ in a sense. Now I tell people I am at home with my girls and I watch them switch off. And I find myself spinning through it and brushing it aside ‘oh me? I don’t work, I’m just at home with my girls’…. And onto the next subject as quickly as possible. And yet I know how important what I do is, and I also understand that this is for the most part my choice.
I read something a few months ago (and wish my slightly addled mind could remember where it was) where a woman was talking about women staying at home and describing them as putting feminism behind by making that choice. That by being a woman and choosing to be at home I was somehow stomping on the advances of feminism. The support systems are there (child care etc) and I should be taking advantage of such things and showing my kids that as a woman I have options and can do what I like. It made me furious.
That said, I do see a lot of gender stereotyping creeping into my eldest daughters consciousness. She thinks pink is for girls and blue is for boys (when everything in the shops seems to be branded this way – even lego now comes in either a pink box, complete with ponies etc – or a blue box, with tractors) and looks around her and sees that a lot of daddy’s work (her own dad and my brother – whereas myself and my sister in law are at home with the kids). And I don’t really know how to balance this… But tell myself that in time I will return to work and for most of her life what she will know is two working parents, but hopefully she will remember this time fondly.
In short, I love being a mum, so much so that I’m going back for more. And 90% of the time (taking out the 10% where my daughters tantrums and tears and demands get a bit repetitive and wear thin) I love being at home. What I miss is that opportunity for healthy debate and discussion. I don’t want to spend my days discussing sleep patterns and discipline. So here I am back on the blog – ready to talk about what I’m thinking and reading in 2013 so that at least I can keep myself thinking and maybe when someone asks me what I do I can say 'I’m mum and a blogger/thinker/dreamer!'?
Happy New Year!