Saturday, 4 June 2011

What were you before a mummy?

This question from Rachel has got me thinking; how much can she ever understand about my pre-mummy career? And come to that, do I know much about my mum friends' lives before motherhood?

I know there are many mums who have continued their careers, full time or part time, into motherhood.  For them I imagine this question doesn't arise.  But for those, like me, who gave up careers for motherhood it's an interesting issue.  How do we explain to our kids what we used to do?  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all nostalgic or full of regrets about my pre-motherhood life.  But as a mum to a daughter it's important to me that she knows all possibilities are open to her.  That she understands that motherhood is one part of a full life, not the only part.  And I don't think I model that for her, I obviously don't or she wouldn't ask this question.

So I try to explain.  
Try to help her understand. 
But it's hard for her to connect with a life so different from that she sees now.

I was a civil engineer; I built roads and bridges and buildings. I was a project manager, value manager and risk manager; working to keep projects high value.   I was a business-woman; yes I really was and I worked sixty hour weeks and loved every second.  I worked in a male dominated industry, one of few women; and I was never phased or patronised or anything but valued.  I was good at what I did; I would go as far as to say I was successful.  I authored papers and spoke at international conferences; I co-authored technical books. 

Then I gave it up, hook line and sinker.  I completed my last project early in pregnancy and told my clients that I would not be back.  They didn't believe me; they knew me as a one woman powerhouse and they couldn't imagine me as a full time mum.  

But I knew. I knew that my life was changing and that I would have different priorities now.  I knew I wanted to be a mum in the full on, practical, all or nothing way.  I knew I wouldn't be happy trying to make the best of both vocations; and with no regret I closed one door and moved into the new phase of life.

I have never looked back.  Never had a tinge of regret.  I know many people find that hard to believe.  How could I not miss the buzz and money and success.  But I don't.  I'm proud of my first career, I look back on it fondly; but it's like another life.

For five years I was a full time mum, I gave my full time career over to full time motherhood.  Well that's not exactly true; I've gained two degrees and a counselling qualification in that time, but I did all that in nap times, preschool sessions and evenings.  Oh and I volunteered as well.  But you get my point.

And now?
Now Rachel's at school and I have six hours a day, five days a week in term time, to myself; now what?

Well now I have my third phase of adulthood.  Now I learn that I can combine motherhood with vocation.  Now I work (unpaid) as a minister for the Church of England; now I volunteer for charities. Now I knit scarves; and write poetry and rewrite psalms which I make into bookmarks and cards and sell for charity. And I give a few hours a week to paid work as a Jamie at Home consultant which I love. Oh and I am a career advisor "on the side" through my business Spinning Careers. I'm a mumpreneur! And it's going well thanks to the Be A Mumpreneur course and support. I'm using my pre motherhood career life skills and conbining those with what I've learned about balancing different aspects of life and work.

Come to think of it I was wrong to worry.
I do model how motherhood and career can be balanced.  
I do show her how motherhood is part of life.  
I do represent it for her.

So perhaps the question is purely one of trying to understand what my life was like before her.
And the answer to that is simple; amazing, but not as amazing as now.

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