So, what do you do then? I hate this question!
When I was just a Mum ha! Whatevs, just a Mum. What a ridiculous statement. I hate hearing that. When I was just devoting my literal every waking moment, (and plenty of my sleeping ones too!), to keeping a tiny, mewling human alive, (seriously, how have we made it this far in life?! No other mammal is as incapacitated as us for so long!), and fed, watered, entertained. The house clean, (or not actually dangerously unclean anyway!), food bought/ordered/ put away etc, never mind the extensive list of other things we do as a mother, (yes I said mother, I’m sorry but from my experience, fathers aren’t quite as worried about missing Great Aunt Ethel’s birthday, happy to be corrected on that though!), I still felt as though what I was doing was not enough.
I didn’t have a ‘proper job’. Which is what exactly? I think in my head it is something where you leave the house at a set time, in smart clothes that are different from the clothes you wear usually, and return in the evening and get paid by someone else regularly. That is what a ‘real job’ looks like in my head.
So, tied to the home, (quite willingly I might add, I have no real shame in being a stay at home parent, unless I’m talking to high fliers!), I felt that when people asked me that fateful question; ‘so, what do you do then?’, I felt I needed to give them a better answer then, ‘I stay at home and look after my children.’ I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, there have been many many days where I have envied mothers that worked simply for their ability to get a break from it all, to go out and talk to other adults and drink hot tea. Although I know that those mothers spend many days envying me my days spent with my children, duvet days, park trips, coffee with friends, the soft play being nice and quiet and not resembling a massive great escape by the entire monkey section of London zoo! The grass is always greener as they say! But something always made me feel like I needed to offer them more. That my life as a Mother was somehow uninteresting and not warranting of further conversation. I mean, who doesn’t want to talk endlessly about weaning and toilet trips alone?!
I needed a job. Or at least a thing. A thing that I did that was seperate to my other life as, in no particular order, entertainer, story teller, taxi driver, cleaner, launderet, doctor, nurse, teacher, professional cuddler wasn’t quite enough, I needed a career. Yes, at 30-something, I needed a career. I have never had one. I didn’t leave a great job to have my babies. I was right near the end of my training to be a counsellor when my first baby arrived and changed everything. Little did I know, as I struggled to get close to the exam desk with my giant bump, that my children would inhale my compassion with such ferocity that I was left with very little over for anyone else. Just ask my poor husband, ‘you’ve had a bad day? What was bad, the bit where you sat alone and ate lunch? When you drank a cup of tea while it was hot? When you were not dealing with the contents of a nappy leaking all over the carpet and you? Which bit was so bad, huh huh?!’, there was literally zero cares left over! (I’m better now, honest, now I try to look like I care at least!) 😉
So counselling was out for the time being. I was also a pretty great barmaid and waitress. Which either involved days, (busy), or nights, (are you freaking kidding me?!), so also not a path I was keen on venturing down. And that left my great passion. This. What I’m sitting doing now. Writing. I love to write. I wrote so much as a child. Even now, I find stories that I’d started when I was younger and get so cross with my child self because they are unfinshed, I am desperate to know what happens. But making a job out of it? Hmmm, not so sure. But I did think, every time I read a post that resonated with me, ‘I could do this’, I could write a blog. And so I set myself up a free blog and I started to write. And then no-one read it! And I realised that for anyone to actually see your words, you need to be on social media. You need to put yourself out there. So I did, and the more I wrote, the more confident I got, the more followers I gained on social media. But, I’m still not convinced it’s a career. I get opportunities now, people find me and email me, asking me to work with them, I’ve built a great group of friends through it and I’ve even been paid for my time and effort.
But still, it’s not a job that many people understand, it’s not like a doctor or lawyer, and I’m not even convinced I’ve made it into a proper job myself yet! (Just to clarify, I mean my blog, there are plenty of incredibly successful bloggers out there.) So because of this, when I hear those words, ‘so, what do you do then?’ I get awkward, I tend to mutter, ‘I’m an, erm, blogger?’ like it’s a question, sort of checking whether the person I’m talking to has any clue what I’m on about, before I go on. But actually, that is unjustified. I don’t want to say something really wanky like, ‘I help people’ but I have written posts recently like this and this that have resulted in total strangers messaging me and telling me that my words have done just that, helped them. And that means more to me then any accreditation and financial remuneration, the fact that I, usually in my pjs on the sofa, can do something that I love, something I’m passionate about and make someone else’s day feel just that tiny bit better means everything to me.
But don’t be surprised if you meet me and ask me what I do and I shuffle my feet a bit, long uncomfortable and mutter, “I’m an, erm blogger?”, it’s a journey and I’m not there yet! Plus, professional pyjama wearer is probably slightly more accurate at the moment! Or maybe, cake tester. Yes I think that has a certain ring to it! 😉