Before I got pregnant I had all these ideas that I could have my child and carry on my life as normal. After all, that’s what other women in my social circles were doing. I knew that my mum and mother-in-law had both taken a few years off work while their children were pre-schoolers. And gradually, they returned to work when they could fit it around the demands of the school run, and all the associated responsibilities that come with children. They made it look easy.
Ah, how wrong I was, with my rose-tinted spectacles and my assertive world view of modern women! Now, four years and two children later, I feel like a Stepford wife but without the glamour. I didn’t really make it easy for myself. When I graduated from university I had been applying for jobs within the media industry. I wanted to work in broadcasting. I took the advice of my peers and career advisors, and applied for work experience and entry level jobs all around the UK. It didn’t yield the results I expected.
Meanwhile, life plodded on, and I had to find an income fast if I wanted to live with my then-fiance (now husband), and save for our first home and our wedding. So, I did what I knew was ‘the right thing.’ I accepted a minimum wage customer service job in a call centre, and spent the next five years drifting from one admin job to another, all the while applying for any and every media industry role that looked like something I could do. My problem? I had no experience. And nobody would give me the chance to gain the experience by offering me a job.
So I gave up on that dream. I now realise that it was too vague anyway. And by the time my maternal clock starting ticking, I was still a very long way from being the financially secure, independent woman that I had been raised to aspire to. It wasn’t for lack of trying. It was circumstance. And social position. And, well, law of attraction. The more I chased something, the further away it seemed to be. When I finally realised my childhood dream of becoming a published author, I had a child. And then my world did change completely.
I became the Mother. I became the Housewife. I became, to quote from one of my all-time favourite films, Shirley Valentine. It certainly is a rollercoaster ride, but I do believe things are settling down now. I am an author. That is my career choice. I have complications in fulfilling professional obligations because my children always come first. That has been a bit of an issue recently, when I felt frustrated that I am the one to arrange childcare while my husband goes out to work day after day, doing his thing and getting on with his career. Yes, it is hard. But he earns the money. He is highly educated, highly experienced, and he deserves success. So do I, but then mine is a career that will take years to build. Until then, I will enjoy my children while they are young. I am Catherine Green. Just another Mother.
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