Doing the best job – “I’m all in…”
“Get lucky and say yes” at the last WUN event I heard this I just hadn’t realised I’d already played it out.
18 months – that’s how long I’ve been back at work; running a full-time job and being a full-time mum. I’m happy!
In 2007 I decided it was time to start a family, as so many people do. Nothing really prepares you for that decision but it’s the best one I’ve ever made. I remember the conversations leading to the decision weighing the anticipated joy versus the impact of change. It would take years for me to recognise all the benefits the change and experience of becoming a mum would give me, personally and professionally. In building my family bubble I’ve certainly been on a journey and I have learnt so much….
I remember the day I realised I had been ‘out of the game’ for too long. My thoughts turned to work and my career/life before children. As many mums find I questioned my ability and whether I had anything an employer would want now, following the break and the inset of the much-discussed baby brain. I remember the overwhelming feeling of doubt my confidence was seriously lacking.
Like many parents I considered the potential impact on our family life and if logistically we could manage it, for a start. After a time, my mind quickly turned to how I would get my foot back in the door. I considered how best to achieve this, was it just applying for jobs with the cover note explaining a break to have a family and my readiness to return to work or should I be training/re-training or did I want a complete change, a new environment? The hopeful possibilities ran through my head for weeks and eventually I began to discuss my thoughts with friends and family and started seeking opportunities. Then one day, at the time I thought it was luck but actually I had made the noises and knocked on doors, a loud and charismatic character, who saw something in me as a mum and a woman with a law degree and oodles of energy, thought I had something his organisation could use. At this point I had spent 3 good years away from the corporate workplace and as a result took a job I knew I could be great at. I wanted to be sure I had the capability and capacity to be the great full-time mum and colleague I hoped to be. What I didn’t yet know was that the years of negotiating parenthood had taught me so much that you just can’t get anywhere else.
The buzz I felt in the first 6 weeks was intense, I knew I had made the right decision. It was the next few months that would really illustrate my desire to succeed purposefully to be my best in both roles. I had to prioritise, juggle, perform, run fast, write lists about lists and anticipate events and emotions. I had to be something to everyone – which is all I can be, it’s in me and I love that. To be clear like so many working parents I over work because I have something to prove; if I’m dividing my time I’m going to make sure that my best is always out there otherwise what’s the point?
There were days when I missed things for the first time ever and I didn’t feel great about that but on reflection I knew that this path may not have meant I could make every music recital, sporting event or fun occasion but it was showing my children commitment and balance to things I care about. I didn’t appreciate it initially but now I can see that this prioritising and balance that I try to achieve is teaching my children independence, it’s building their and my confidence in each other. My children are seeing me in a different light an even more so multi-tasking woman who unwaveringly cares for everything I do, they are growing as am I – and in my opinion there is serious value in that.
It took months to find the balance and the best routine for my family, but we got there (although the list of activities my children enjoy grows at an astonishing rate and sometimes my husband and I are like ships in the night achieving the time table!)
I don’t remember how long it took me to recognise that we had found our way, but I remember feeling we had achieved something great. It was at this point I began to value my own strength, my self-belief was returning, I recognised I was doing a good job. I was growing not just in the skills needed to perform well at work but also as a woman with a very hectic life. I realised that the time I spent at home as a mum had in so many ways, unbeknown to me at the time, had more than prepared me for the journey I was on. The woman who questioned herself, who wondered would she be good enough for everyone, was. Even on the days when the wheels fall off, I know I’ve done my best I’ve made measured choices with the information I have. I reflect on good and bad and learn from the mistakes I make but I trust me because I know every decision I make I do it with the best intention for everyone, with all of me – I’m all in, all the time.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is even when the wheels fall off I love what I do, I learn from the day, wash it off and start again.
If you are reading this and your wheels have fallen off, you’re doing a great job and tomorrow is a fresh start. If you are considering returning to work after building your family bubble or if you are just juggling it all; the sleep deprived days, the maze of home/children/friends/family, occasions missed or turned up late for or forgotten, the crisis’ you resolved, the dramas you managed/pacified and dreams you built, the hands you held have all brought you to this point and you really are more prepared than you realise for your next steps back to work or otherwise.
I’m not saying being a working mum is the best option but for me it’s working. I love what it is teaching my children and us as a family. I love the challenge of my every day. If you are sat reading this wondering if you are good enough, you are. Make the noise to be where you want to be; you are enough, and you are doing the best job.