On Having It All

I so enjoyed the article about hipster mum bloggers in this week’s Sunday Times Style (for those behind the paywall it was entitled “Mothers of invention: Mummy blogs have moved on from maternal martyrdom to focus on fun, fashion and hustling freelance work – all with baby in tow”). It really answers the question: can I have a baby and keep my career, my 100% silk clothes and my sanity?

The answer is: YES.

When I was growing up all I wanted to do was be a parent. I still felt this way when I was pregnant – I worked in a stressful job for a magazine and couldn’t wait to give it all up to raise kids. I wanted to bake cakes and grow herbs. I never wanted to step foot in an office again or worry about deadlines (bar the odd pre-school application). I even thought I might like to start crafting.

But I didn’t figure how important my career, my wardrobe, my hobbies and err, my figure, were to me. In a nutshell I had unwittingly signed up to give up everything that made me ME. And as soon as Elfie was born it felt so unnatural. I loved this little person to death but didn’t bank on how much my job (and wardrobe) meant to me.

So when Elfie was four weeks old I started my own business. I picked up my first client when she was six weeks old and have worked ever since, anything between three hours to five days a week. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination; because of Elfie’s condition I don’t trust any childminder apart from my Mum so we moved closer to my parents, I often sit up late into the night answering emails and CBeebies is much more of a crutch than it should be. I love my days in London but I get a massive ache in my heart every time I see a baby and I get jealous that my mum is doing fun things with Elfie when I’m not there.

Had I given my career up I worry what I would have done with myself when Elfie goes to school. I worry I could be left 5 years behind my industry with no recent experience, bar a possible foray into glass painting or hat making. I didn’t want that to happen; I want to be a role model to her, to demonstrate that it is possible to parent successfully, to keep your friends, career, style and sanity (just). One year in and we’re doing OK though I still struggle with having enough time to be the perfect wife (I’ve mastered cupcakes… isn’t that enough?). And let’s not talk about where I find the time to blog.

Put it this way: if Sharmadean can be the amazingly stylish businesswoman (I was in awe of this girl before she became a mother) she is whilst raising a beautiful baby boy, then I can do it too. I can wear my sequinned jackets to NCT meetings and buy M&S ready meals for my husband because I held a conference call rather than going to Tesco.

I can do it.

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  1. Richmond Mummy wrote:

    Great post, I am going through the same questions in my head around this can I have it all (do I want it all?!?) thing. I’m due back at work in Jan after a year’s mat leave but not convinced balancing a busy, stressful career in a PR agency will necessarily be do-able and compatible with wanting to be a hands on mum to my gorgeous girl. But to walk away from a great job, which I’ve spent 12 years or so building towards, is tough. And my wardrobe will be pretty shoddy if I only ever have to get “dressed up” to go to Gymboree on a Monday morning! Lots to think about… Well done you for doing a great job of keeping a slice of everything on your life xx

    Posted 8.25.11 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      Heheh, I do like the days I go into London when I can dress up a bit!! I don’t want to say about working mothers “I don’t know how they do it”, but really, I don’t know how they do it.

      Posted 8.30.11 Reply
  2. Bryony wrote:

    I’m jealous of the fact you have work to throw yourself into. I’m currently going a little bit crazy at home, but proir to Frankie my life was all about retail (something most people seem to hate but I absolutely loved). It’s impossible to find a retail job thats got family friendly hours. You seem to be able to balance the work/family/social/you parts of your life brilliantly – well done you! x

    Posted 8.25.11 Reply
    • alice wrote:

      I’m trying – so far so good! There have been a few rocky moments but I’m sure that’s to be expected. x

      Posted 8.30.11 Reply
  3. The issue I have with the term having it all is that it doesn’t recognise that what we want can change and bend and vary as our lives change and bend and vary

    I’ve always been a career woman, my career is part of my identity, a fundamental part of my marriage and of me. And I have worked full time, going back early, with both of mine. Why? Because I cannot step away from my career because if I do now there will be nothing when I want to come back to it later – yes there are times when I want more flexibility BUT I also want a career, nice shoes, lovely clothes, adult conversation and all of that

    It doesn’t make me a bad mother, it just makes me a mother who has other things in her life apart from her children and that is normal not abnormal – I want to still be me, I want to still be the woman my husband married and I want to show my girls that so that they can aspire to having a range of things but not necessarily it all

    Posted 8.25.11 Reply
  4. I think you can have it all but perhaps not all at the same time; priorities shift and change, compromises need to be made. I do think it’s much easier if you freelance/work for yourself to combine a career and motherhood – you’re the one making the rules – I’m VERY lucky to be in that position. I’m not sure how I’d cope if I was still working in a 9-5 office role (although let’s face it, it was never really 9 – 5) – I can barely get it together dropping my toddler daughter off to nursery in the morning! Btw I’ve always worn silk/heels/a bit of lippie even when my daughter was a newborn – fashion, now I could NEVER give that up!

    Posted 8.27.11 Reply
  5. Charis Doherty wrote:

    Oh my! You’re so right. And yet it’s tough not to keep questioning your decisions even when you know you need to GIVE IT A REST AND JUST GO TO WORK ALREADY!

    I’d just made my peace with being a working mama when I got knocked up and made redundant in fairly quick succession. Not sure how it’ll play out this time! Loved your mumtrepreneur rant! genius! can’t believe I just swallowed that one! X

    Posted 10.3.11 Reply
  6. Good for you! I mean being a good mom and an entrepreneur at the same time…consider yourself lucky bcoz you have the privilege to work and take care of your daughter at the same time and your mom helping you is a bonus. It’s not easy but our kids makes us stronger than we ever thought ourselves to be.

    Posted 1.18.12 Reply