This is an awkward post to write because it means I’m blowing my cover. I wanted to write this yesterday, but I was entirely too demoralised to even put words together. The truth is, I’m feeling inadequate. Not a great way to be when you’re trying to project ‘eau de confidence’ and make your next post-kid career move.
I’ve been at home looking after my gorgeous girls for five years now, freelancing all the while, and love, love loving it (some of the time). It’s been really hard, I admit, and I never get the balance right. I always feel like half a mum, and I’m crap at being a ‘domestic goddess’, whatever the hell that is. This is half the thing that paralyses me from blogging. I see these gorgeous, decorative, creative and beautiful blogs with crafty mums making and baking … I am not her. I can only do words, be a mum, and cook, while doing daggy dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba (‘Don’t Bite Your Friends’. Best song EVER.)
BUT, working from home as I have been, it means I can drop everything for my girls, and pick up the hours late into the night, and on weekends, and always at least be a physical presence for them in the home, even if I’m in the office burrowing into my piles of paper. (They do keep me warm at night.)
Now? Now… I’m in a quiet patch.
SCARY PART A) The quiet patch. There is nothing more scary to a freelancer than a quiet patch that lasts a few months. I’ve been incredibly lucky for the last few years, and have been referred so much work I’ve been constantly flat out, which delights me. As soon as it stops, the self-doubt creeps in. I know the industry is in a state of flux, and everyone’s feeling the pinch, so I’m licking my wounds, and looking elsewhere. OUTSIDE. It is terrifying.
SCARY PART B) Finding a part-time job. Newsflash: there aren’t any. OK – there I go with the sweeping statements I tend to make when I’m feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. There are some. A very small number in my field, being vied for by the vast number of people who, like me, need flexible working arrangements for any number of reasons, one of which is raising children. Why are the only available jobs full-time? I know it’s frustrating as an employer to juggle a job-share arrangement, and to organise hot-desks or telecommuting situations, but I also firmly believe that employees who are offered such flexible arrangements work twice as hard and are twice as loyal. I certainly work my butt off when I’m freelancing, because I’m paid by the hour. Why stop for lunch when it means an hour I’d have to otherwise work into the night? Why take a sick day when I’m not dead? I plough on through. Every working mother I know works DAMN hard because she’s there to get her work done as efficiently as she can so she can get home to her other job.
SCARY PART C) The job interview. YAY! I had one this week which is awesome. I made it to the interview stage (so I must look OK on paper), and my fingers and toes and even my eyelashes are crossed for a positive phone call in the next day or so. But wow – I hadn’t realised how out-of-date my work wardrobe has become in five years. I tried all of my clothes on the night before (nothing like planning ahead. I’m good like that) and realised my suit no longer fitted me (amazingly it had grown!?) and my pants were all really ill-fitting and badly cut. Who was the girl who bought these bad clothes? Surely not the same person who works away in her home office looking stylish, glamourous and effortless in ugh boots and leggings. I’d forgotten about the part where your hands shake when you go to drink the water they offer you, and the part where you get hot because you are nervous, and the part where your voice sounds funny because you’re speaking too quickly, and the words aren’t the ones you chose in your head. Ah. Well. Time will tell.*
So – this is where I’m at this week. In an inadequate nutshell. HELP! I’m in a nutshell! I did, however, mow the lawn. WIN! Very badly – I may have blunted something when the sparks flew off the concrete of the gutter.
I’ve decided to just grit my teeth and hang on until I feel useful again, and less like a washed-up career lemon. Because everybody has some use for a lemon, right? Like I always say (not really, this is my first time, but I will say it a number of times after today, and then it will be always) ‘If life hands you lemons, hang onto them, because they make your gin taste much better.’ Although they may have said it more eloquently below. Yes? Are you still with me? At least I make gin taste good.
* Time has told. I didn’t get the job. So now I feel worse than a lemon, which is … um… a grapefruit?