I am in a very privileged position. I realise how lucky I am to have been able to quit my job. I realise how lucky I am to have had four precious years with my baby. I am so thankful daily for all the many opportunities my husband has allowed, in being the sole provider.
And now I am no longer needed. Now school fulfils my role as chief educator. I’ve passed the baton from 8:50-3:15. I am essentially redundant.
“So when are you going back to work?”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked this. And how many times I’ve felt I need to apologise for myself or explain myself.
Because I’m not.
I’m not going back to work. And I’m not sorry.
I gave heart and soul to my career. I am so proud of my many accomplishments. National Teaching Award. SENDCO qualification. Headship qualification. Head of School. I finished on a high. And I share this not to blow smoke up my own arse but because on those days I can’t remember a name or a word; on those days I feel all I’ve achieved is snack preparation; on those days where Harry talks about Daddy doing the all hard work; on the days when I’m asked what I ‘do’ – I feel like I need to justify to myself that I once ‘did’ something. That I achieved.
Because no matter how you package it, being a stay-at-home-mum does not feel valued. Perhaps it’s just my perception but ask survey providers (and I’ve done a lot of surveys on ‘Prolific’). You can opt for: employed, self employed, looking for work or unemployed. Very infrequently is ‘home-maker’ an option and I’ve never seen the chance to select ‘stay-at-home-parent’ as an option. I’m obsolete on the drop-down box.
Yet despite this desperate (and, yes, probably vanity-driven) need to justify my ‘worth’, I value the time at home with Harry as some of the most important years of my life. And the most successful. It’s been a joy and an honour to watch him grow and I am forever grateful to Chris for that chance. Choosing to stay at home should be valued. It should be revered. It’s frankly one of the most challenging roles I’ve had but the one I’ve loved with the most passion.
So you’re a lady of leisure?
But what will I do now? Lunches? Serial gymming? Manicures? Hinching my home?
I’m sure there will be elements of all of that but I need a renewed focus. I need something to work my brain as well as my glutes. And I feel the need to craft something other than a set of perfect, almond-shaped acrylics.
This time outside of the classroom, away from schools ignited in me a passion of old. Writing. Yes, I’ve written sets of 30 annual reports for the last twenty-ish years, I’d produced summaries for governing bodies and even crafted some cracking models of stories to inspire year six writing, but two years after having Harry, I was finding it difficult to employ the right words for things. I needed jump-leads to my brain so I began blogging.
With my degree being Education with honours in English and Drama, I felt I had some credentials to make me a credible wordsmith. I was a bit late to the party though, with a twenty year gap, in actually utilising the skills. To be fair, blogging wasn’t really a ‘thing’ back in my university days. We were still on dial up with floppy disks.
But as much as my blog brings me satisfaction and has provided a form of therapy to support me through the pitfalls of toddler-dom, my heart is set on a bigger mountain to climb.
Next time someone asks me “when are you going back to work?” I have a simple answer.
I’m already working. On a novel.
And I truly believe I can do it.
It’s a massive risk. It’s a leap of faith. It’s bonkers, and wonderful, and scary. I feel naïve. I feel out of my depth. I feel petrified I’ll fail. And I feel full to the brim with ideas and words and excitement.
I haven’t wanted to voice it because, frankly, I’ve been terrified of what people will think. “Pipe-dream.” “Does she realise how hard it is?” “Does she think she’s the next JK Rowling?”
Perhaps. Yes. And no – it’s women’s fiction.
So when you see posts of me out walking in London, having lunch, visiting galleries, yes it’s a luxury. The luxury of time. The luxury to be able to walk in my character’s shoes. The luxury to unleash my imagination. The luxury of having a husband who has given me this opportunity to fulfil a dream.
I don’t imagine any part of the process will be easy. One thousand words in and I’ve already hit stumbling blocks. One thing I do know though is I’m a stubborn mule and I’m going to do my very best to see this through.
What a privilege it is to tell stories. I do not take any of this for granted. How many people get to devote their days to a project that is uncertain and a massive risk? It’s with the utmost seriousness I am embarking on this journey.
“Are you going back to work?” Yes. I’m an author (aspiring)! .