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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I'm Analysing More Than My Stats.

I had one of those conversations with my 19 year old daughter the other day.  The kind of conversation that has you questioning your whole existence, pondering your life choices and wondering if you are indeed a good enough role model for your own children.

Megan was asking me whether I was satisfied by my life.  Was being a 'Stay At Home Mum' enough for me, did I regret the path I had taken?  She meant well, she wants me to do more for myself and not constantly put my children first in terms of time, emotion and finance. It's good that she thinks this way, she clearly has aspirations of going on to be a career woman with an amazing life full of fancy things and holidays.  I'm so proud of her drive and ambition. Am I really so far removed from the teenager I once was, whose head was full of dreams of  living the high life in London?

I was always the clever kid in school.  I wasn't the most studious pupil, but I was naturally bright, articulate and I loved exams.  I preferred the personal challenge that came with facing a blank sheet of paper with a head filled with subject knowledge acquired by my photographic memory.  Three hours in exam conditions allowed me to show what I could do.  I never enjoyed taking part in class discussions and I revelled in my slightly rebellious, anti-social persona.  But in an exam there was no-one to impress other than anonymous exam markers. I impressed them pretty well!

I had the grades I needed to go to university to study Sociology with Psychology.  But I didn't go and then I got pregnant.  Having a baby did not call a halt to my life or my ambitions.  I went to work in advertising, creating and selling ads for the Thomson Local in its heyday, pre-Google!!  I did well and earned good money as a single parent.  I had a nice car, nice clothes and a good social life.  But I missed my son.  My sister used to child mind him and it would break my heart when he ran to her if he got hurt.  I was his mummy. but I wasn't the main carer in his life.  The lure of cash and success evaporated as I yearned to be the one that my son ran to when he needed a cuddle.

So I found myself in a relationship that would facilitate me being at home with my child.  It never worked, it eroded my confidence and my self-esteem to be living with someone who was fundamentally so wrong for me.  I tried to create a family...but I made a nightmare.  I am sure I conceived Megan as a way of giving me the strength to get out of the relationship.  Apathy is a powerful state of mind.  But with the surging maternal hormones I found the motivation to get out and move on.

That resulted in me being a single mum with two children, but I was empowered, confident and strong.  Anyone familiar with my blog will know how my own personal Prince Charming, soul mate and best friend Ian came into my life at this point.  We've been together for 18 years now and have never looked back, but we never had the chance to date and romance in a conventional way.  He went straight from being young, free and single and living with his parents without any responsibilities, to being a part of my family.  There was never as much as an ounce of resentment from him...he relished his new role and became a remarkable dad to the children. Megan was a severely asthmatic toddler who would spend nights awake coughing, being sick and having night terrors.  It was Ian who walked her up and down the corridor calming her and soothing her back to sleep.

Ian worked hard but money was incredibly tight.  We lived on Tesco Value Beans which at the time cost 3p.  We actually revelled in our frugality because we were building our future from the bottom up. It was us and the kids...it was enough for us.

We moved away from 'down south' to live in Shropshire and with a couple of extremely fortuitous well timed house moves managed to provide a four bedroomed detached home for our expanded brood.  Ian earns enough now so I don't have to work.  We have enough behind us to not worry about money.  We both have '10 plate cars and we have all the gadgets and gizmos a family could want.  However, our mentality of frugality has lingered.  We don't spend money on nights out, designer clothing or flashy holidays.  We are happy at home together watching movies and knowing our children are safe and sound.  We are not motivated by flash and fancy, because we know we have got to the position we are in now by being careful with our money and putting the family's needs ahead of any personal desires.

So when my daughter asks why we don't go out for romantic meals together, or jet off for a city break or book myself in for a weekly manicure, I can say in all honestly it is not who I am.  I am a mum first and foremost.  That is my motivation in life.  That is how I define myself.  How could I not be defined by the one thing in my life that has shaped me for the better, given me wings and confidence and pride.  Everything I do is for the greater good of the family.  This is not me being a martyr or me trying to show the world what a selfless mother I am.  No, it is simply the way it is.

I can tell my children hand on heart that I have no regrets.  I hope they will go on to have fulfilling lives...in whatever fields they choose. The world is their oyster.  But simply put, for me, I chose being a mother.  There can be no shame in that decision.

16 comments:

  1. This is a really inspiring post. I hope that one day I can look back and be sure
    I made the right choices. I think you are so lucky to be able to do that and admire you for it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely post. Definately thought provoking in a good way. My career was in TV and I had 12 years of amazing times.it really was an "ab fab" lifestyle.

    I gave up a massive salary though to be a SAHM 8 years ago which coincided with HAW setting up his own newspaper which has bucked the recession but not paid out a bonus yet! We have seriously had to change our lifestyle from extravagance to normality to account for this. Which was the best thing ever in terms of us realising how much we wasted.

    However, 2 years ago I was (dare I say it) bored of the whole SAHM routine and set up my own business (www.halolifestyle.com) as I felt unfulfilled and almost brain dead. My business is now my 4th baby!

    I personally need the stimulation of work but only on my terms which is why I work for myself as can pick and choose around the family which is always my priority. I don't have to work, I choose to work,

    Different strokes for different folks.

    I seem to have blogged on your comments - sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post, enjoyed reading it hun.

    Lovely to see your pride in what you have done in your life :)

    xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. I enjoyed reading that so much, thank you x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Frugality rules the day here too. I sampled going back to work last year but I hated it. Money is tight but I think it's a great privilege not to have to work (although I do freelance in a small way - see www.readyforten.co.uk).

    It's horses for courses isn't it. I often envy women with fabulous careers who can afford to take their children skiing but that's just not for me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post Wendy. I've been a SAHM for over 2 years now and I love it (no pun intended). I gave up work after about 17 years of working full time. Friends often ask me if I miss work and I can honestly hand on heart say I don't at this moment in time. Maybe things will change the future, who knows? But for now I'm happy being a mother xxx

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely post. I've always been a working mum, but have managed to find jobs to fit around my kids - which means that they tend not to pay too well!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a really inspiring post. I am yet to find a career that suits me, I have changed from job to job without really knowing what it is that I want to do. I am nearly 30 and for the first time I have found something that inspires and motivates me- my daughter.
    I would love to be a SAHM or start my own business but we can't afford it. Unfortunately I have to work, albeit I may be able to go part time but we will struggle, and it is something that fills me with dread.

    I would love to be fullfilled in my career. But unfortunately at the moment I still haven't found the job for me.

    Thanks for making me think. x

    ReplyDelete
  9. Really love this post Wendy - beautifully written and as others have said - very inspiring. It's funny but I was always like you and would never spend on myself but recently have decided that I'm going to start putting myself first a bit more - so instead of buying the kids more clothes they don't need I shop for myself, I can book a facial without feeling guilty and can go on a girls night out and feel I deserve it..and you know what - for me it feels just great!

    ReplyDelete
  10. So lovely to read! I have just given up my career ( or at least suspended it ).

    I'm still looking for my dream job, but really enjoying being a Mummy, and blogging away for now.

    x

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am very proud of you mum and am incredibly greatful that we have come first to you and you have been a great role model for us, both in terms of being a good parent, being sensible with money and striving to be better. I would never want you to change I just want you to be the happiest version of yourself with nice things that you deserve. Love you millions xxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Judging by the comment above this one, you've done a great job of bringing up your children!
    I don't think I would've believed the simple pleasures of being a SAHM before I became one, yes it can be tough at times but the rewards are really great. I just wanted to say that this is a beautifully written and considered piece of writing, personally I think its the writing that you do best.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wendy, I have just read your blog and all I can say is it was brilliant. I know first hand what a fantastic and loving Mum you are and Ian is everything a loving husband and father should be.
    You are so lucky to have such a great family but they are equally lucky to have such a wonderful Mum. We are so proud to have you as a daughter and equally proud to have Ian as our "Son" xxx

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this post; it's so raw and honest and I found myself agreeing with so much of what you have written. I'm excited you've found such a wonderful man - it took me a few 'failed' relationships too, but now I too have found my Prince Charming and I feel so blessed. You have such a beautiful family and I hope you are proud of yourself for being such a fantastic person.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just found this lovely post after Mrs Green highlighted it on Twitter. It is so nice to see what a close bond you have with your kids, even as they turn into adults. I hope I can have the same for me and my daughter. Very inspiring and you should be proud. I know how you feel about pampering and me time - it just does not matter as much once you have your babies to be with (by babies you know I mean they are always your babies!)

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a lovely post. Definately thought provoking in a good way. My career was in TV and I had 12 years of amazing times.it really was an "ab fab" lifestyle.

    I gave up a massive salary though to be a SAHM 8 years ago which coincided with HAW setting up his own newspaper which has bucked the recession but not paid out a bonus yet! We have seriously had to change our lifestyle from extravagance to normality to account for this. Which was the best thing ever in terms of us realising how much we wasted.

    However, 2 years ago I was (dare I say it) bored of the whole SAHM routine and set up my own business (www.halolifestyle.com) as I felt unfulfilled and almost brain dead. My business is now my 4th baby!

    I personally need the stimulation of work but only on my terms which is why I work for myself as can pick and choose around the family which is always my priority. I don't have to work, I choose to work,

    Different strokes for different folks.

    I seem to have blogged on your comments - sorry!

    ReplyDelete

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