#InIt… For my familySeptember 24, 2018
“The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job” said Annabel Crabb. And I’ve had a few (okay, many) dilemmas about being a working mother over the last four years. But do you know what makes the difference, when my eldest is hanging off the door handle begging me not to leave, or my baby cries as I put her down? The fact I’m doing this for my family. Even though it doesn’t always feel like it. From earning money that contributes to their education, care and food, to setting an example as a woman in the workplace, and feeling fulfilled because I love my career (and I know I’d resent them if I didn’t work) to relishing every moment that we do have together, I refuse to feel guilty about it. No matter how many people make me try.
The last 10 years have been a bit of a whirlwind on the work front. I arrived in Dubai with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a few years’ experience on a magazine, and found myself writing and editing guide books to the city, before moving into magazines, where I was Deputy Editor of What’s On for three years. It was full-on – a small team, adventures, travels, celebrity interviews (Usher put the phone down on me), long hours and more dining al-desko than I care to remember. I learnt a lot. Enough to stay with the same publishing house and launch a title myself, called GOOD.
It was my first baby, and I put my heart into it. I had an amazing group of female colleagues around me, and it had so much soul. Readers loved it. We helped people. It felt, well, good.
Then within six months I got engaged, married and pregnant in quick succession. My world tilted on its axis, my identity shifted. I was elated but wondered how all of this would work with a baby in the mix. In short, it couldn’t. We tried. My boss – a mum of two – and I devised a plan, with family-friendly hours after my three-month maternity leave, but I felt too torn. I felt I couldn’t deliver at work part-time, and I missed my daughter, so resigned to go freelance.
Freelance is scary. You don’t know where the work is coming from – or if it will come at all. So you say yes to everything at first, and inevitably end up with a bottleneck of deadlines, and it’s hard to plan time, or spending. But it’s flexible, and that’s what I needed. I was writing, blogging, doing some voice-over work, and asked Dubai Eye, a radio station I contributed to as a magazine editor, if they had any shifts for hosts. They did, so I got behind the mic on the other side of the desk, and did that too.
What has unfolded, effectively changing careers at age 36, was never the plan. If I’d strategised, wrote a mission statement, on how to get my own radio show every afternoon, I don’t think it would have happened. But that’s where I’m at – each morning I drop the girls off at school and nursery, have a couple of hours to myself (in theory to exercise, but more often than not to go to the supermarket, reply to emails and get a quick breakfast with friends) before heading to the studio, where have a great team, who both make me laugh, and make me sound good. Then I come home by 5.30pm to the girls, for bath and bedtime, for monkeying around and stories.
A friend once told me that I should make sure I’m the first thing they see in the morning, and the last at night, and I try to keep that promise. My eldest calls me every day at 1pm when she gets off the school bus, and I’ll always take that call. The radio is on in the kitchen every afternoon – they hear my voice and ask questions about my work when I get home. It’s lovely that they can do this.
I don’t know what work-life balance is – and I doubt if even exists. We’re lucky to have an amazing nanny, Loreta, who gives me time, head-space and confidence to work, safe in the knowledge that my kids are in the best possible hands when I’m not there. My husband and I try to have the odd night out (still home by 9pm). I see friends. I do yoga. I read. I look at houses in the South of France that I can’t afford. It’s life.
Is it perfect? Is anything? But when I look back at this crazy time in our lives, I’ll know that I was doing this for me, and I was in it for my family.
Written with the support of LinkedIn as part of their #InItTogether project.