The Working Mum’s Thesaurus

working mum Average. Mediocre. Ordinary. All words to describe myself as a child. I always did ok at school, and at everything else I put my hand to, but I never really excelled at anything. I worked hard, I did what was required of me, but nothing in particular came naturally to me. Heck, I barely scraped into the university degree I desired…actually, scrap that…I didn’t even apply for the course I truly desired. Because, ordinary.

It turns out that my second choice career wasn’t so bad after all. It seemed I had found my calling. I finally found something that I was good at. That I excelled at. Suddenly, I was no longer just average. As I very quickly climbed the career ladder, new adjectives were tossed into the mix.  I was now excellent, outstanding and sometimes even extraordinary. Spurred on by the motivation that comes with excelling at something, I jumped in wholeheartedly and put in 110%. No more ordinary for me! I eagerly tackled anything and everything that was required of me to further my career and further study filled my evening and weekends.

Amidst all of the ladder climbing and study, I got married and became a first home owner. With my career well and truly underway and having now been in my desired work  role for a few years, we decided that now was the perfect time to start a family. I was a successful career woman, I had no doubt I would be an equally successful parent.  And I was. I was now described by people as nurturing, patient and organised. I was that mother who had a freezer full of home cooked meals on standby, I made all of my child’s first foods from scratch, and was told I had the patience of a saint. I had found something else I was good at. Go me!

After 12 months of rocking the motherhood gig, it came time for me to return to work.  Naivety reigned, and as I dropped my little one off at childcare, I trotted off to work, and immediately wished I hadn’t.  I walked back into work as a completely different person. I was tired. I was sad (because I missed my little one).  The job I once loved hadn’t changed, but I had. I no longer wanted to be the ladder climbing career woman. I wanted to be mummy.  I had gone from full time career woman to full time mummy, then returned as part time career woman and part time mummy.

I no longer excelled at anything at work or home. I was back to being average. In fact, most days, average was too kind a descriptor. My colleagues noticed. I noticed. My family noticed. Determined to return to my former glory, I stuck it out. I strived to be excellent again. I wanted people to remember how extraordinary I was. Months went by in the blink of an eye. I would sit in the car on my way to work dreading getting there, and I’d sit in traffic driving home, dreading the chaos that would reign once we arrived home and ran around getting organised so that we could rinse and repeat the following day. I took on more work than I could handle at work and at home, trying to prove to anyone who cared that I could do it all. In a way, I was also trying to prove to myself that I could have it all. Most days I was just one sharp word away from tears, and on some days the tears flowed freely as I sat huddled in the staff toilet at work until I could face returning to my desk. Slowly, I started to lose all sense of who I was or what I wanted in life. I was not happy. In fact, I don’t think anyone in my family was happy, and my boss was certainly less than impressed with me.

I would like to say that one day, BAM!, I had an epiphany and everything changed. Except it didn’t. Instead 5 years have passed, I’ve had another child, and I am still working hard, trying to be outstanding at work and at motherhood.

A little while back a wise woman that I work with (a career woman AND mother to older children) noticed. She noticed me drowning. She noticed that I was lost. She didn’t admonish me or criticise. She simply said that she wanted to see me shine again, and she moved me to a different role at work. Not a demotion, but a sideways move.  It turns out that I needed this move more than I knew. In this new position I found my old spark, and I am enjoying work again. I don’t spend each day feeling like I am drowning in the amount of work I have to do, but instead I am just perfectly and delightfully busy.

The days fly by until home time and I rush eagerly to pick up my little ones from childcare.

A lovely, unexpected side effect of a happy work life has been a much happier home life. Who knew?  I am enjoying motherhood again.

Maybe one day I will be excellent, outstanding and extraordinary again, but for now I am happy. I am organised. I am average…and that’s ok.

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