Up until oh about 4 years ago, I was very focused on my career, I had aspirations to travel and work abroad and I definitely saw Director in my future job titles. I wasn’t too bothered by work-life balance, I only was worried about getting recognition for the work I did and the hours I put in. My job and my career were my number one focus, sure I had boyfriends and life outside the office but I didn’t and wouldn’t make any real sacrifices for any of it, not least I wouldn’t give up my dream of ‘HR-ing’ around the world…. then my other half happened.
Suddenly the thought of leaving my home country and travelling the world held far less appeal… I had to “see what happened” with my new boyfriend who was bringing all kinds of new and unexpected joy into my life. At first I didn’t see myself “giving up” on my dream but merely postponing the commencement. Let’s face it there was a barrage of other issues I would need to get over first – having some savings in the bank and getting around my (pretty severe) fear of flying for a start.
As with most of our relationship, we didn’t really spend a lot of time thinking or even discussing the next big steps, so after around a year it was just a given for us both that we would move in together. My OH had previously asked if I wanted to move in to his house, but that just didn’t feel like the right move for us – not only was it the house he had married, had a child and separated in but the house’s history was much longer. In fact he had bought the house while with his university sweetheart. He had been a bachelor in that house and it had always been his.
My OH was extraordinarily gracious and understanding of my feelings and we agreed to get a new (rental – we weren’t that spontaneous!) house to make our own together. So I flew the nest and settled down up the road. I love living with my OH and the transition was pretty immediate- although I am certainly not a natural housekeeper (let’s be honest I am nowhere even approaching tidy) but I do enjoy being a caregiver to both my OH and the little monster. Surprisingly, to me, I get a lot of satisfaction from sorting the littlest of things from laundry to putting meals on the table and sorting out the toy boxes. I love making the house we live in our home.
I used to be a modern career-driven woman… Now I’m wondering if being a Stay-at-Home-part-time-future-Step-Mum would be socially acceptable?!
In the meantime, I’ve changed jobs and continued working my way up, and our household of two and a bit has completely transitioned to a household of three, with one member who splits his time between two homes. It’s definitely not just a case of time which made this transition for me (I’m sure it’s felt like a very different journey for my OH) but the changing of my role and bond with monster too. A big part of my increased confidence and comfort in my role with monster is, I think, down to us becoming an official household and therefore a proper family. Having a defined role and responsibilities in the house really translated to my role with the monster too. Although of course monsters age has also helped – it’s much easier to form a strong bond when the other party can talk and express their feelings than it is to bond with a gargling poo-machine!
I change my mind daily about how important my career development is, although my family and home life is fixed at the top of the list. Personal development is still hugely important to me, I am very high in curiosity so I have a need to constantly learn and feel challenged but now I get that at home as well as in the office. As monster has started school, this will I’m sure bring a whole new set of challenges, decisions and scheduling dilemmas. How much time and involvement this needs (or can allow) for me is yet to be seen, but whatever it is I’m sure we’ll try and embrace it and continue to make every day with monster as fun and happy as it can be.
There have been points I’ve felt very “unfeminist” by deprioritising my career and wanting to focus on my family but.. come on… that’s ridiculous right!? It all about having the choice and what my choice is at any one time does not define who or what I am. If I ever have any bio kids or we have monster full time – I probably would be a SAHM and that would make me just as awesome… although maybe a bit more exhausted!