Lost: One sense of purpose and identity

Lost identity and purpose image








I know it’s hot, I know it’s nearly the end of term and I know everyone is tired and grumpy.  But underneath all that, I feel a bit lost.

When Master H started nursery last Autumn, I started writing picture book stories.  It felt purposeful, and more simply, I enjoyed the creative process and feeling I created something I was proud of and could enjoy with the kids.  I knew, however, that it probably wouldn’t be a career for me – writing is too solitary.  Starting up a business with a friend in January brought home to me how much I thrive on working with others, and how much I enjoy business stuff.  The process was a delight – often difficult but also completely energising to be purposefully engaging my brain on something outside my domestic enclave, that had potential, and with a good friend to boot.   Sadly it came to an end as my partner had to pull out in May.

But not to worry, that freed my time to focus on training for my first triathlon, which I completed on 30 June and really enjoyed.  So far, so purposeful, albeit in different directions.  But, now what?


Well, not quite nothing.  Organising social engagements, managing the kid’s logistics, keeping on top of the garden/house/allotment, trying to find ways to manage Master H’s belligerence and anger without running to the hills to hide and cry.  Yada, yada, yada.  Same old, same old.  Make a list, cross them off, make a new one.

It’s just not enough.  I don’t have the right balance – I am losing the joy of what I have because I don’t have an ‘other’ to help me appreciate it.

But what ‘other’ should it be?  I’m back, yet again, to the same old question of work / family balance.  With Master H starting big school next term, the challenge looms large.

I feel like I’m on the cusp of turning into someone I don’t want to be.  A kept woman – one of those Stepford wives with perfect hair, perfect home, perhaps doing good work for charities and her local community, lots of hobbies (probably tennis), always baking / making / doing with her kids, always there at school.

AARRRGGGHHHH.  I’m not even 40 for goodness sake.  I have a fantastic education.  I have a decent brain that I feel best when using.  Was it all for this?

No, it wasn’t.  But I am in need of a different perspective to help me see through the morass of options and considerations in a clear and structured way.  I need to tell myself to JFDI, whatever ‘it’ is.

I feel helpless in the face of the school year waxing and waning, the innumerous occasions to be present, the inevitability of the next break in the school term fast approaching and the competing desires to be a present mother and a fulfilled, purposeful person.

After 18 months not working I have come full circle.   I feel a reluctance to give up being the person who takes the kids to and from school, friends, activities and occasions every day and the flexibility that affords us to make the week work whichever way we want to.

So there we are.  I don’t want to give up being a full time mother, although I often think it would improve the time I spend with them and patience I have for it.  I don’t want to do a job just for the sake of it without actually enjoying what I am doing.  I don’t want to be a stereotype of a middle class stay at home mother filling her time with doing good and domestic bliss.

Clearly what I want is best said by Queen.

“I want it all, I want it all”

On the face of it setting up my own business would be the way to go.  I know from watching friends doing it that it has many challenges, and taking on a job around family life puts pressure on everything else.  But I still want to pursue it.

Sounds like I might have answered my own ad.  Except that I need a decent business proposition. I have had one, but at this point it doesn’t look viable.  I haven’t given up on it just yet, but I might have to.

Back to the drawing board.  It feels like the most used drawing board ever over the past year.  Let’s hope it has some life in it yet.


2 thoughts on “Lost: One sense of purpose and identity

  1. I don’t think that there is a right answer, I work and I feel better for it. Being a stay at home mum is great but I think you loose something of yourself when you do it, because your life then revolves around school hours. I always felt like I was always waiting for them to come home, and by the time they did I would be fed up and bored and they would be ratty and aggravated. I also found that they ‘expected’ me to be running around after them.. I worked on my own and found it far too isolating – I enjoy the social aspect of working with others.

    The major downfall of running your own business in my mind is that you are never away from it…. it can invade your home life and your work/life balance is not so clearly defined.

    Good luck working it out so it works for you 😉

  2. I think the last time we caught up – 2011? – we were both working full time – I hadn’t realised until now that you’ve had a change (although I’m relieved that the triathlon was something fitted in once full time working ceased – I was feeling most inadequate!) That said, I went free-lance at the end of last year really so that I could work more flexibly and mainly in conjunction with the Family business up in Scotland. I went from doing 60hrs a week (part time!?) to working mornings and spending time with Isla in preparation for School, realising that I wanted to change how we lived before school term restrictions kicked in.

    It’s definitely a lot better, but I miss the cut and thrust of being stressed at work weirdly, and I find that I even though theoretically I have more time at home, I get a lot less done and there is a dissatisfaction that I’m not more of a domestic goddess in lieu of working. I still feel that I need to have ‘achieved’ day in day out. I want to take the same level of satisfaction from being a Mum and I am getting there, but it’s small steps and I miss using my brain so much that it hurts, but exhilarates at the same time. And conversely, I don’t seem to be able to use my brain to magically solve tyrannical child outbursts……

    Educated women are brought up to think that we can/must/should have it all, but no one tells you about the compromises or how to deal with it or worse still how you might feel about it. You can be a high flyer (but you’ll need child care), you can stay at home (but you’ll need to say good bye to a degree of high strategy intellect). You can do both (and spend quite a bit of time in a muddle). We need to keep our health and looks, we need to be good wives, we need to be calm, patient Mums….all these things that we need to be good at! I wonder if men have the same sort of thoughts whizzing round their brains. Maybe they whizz round mine because I’m not using it enough!

    Annabel – you write exceedingly well, so maybe you need to do this in a social environment. Isn’t there a need for these exact issues and questions to be addressed? Magazines that I’m aware of are either pro-stay at home, pro-career interspersed between pages of elusive perfection of body and home! The problem is we are all individually pitching against each other to find our own path, knowing that if we turn down one route, we turn our back on another and it’s very isolating, when really it should be very liberating.

    It’s September now, and you wrote back in July, so I hope you found something in the meantime.

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