It’s 4am. 4am was made for tossing and turning and agonising. And headaches.
I’ve heard and read some thought provoking things in the last 24 hours. Things that have challenged my core belief of how and what I am driving myself for and whether the rewards outweigh the compromises. Challenging your beliefs is good. Reevaluating the things about which you have been unwaivering is good. It could also mean I am launching elaborate rocks at long-stated positions, just to justify the volte-face. Bookandbed is a Libran which means bookandbed is all about balance. Which means we can be turned.
The malaise we feel in our lives – as opposed to unhappiness because of actual physical or emotional suffering – is normally caused by the friction our heads create when we are living a life at odds with what we actually value. Usually we don’t know we’re doing it. I’m irritated with myself because I know better than this. I ran a workshop on this very subject for months and months. I challenged people on their values and got them to identify what they did in their working life that supported those values. Usually a number of people in the room would get a bit of a shock when they realised that they weren’t doing anything about supporting their values.
For too long now, these pages have very clearly held me to account about my non bookandbedding with my daughter, my lack of pretty much any meaningful attention to her. To be a western human, we operate by accomplishing things in our lives by ignoring its one certainty. Death. It’s the appointment we ignore, singing loudly, fingers in our ears. I’ve operated by ignoring the thing I swore I wouldnt: knowing my daughter is being raised without me. I’m not talking about her being raised by a childcarer between 8 and 6, Monday to Friday, but we could discuss that too, later. I’m comfortable with that. I’m talking about the overspill into the three hours a day I get with her because of the stress and the after-hours pull of career. I’ve shocked myself writing that down there. There are tears. I am not too big to admit to that. (bookandbed is a crier, anyway, so don’t feel too bad for me.) Three hours a day. And I can’t even manage to focus on her during that. I am not living my life according to my own values.
For me to do what I have been doing professionally means pushing away what’s in the corner of my eye. I am missing her precious life. Not only when I am not here, but also when I am here. To learn, to play, to read. To be. For her to know she is the most imortant thing in my life. Because right now, by the actual nature of where my whole focus is, if I were to say she is the most important thing in my life, it would be a lie. I have placed my work right at the middle again. I am not being true to what I am and what I chose to do. I am not a victim. These have been my choices.
To begin with, my husband and I felt that this was a justifiable, even necessary reaction to the economics of our situation. Being made redundant when you’ve barely given birth, in the middle of a recession, so soon after the hammering that your finances takes at the start of parenthood is not a situation I would wish on anyone. The situation unhinged me and I think that’s fair enough. Jobhunting with an infant is about as tough as it gets.
But, that’s not all this is. My entire working lie has been driven. That focus has rarely been responsibly channelled and for at least a quarter of my life, work has been my all. I am a feminist. I do believe I have a right to work and procreate and I do not believe that a woman’s place is in the home with her child unless that’s where she wants to be. But my child does deserve attention and nurturing, which she gets from her fantastic childcarer and her dad and grandmother. She also deserves a mother who is present and can read with her and be with her and who can chose wisely how to direct her energy. I do believe that women can have it all. Please don’t make me the poster girl for the mantra that working mothers can’t cut it. Please don’t, because I’ll have to come around and talk to you with menaces. This working woman can’t cut it because work is my crack. I am an approval addict. I get off on task-based performance. I can be found most days on my hands and knees jacking-up on a 2-page todo list. Hi. I’m bookandbed and I’m a performance junkie. Pleased to meet you. The way I validate myself is to work harder, faster, longer than other people. (I’m not saying I DO work harder than everyone else, but I do know that the belief that’s what I SHOULD be doing is what’s in my DNA.) What it isnt is healthy, nor is it a recipe for being a successful working mother. So I’m cutting the cord. Going cold turkey. Locking myself in the bathroom. You can carry on with your own career as addiction metaphors on your own, I am sure.
Today I couldnt sleep because I didn’t know what to do or what I actually thought about the choices I’m contemplating. But by writing all of this down in my blog I feel clearer on not what I must do, but what I will do because it’s what I need to do for my heart.
I am ready to create the life we need and deserve. I believe that that is possible.
The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert