Image courtesy of Franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
At the start of January I made a resolution to write one blog post a week - and whoops, I have blown it already. One day last week a friend popped in unexpectedly one morning for a chat. The next day I had to take one of my daughters to the opticians. Later in the week I had a parents' meeting and a school uniform sale to attend. The few hours a day that I try to allocate to writing gradually became consumed by other matters. By Friday I had stopped even trying (or pretending to try) to write and just spent the day out shopping with a friend.
It is easy to become distracted when you work from home; sometimes the distractions take over to the point that they become part of the routine. I'm not complaining. I feel privileged to be able to take my children to appointments or to pick them up from school if they are poorly. I enjoy meeting friends or walking my dogs.
I do usually manage to fit in some writing during the day but it is sometimes hard to find the motivation as well as the time. So by last weekend, after a whole week of not writing, it was tempting to think that perhaps I should find a job and contribute to the family in a more measurable way - i.e. financially.
I have friends who are working mums. They seem to manage to juggle all their commitments but I really am not sure that I could do the same without becoming stressed. Plus, I really am quite busy. I do a lot of chores; cooking, cleaning, all the things that keep a household running, and I have a large family (a husband, four children and two dogs) to look after. I think perhaps every family needs someone in a support role - certainly in the absence of family members to rely on. I shouldn't feel guilty, I tell myself.
I am not a helicopter parent, at least not deliberately, but I am around to help the children when they need me. I am trying to raise independent, confident children, I am trying to make their lives as secure as possible so that when they grow up they won't have the problems that I did. It is important to me to prove that I am a good mother, a capable mother - although I know that most people don't even consider such things in relation to themselves or anyone else.
And that's the other thing - because of the track my life has taken, I don't know if anybody would employ me anyway. I have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, which might not matter so much if I hadn't gone public with it. I have been out of work for sixteen years, since my eldest daughter was born, and I never held a professional job anyway. I am not sure that I could physically cope with the waitressing and cleaning work that I used to do, or (if I am honest) whether I even want to.
So, is it better to be a working mum or a stay at home mum? I don't know, because I have only ever tried one of those options. Maybe different ways suit different people. All any of us can do in life is our best, which will depend on our personal circumstances and those of our family. I would say though, from personal experience, that once you have chosen a path it is probably better for your sanity not to wonder what the road not travelled might have held. For better or for worse, I am a writer.
Sometimes, blogging feels like shouting into the ether. There are so many things on the internet and in the world at large competing for our attention, why should anybody want to read about what I think? Last week, however, a friend phoned to say she had read my piece about how every down in life has a corresponding up and that we should always bear this in mind when we are going through troubled times. She said it had really helped her - and that was enough to encourage me to get back on track.
This week, I will write more than last week (that won't be difficult!) I will continue to blog regularly, or try my hardest to do so. I will keep plodding on, and one day I might even finish one of the many novels that I keep embarking on and abandoning. Or perhaps, when the children are grown, I might go out and find a job after all.
Meanwhile, life goes on and everyone in our little home is healthy and happy.
It is all progress, even if it doesn't always feel like it.