“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

-Sheryl Sandberg

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s not me but just a phase I’m going through right now. Whatever ‘it’ is, it has me feeling very uncertain about things in my life at the moment. Maybe it’s because 40 is hurtling down the road at an alarming pace towards me… maybe it’s just because doing it all feels like it’s getting harder instead of easier.

Comparison is the thief of joy…we know this. And when I look at the grand scheme of things, I really have nothing to complain about.. I know this too. But I can’t help wishing that I knew what the secret is that other people seem to have figured out… this balance between motherhood and work. When I look at other women my age, with kids similar ages to mine, and see them being able to spend their days together I wonder, how are you doing that?

It’s the pull in different directions that’s the biggest problem. I’ve written about this before, and if I sound like I’m repeating myself.. well, I probably am. It’s not that the problem has gone away, it just gets highlighted every so often when the non-existent balance becomes particularly tricky. I think things like… ‘it’s almost Christmas, I’ll enjoy the time off for that and think about it January’. So I put it off for a while again and the cycle continues.

Another tricky week arrived in the Moran house this week thanks to good old ‘Creche-itis’ – poor little Alex gets diagnosed with Scarlet Fever, and on top of that has some viral infection they’ve named ‘slapped cheek’. (Honestly that one is like it was the last disease-virus-thing on the list that day to be named, and the namers just wanted to gtf out of there and open some wine and watch Netflix for the night.. ‘feck it John I’m done. Call it Slapped Cheek they’ll get the gist’.) So, yet more antibiotics, and yet more conversations about who can take time off and when. It’s a sad state of affairs really, when your child isn’t well and your first thought is about how you’ll tell your boss, again, that you might need to take time off to mind a sick child. Round and round we go.

Is there actually such a thing as a balance between working full time and being a mother? It’s clear that I can’t really be full time in either thing. Will I eventually have to choose between them? The problem is I don’t think I want to do either of them full time… maybe I’m just asking too much. But I’m missing out on too much with them, I’ve no doubt about that. Rian starts school in September, and if I’m honest I’m having a lot of trouble thinking about how I won’t be at the gates to collect him every evening.

On the other hand, I don’t think I want to stay at home all day long and give up what I’ve worked for so far. At what point will I not need to be at home with them? What would I do while they’re at school? What if I want to go back to work at that point – going back to work after maternity leave was hard enough, one year away and I practically forgot the name of the company, never mind how to actually do my job. Imagine five or six years away… how much the industry itself would have changed? It’s terrifying to think of having to go back after a long break away, and the loss of confidence I know I would experience.

But what’s the alternative? Then I come back to this quote from Sheryl Sandberg… what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

What are the things I’m afraid of? Missing out on the boys growing up – one. Giving up work and not being able to afford to give them everything we want for them – two. Not being able to get back into work further down the line – three. Me losing the plot being a stay at home mother, because let’s face it, there is no harder job – four.

Then I remember I’m more than just their mother, more than being someone’s wife, and I’m more than just the person who does the job I do at work – I am myself as well. Four aspects that make up me as a whole person. But whatever way I look at it, the motherhood, the wife-ing (that should actually be a word) the full time job… none of these can take place without the foundation that is just me by myself, as the person. And I’m realising slowly… if that foundation isn’t right… then how can the rest of it not tumble down too? Nothing is getting the complete attention it needs and deserves.

Maybe you’re reading this and wondering what I’m about to declare as the answer to all these questions. Thinking that I’m about to get to the point, tell you I’ve figured it all out and now I’m writing a nice little blog post about how I’ve discovered the answer.

Sadly, no.

What Would I Do If I Wasn’t Afraid? I’d have it all figured out of course. I’d win the lotto and not have to worry about money and paying for college and setting the boys up for whatever goals they want to achieve. I’d find something for myself, so fulfilling that would work alongside all the other aspects, something that could just perfectly weave itself around our lives and the inconveniences of creche viruses and kids needing to be collected and minded and most of all, who need to be just held tight until they feel better, without one hand having to reach for the phone or laptop to finish this one quick job that needs to get done.

But for now…yet again…I’ll put it to the side…finish this job, collect the kids, soothe and settle them for the night… and probably think about it again tomorrow.

{This article also features on The M Word}

Posted by:Jen Ryan

I'm Jen, 30-something, married, Mam of two little Munchkins, 2 dogs, Irish, red-haired and actual genius. (May not be true). I love Photography, cheesy stuff (including the music), fond of a cup of tea or two, although since the Munchkins arrived and taught me that sleep is for the weak, coffee is currently in top position.

3 replies on “Finding the Balance – The Working Mother

  1. I could of wrote this..it’s a never ending struggle of trying to get the balance right and trying not to feel constantly guilty too!


      1. When you find out the secret please do share as I constantly look like a mad woman running from drop offs to work back again and then home and then to try and get dinner, bed time etc..is mental!!


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