The juggle is real

This week has marked the start of me getting my ‘work’ head back on. Last week my maternity allowance ended (I was my usual disorganised self and hadn’t realised it lasts 9 months not a year) I felt like I’d been pulled, crashing back to earth from the blissful baby bubble I’d been in. I’m self-employed, so didn’t have the same return-to-work-date looming and, in amongst nappies and snuggles and coffee and more snuggles, I had totally lost track of time.

This week has been interesting, I don’t feel like I run at the same capacity that I did before Jet, which doesn’t help because there’s a whole lot more to keep on top of these days, a whole other human in fact.

Jet, however, has totally taken this week in his stride. I feel very lucky to have birthed a total legend. He’s been ferried around and spent a lot of his week on trains and tubes, being bumped up and down the underground steps (no one ever offers to help) he’s been plonked on (and under) tables during meetings and been pushed around Covent Garden while I’m in castings. And all while poorly.

As the week comes to an end I find myself, more than ever, in total awe of working mums. Pulling off the most challenging juggling act around.

I’m 9 months in to the mum world and only a week in to the working mum world. I definitely have a lot to learn: How to nail the seemingly impossible juggling act of giving good attention to my work whilst not dropping Jet (metaphorically speaking, although I guess also literally: no one wants to be the mum that drops their child).

Mum guilt really is a proper ‘thing’ isn’t it? That kick you in the stomach, rip your heart out guilt. It’s a strange battle: in the long term Jet, and his well being, are my top priority but day to day it can feel like my work is at the sacrifice of him. Pursuing a job that I love and that was such a big part of who I was pre-Jet feels selfish, like I’m choosing it over him.

But I’m not. I’m choosing it because of him. I’m choosing it so that he too feels brave enough to pursue what he loves whatever the hurdles.

They say it takes a village to raise a child (who’s they? I don’t actually know who they are, but they were bang on the money) I so know this to be true. I feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by a ‘village’ of constant support. I find sometimes in the business of life I try and get on with it, not realising that I’m struggling to keep my head above the water. With a baby daddy that is often travelling I’ve had to learn to accept help (I know, how un-British of me!)

When Jet was much littler one of my closest friends (who already had her own children and work to juggle!) would come and take Jet off to the park for an hour while I had a quick *power nap. And friends brought us cooked dinners in those first few, hazy newborn weeks.

*I used to hate naps, thought they were a total waste of time. It turns out though that 20 mins of sleep in the middle of the day can be the key to keeping your sanity. 

Even just today, my wonderful mum paced the streets of Soho with a baby suffering from separation anxiety while I raced into an audition. So thank you, village, I love you and appreciate you beyond measure.

Which brings me on to another juggling act that I am yet to perfect: the give my full attention act. When I’m in a casting or job (like today) I find I’m worrying about Jet, hoping he’s happy and enjoying his day, suddenly remembering I didn’t put any formula in his bag or that I’ve brought his dummies into my audition and left my script in the buggy. But then when I’m with him I often have one eye on my emails. I want to learn to focus. To try and be fully present in whatever role it is that I’m doing that day.

I’m sure it will get a little bit easier (please tell me it gets a little bit easier?!); finding time while he’s napping to get work done so that when he wakes we can play and making sure that when I’m at work I’m focused so that every minute away from Jet is not wasted.

A friend of mine sent me a brilliant quote the other day:

 ‘Parenting was so much easier when I raised my non-existent children hypothetically.’

This was totally me. The list is endless of the ways I (shamefully) judged mums. But I know now whether you work full time, part time or are with your babies all the time we are all just doing what we can in whatever ways that we can to raise the best little humans that we possibly can. It’s simple really ;)



Parenting, journalRuth Marsden