17 February 2011

The decision

I’ve never been great at making decisions. And this one is proving particularly difficult.

I’ve worked as a freelance consultant for the past two years. It gives me flexibility to be a mum to Little Fairy and Boy-Who-Asks-Questions, and wife to Busy-And-Important-Husband. It’s been surprisingly easy, and I’ve enjoyed it.

It hasn’t been a struggle to find clients. Granted, most are previous employees, and one in particular (you know who you are) has been incredibly supportive. I’ve dabbled in different industries, I’ve learnt different things, and I’ve been quite proud to say the words: “I have my own business.”

However, at the start of the year I woke up with an itch. Perhaps it was just my ego, or a genuine curiosity to see if I still “had it”…so I threw my CV in for a job with a major global firm.

And, well, I got it.

I should be excited. I should be flattered. But instead, I feel anxious.

I’m not sure what’s causing the dread? The job itself is exciting, financial security with promises of flexibility. There will be paid annual leave, and no more administrative drudge that comes with having your own business.

But still, there is dread.

Perhaps it’s a fear of losing control over the routine I have fought so hard to get on top of. It’s me who drops the kids into kindy at the start of the day, and it’s me who picks them up (usually too early according to Boy-Who-Asks-Question, who is never ready to leave). It’s also generally me who looks after the kids when they are sick, and me who makes dinner (albeit usually burnt fish fingers).

Sure, I’ve whinged to Busy-And-Important-Husband about feeling trapped, and sure I’ve had pangs of jealousy when he is wined and dined by his agencies and suppliers. But now that it looks like I too could be in for the spoils of a corporate high-flying job, I’m suddenly getting cold feet.

Is it because I’ve been out of the game for a while? Or is it because I know the “flexible boundaries” will be flexed as far possible. Now I’m not suggesting that the company will apply the extra pressure – they’ve gone to great lengths to reassure me.

It’s actually me. I’m crap at saying no. When it comes to keeping everyone happy, I’m my own worse enemy. When it comes to solving the big problems – I want it to be me. When it comes to the accolades – I want it to be me. When it comes to wiping my children’s arses – I want it to be me.

And here comes the cliché – yes, I want it all.

One thing that’s very clear through this process is the realisation that despite all the tantrums (mine that is, not the kids) I’m actually quite happy being shackled to my children, who are still so very young. I’m quite happy receiving my orders from two-year-old Fairy and four-year-old Boy-Who-Asks-Questions.

I’m sure I’m not the only mother contemplating a return to the workforce to feel these pangs of uncertainty. And I’m spoilt because I’m in a position where I can say no. I have an alternative. Many of us don’t.

What will I do? I still don’t know. Although I think I have a hunch…


  1. If it was me I would stay home with the kids and continue to keep business going to have finger on the pulse when it's time to go back to work. That's just me because I don't have the choice. You do need to take some cooking lessons girl so you don't burn Christmas dinner again this year.

  2. POSTSCRIPT: After knocking back the job, the firm is now talking to me about how I can consult to them through my own business. Who's a clever mumma then? Best outcome I could have hoped for.

  3. Oh I SO know how you feel. I want to be that mum, too, and be there with my daughter every single day. I never thought I'd want that, but it takes the possibility of something different to make you realise it sometimes.

    So glad you had such a great outcome!

  4. Oh no.... I have exactly that same itch and am contemplating getting back on the (work) horse. I keep making lists of good/bad, pros and cons, kids/me and career/family... They keep coming up pretty even.

    I love the outcome of your story. Hope I can wrangle something like that too!