Working Girl

Life is all about phases. Once I was the burning-the-candle-at-both-ends-highly-motivated-successful-career-girl, and then I became the sleep-deprived-slobber-covered-breeding-feeding-weary-worn-stay-at-home-mum. And now, lo and behold, I’m a part-time writer… and TV book reviewer (RTE1, Seoige Show).

Ok, actually the real title is Full-time-mum-and-maker-of-my-husband’s-sandwhiches-and-housekeeper-and-part-time-writer-and-TV-book-reviewer, but when I’m asked I might just stick to the last part. A new phase in our lives has begun, and although I mourn the loss of what we had, I run squealing in wild abandon to a new life. For three years my toddler was mine, and we were free, but now she bounds into playschool without a backward glance into a world without me. I have cared for my baby constantly for the precious 16 months of her life, but now she is minded three mornings a week. I’m scared and I’m a little sad. But, I am also writing – and not just in the stolen moments when the kids aren’t looking. I can hardly contain my joy. I burst little sniggers from my mouth. My mind jumps from list to adoringly written list to decide what to do next. Now I no longer have to cram all my work into the silent hours of lunchtime sleeps, or the dark hours of night. I feel new life breathing into my fuzzy brain. It’s only ten hours a week, but they are MY ten hours. Mine all mine. Ten hours! How many words can I write in ten hours? How many emails can I send? How many blogs can I read? How many blogs can I write? How many articles can I devise, and pitch and write and send? How much money can I earn? Ok, the answer to the last question is probably not very much, but who cares? Who cares when I have ten whole glorious, gluttonous, gorgeous hours to write? My ‘business plan’ shines out like gold on my pin-board, and now I also have a gig reviewing books on day-time TV – which of course is just a gorgeous excuse to go buy some new clothes!

I love being a mum. It’s everything I thought and 1000 times more. But I missed me. And for ten whole hours I get me again. We didn’t have an easy start…. Instead of a week of words, we had a week of weeping. Tears at the playschool door (mine were hidden, my daughter’s were streaming down her face as she clutched frantically to my skirt). Back at home, the new childminder patiently tried to persuade my wobbler to stop burying her head in my lap as she screamed at the indignation of meeting someone new. Everyone was in uproar at the new changes to our life. Better change that title to Full-time-mum-and-wiper-of-tears-and-emotional-wreck-and-maker-of-my-husband’s-sandwhiches-maker-of-my-toddler’s-sandwhiches-and-housekeeper-and-part-part-time-writer. Change is as good as rest they say? They obviously didn’t have kids.

BUT, four weeks in and I shout, “I did it!” quoting my nearly-three year old (a phrase only surpassed by her favourite indignant statement “I do it!”)

OK, I was being very optimistic with those ten hours a week – typically, just as I get an inch, Daisy takes away a mile and drops her lunchtime sleep the EXACT week I get childcare for Poppy. But, I’m not going to moan – Daisy is settled in playschool, Poppy is adapting to the indignation of my minor abandonment, and I have written and I have thought and I have pondered. I feel ten feet tall. I even wear real clothes. Without elasticated waists. Life is almost perfect….

(C) AKG 2008

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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