I don’t know if it’s the change in weather, or the in-betweenness, or just the relentlessness of the school runs, but the inevitable low has hit and hit hard. A month ago, I celebrated six months as a freelancer – happy with my CV of published articles and thrilled with a blog award. Of course, I tempted fate and wrote about it. Now the beautiful autumn gold has turned to grey November rain, and the days feel indoorsish and closed-in. Euphoria has been smothered by a sense of being trapped.
Since I left my old job, I’ve been asked many times what it’s like being a stay-at-home mum. I understand the question – I’m at home in the afternoons and don’t need childcare right now. But rightly or wrongly, it always feels important to me to mention that I work. Perhaps it shouldn’t matter, but it does. So when I’m asked what it’s like being at home, I usually mention work somewhere in the answer.
And now for the first time, I’m questioning it. Although nothing has changed, the time spent doing school runs and house stuff feels much greater than the time spent working. Perhaps the novelty has worn off, or perhaps it’s the weather, or perhaps it’s just the inevitable low that follows every high.
Freelancing by definition is a rollercoaster of peaks and troughs, and I knew that going in, but what I didn’t realise was that my feelings about freelancing would have peaks and troughs too. There’s so much I want to do, and there are very few hours each morning to do it. Before I know it, it’s time to go to preschool, and then begins the three-hour cycle of pick-ups, followed by the three-hour run of homework and food and clearing and cooking and sorting and tidying. Then back to work after they go to bed, then do it all again the next day. And maybe until next year’s longer school hours mean longer work hours, this is the way it will be.
I am not ungrateful, and I’m not even all that surprised – life is more interesting when it’s not just a straight line; the downsides are necessary – or so I keep telling myself.
My wise career-coach told me there comes a dip after any big change in life, no matter how positively it begins – I just can’t remember what she said about fixing it. Maybe there’s no fix, it’s just a matter of getting through, and hoping the grey clouds lift.
My daughter decided to tell my fortune today, using her A to Z of Rainbow Magic Fairies book. So apparently, the new year will be “misty and unfamiliar” (reassuringly unsurprising), next week will be “festivalish” (curious) and tomorrow will be “sunny and golden” – I’ll take that.