“I have discovered in recent years that the world I thought I’d left when I chose to stay at home, is still out there and it is up to me to go find it once more. A task I am enjoying pursuing”
This week I meet Tric Kearney, mom to four children, two at college, one in secondary school and one still to finish primary school. For most of her mothering years she has been a stay at home mother, only recently taking up part-time work.
She loves writing and began a blog ‘My thoughts on a page‘ in 2013.
(for anyone who doesn’t know her, I should tell you that her name is pronounced Trish – now you can read on without confusion 🙂 )
Thank you for inviting me onto your blog. I have four children; three girls aged 23, 17 and 12, and one boy aged 20.
And now could you tell me a little about your career history – what did you do before you had your children and for how long you were working at this? Did you enjoy this work?
I trained as a nurse, and worked in Dublin, Australia and Cork. It was a job I really loved. I married quite young and became pregnant almost immediately, so at the age of 24 I retired, to become a SAHM!
Did you consider going back to work at any stage or did you always know you wanted to be a stay-at-home mom?
From the day I discovered I was pregnant I knew I would not return to work. Even though that is over twenty years ago my friends were horrified to think I would be a SAHM. My husband too said he felt uncomfortable saying it at work, as he felt people were judging him, as if it was he had made the decision not me. At that time more and more mothers were returning to work, and it was almost expected that you would do so. I felt as if I was letting those women down by doing the ‘old fashioned thing’ of staying at home. However for me it was an easy decision to make, not quite as easy to live with though.
Is there anything you missed about working?
As a young SAHM I missed everything. I missed my friends, my life, company, a career. I missed being someone. Life was very lonely, and yet it was everything I wanted, in that I had my beautiful baby girl who filled my days, and nights, so I couldn’t really complain.
However it was not easy, and certainly there were many days, I watched my husband leave, as I held a fretful baby in my arms, who had already been up with me since five, when I felt it was all too much.
The idea of working outside the home certainly appealed to me on days such as that.
What do you love about being at home with your children?
I have always loved the idea that if ever my children had a bad day, or moment, I would be there for them. From an early age I was a bit of a mother earth type, and for me being there when they came in from school, or were doing their homework, was very important to me.
However saying that I do not believe it is essential. It was essential for me, not necessarily for my children. I minded two other children, and I’d like to believe they did not ‘suffer’ because their mother worked full-time outside the home.
I have raised three girls and I definitely want them to have choices, in their choice of career, and in childcare. My choice was to stay at home. Looking back I’d not change a day of it.
You have recently returned to work. What do you do and for how long have you been working at this?
In the past two years I have returned to part-time ‘work’. I am now head teacher in a busy swimming club. It is not an actual ‘job’ but it is something I do six days a week. It is only one or two hours in an evening or on a Saturday and Sunday morning. It is something I am really passionate about, and I love it. The hours involved mean I am still around for my two younger children after school.
Do you think there’s a glass ceiling for women, or is it a perception based on the fact that mothers often look for flexibility or part-time hours, which in turn limits their opportunities?
I’m afraid I do believe there is a glass ceiling for women. I don’t necessarily believe it is for mothers, but for all women. Look at the teaching profession. A miniscule number of women make principle yet they make up the majority of the workforce. I don’t believe that it is impossible for women to do very well in the workforce, just that it is more difficult for them than for men.
I do see big changes happening though. More and more fathers are acting in a dual role. More companies are allowing job sharing. I firmly believe that by the time my youngest is out in the workforce it will be a much fairer place to work. Also with the internet, it is much more likely that future generations will have to spend less time away from their children. I think the future definitely looks bright for mothers.
Do you have any advice for expectant or new mothers thinking about leaving their jobs to stay-at-home, e.g. how to weigh up the decision, how to know it’s the right thing to do?
I would say if finances are not your main consideration, follow your heart. Staying at home for me was what my heart demanded, it is not the same for everyone.
If you do decide to leave your job, remember you are doing this for now, not forever. As a mother who stayed at home twenty years I never believed that there would be a place for me if I wished to return. I was very wrong. There are huge choices still there for me, as there will be for you, be it in two, five, or fifteen years.
Finally my advice to anyone staying at home is to make a life for themselves outside the home. A house can be a lonely and claustrophobic place, and you will be a much happier mother if you can find time to get away, even one evening a week. Try to go out with friends, or to a gym, or a class, whatever would interest you. Staying at home can make us feel like no one can look after this baby like we can. Well from past experience I can tell you, they can. Maybe not quite as efficiently as you did, but well enough. I think it is important to never forget, we are more than our babies’ mother.
Tric, what stopped me in my tracks in your interview was one sentence, “I think the future definitely looks bright for mothers”
I’ve never heard anyone say that before. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but just hearing it said was, for me, very uplifting and inspiring. We focus a lot on the tough parts – the fact that it’s so difficult to get back into the workforce after time out, the fact that so many employers don’t allow flexible working, and that so many mothers are feeling torn and guilty. We don’t celebrate the good stuff enough, or look at how things have improved. Maybe we’re all too busy to stop and realise that it’s not all bad! And it reminds me of a great recent post by Elizabeth, about the joy of working – we forget that too.
I think what you said about having something outside the home is so important – there are lots of women who want to keep working, but for some at least, it’s in order to fulfil that need to be something other than (as you say) our “babies’ mother”. It might be work, or it could be something creative, something that helps the community, volunteering, joining the PTA, starting a small business while the kids are in school – obviously it’s different for each person, but I completely agree with you on how important it is to have “something”.
And thank you for the reassurance that it is possible to take time out and get back in – I think a lot of us need reminding of that.
For anyone reading this who is not familiar with Tric’s blog, check it out – she’s the wise woman of the Irish Parenting Bloggers group and has a beautiful way with words: My Thoughts on a Page.