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Why blogging can give you the horn

3 Dec

Orange rhino

I need to ask you to allow me to navel gaze. Why I’m asking permission, I’m not sure, after all blogging is a self-indulgent activity. I put my thoughts on the screen and expect you to (a) read them and (b) find them interesting – (b) doesn’t naturally follow (a) but thank you anyway.  Lately, I’ve been wondering  why I bother blogging. I don’t have a massive following and I certainly don’t get nominated for bloggy awards. My posting is, at the best of times, sporadic as I favour the ‘waiting for inspiration’ approach where a post is slowly stewed and then finally emitted as an enormous, post-roast dinner belch. So why do I feel the need to write?

I’ve not been proud of myself recently. I’ve become more than a bit shouty with the kids. Having read this superb article by The Orange Rhino I now consider myself in rehab but it has led to some soul searching as to where my throat-shredding volume (and shameful lack of patience) has come from. Digging around inside my cranky old brain, I eliminated PMT, the kids being on the slippery slope to ASBOs (they’re generally quite sweet) and any other stress-inducing factors I was immediately aware of. What had turned me into a fishwife? What had changed? And then it struck me that the onset of foulness commenced around the same time I left the comfort of my office job and went freelance.

Ah, freelancing! Working when you want, having a midday nap, endless coffee and cake, having no sustained adult conversation. HAVING NO SUSTAINED ADULT CONVERSATION?! I’d struck psycho gold. I have no one to listen to me for the bulk of the day so when the kids come home and they don’t chuffin’ listen to me either then the frustration builds until it pops. Through no fault of their own, they have become vinegar to my bicarbonate of soda. There has been lots of fizzing and quite often a big explosion. Add into that chemical reaction my having embarked on a whole new and uncertain career, spoon in a lump of the sense that I’m not yet quite where I want  to be and it’s a recipe for psychological/emotional/parenting  disaster. This wasn’t a side effect of freelancing that I’d anticipated having a problem with. Unpaid invoices – yes. Lack of crazy watercooler chat – no.

Don’t feel sorry for my children. I’m well on the road to being an Orange Rhino. Does this child look unhappy? Guitar glasses

But what has this got to do with why I want write? I’ve realised that since becoming freelance I’ve done very little blogging – perhaps even less than usual. My voice (small as it may be) has stopped being heard in the virtual as well as the real world. Whilst I can’t rent a mob to come and sit around my laptop and recreate an office environment (eek, but do I want one?), I can keep on communicating via blogging. Really, that’s not as sad and lonely as it sounds. It might put an end to my chats with the goldfish. And talking of animals, writing might just stop me being an almighty cow. If that’s all I get from blogging then that’s good enough for me.



All change please!

29 Aug

Life changes

A few months back I made a momentous decision. I decided to leave the company where I had worked for 12 years (ie since I was young) and set sail on the choppy seas of being a freelance. This is my first week of living that decision. Whilst my head is spinning and I’m rattling between excitement and fear, sometimes you just have to grab life with two hands and have a bit of a tussle.

Since the brood arrived, I’ve always worked: full-time after my first then part-time after my second. I never really considered not working (aside from if I won the lottery obviously). I know that I don’t have the patience or organisational skills to be a stay-at-home-parent – and lashings of credit to those that do. It wasn’t until after my second child was born that I started to have pangs about missing out on spending more time with my rapidly growing kids. When we started to look at primary schools last year it suddenly struck me that the school years were really, truly, frighteningly close. No longer was I simply looking backwards at what I achingly thought I had already missed but I was suddenly conscious of what I might miss in the future.

Although I know most people manage it, the thought of having to organise pre- and after-school care for my eldest filled me with horror. I realised how important it is to me to be able to drop my daughter off (and pick her up of course – really, what kind of parent do you think I am?!) and to be there to help with reading and homework. Perhaps I am too idealistic. In reality I may end up cursing the school run, scuttling away from the gates because I can’t fit into skinny jeans or because another mother has looked at me in a funny way. Visions of sitting at the kitchen table doing sums together may turn out to be running battles over the TV remote and whether it’s okay to substitute a packet of Haribos in place of tea. Do you know what though? If I don’t try then I will never find out. Life is too short.

Continuing my current career as a freelance allows the flexibility I need as my daughter skips off into the education machine without a backward glance at me. Her brother will follow her in two years’ time but until then I am looking forward to spending more one-to-one time with him – something he hasn’t had over the last two years. He will continue to go to nursery three days a week to give me some ‘work time’. I believe strongly that nursery is a great social environment for children and that my two have benefited enormously from it. Yet I still struggle with the guilt that I should be doing that job, especially now I have opted to work from home, and wonder whether advocating nursery simply serves to make myself feel better. When I drop my son off at nursery and return home to my desk I know I will feel an overwhelming urge to go back and get him and wrap him in my arms (gorgeous little chunk that he is). It seems that parental guilt is never ending even when you’re aiming to do the best for everyone.

Now I just have to persuade my husband that it isn’t acceptable to guffaw when I say I’ve been working. But that’s another post and another strain of guilt entirely …

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