M is five weeks old tomorrow. So I'm going back to work.
No, I haven't gone insane, I'm just self-employed. And it's not as bad as it sounds. It's only one day a week, and it won't even be for the full day, but I do feel that I need to keep my hand in, my face known and my brain ticking over, or I won't have a client left when I do go back. And given that I only have one client, even if that client is my former employer, I kind of need to keep in with them.
So I'm not complaining. Much.
Actually I'm not complaining at all. I don't have to do this. The government very kindly gives me £120 a week not to work, and by choosing to work, I'm going to lose that (or at least I am after ten days of working), so I'm not doing this lightly. I'm doing it because I like my job and because I am incredibly lucky to have it. My client has supported (and indeed made possible) a move to Scotland and is continuing to support my career, even if I'm not technically employed by them any more. I get to work when I like and for as long as I like; I'm averaging about eight hours a week at the moment, which I get to do from the comfort of my own home, and it pays me enough to keep me in breastpads and floortiles...
So I am unbelievably lucky. I am out of the rat race. I no longer have to juggle. I don't have to make apologies to my colleagues for leaving early and to the nursery for arriving late, or take holiday when someone has chicken pox, or have my heart broken when someone else falls over and calls out the nanny's name rather than my own. I don't have to feel like my entire life is a compromise any more.
But then last week I found something out.
I have only had one real job in my life. I started on 10 September 2001, a new trainee solicitor with seven others. Of the eight of us, only three, including myself, are left with any connection to the firm.
And last week the other two were made partners.
That could have been me. That should have been me. I am as good a lawyer as either of them. I could have had that badge, that validation to the outside world that I am good at my job, that I have a brain and I'm not afraid to use it.
It could have been me. I could have stayed in the jungle of the juggle. I could, like the one of the other two who is also a woman, have dashed back to work early after maternity leave to prove my commitment. I could have stopped at one child. I could have remained in our little house in London. I could have stayed late at work to schmooze, to network, to bring in business. I could have written articles in my spare time, and got my name known and my face recognised.
I could have been a contender.
But I'm not. And I won't ever be. And the thing is I didn't, and don't, want to be. I made a decision to step away from that life, and I did it with my eyes open. I didn't want to be that person, and I didn't want to do any of those things. I looked at the future, at the prospect of that life and I decided that it wasn't for me. And I know that that was, and is, the right decision for us.
So why am I still just a little bit miffed?
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