I want to break free

There’s no two ways about it: I want to go back to work. I don’t mean actual work of course; Working 9 to 5 (who ever finishes at 5, anyway?) in some grey office doing the bidding of a boss I can’t stand has never been my strong point and that’s not about to change. And I have a degree to start thinking about in January which will eat up large quantities of time I’m sure. No, I don’t mean I want a job…I mean what I said – I want to work. And I think I’ve finally figured out why I’ve flitted between so many different careers all these years – administrator, manager, writer, theatre practitioner, teacher: so I can do virtually anything on a need-to-work basis whilst remaining resolutely uncommitted to anyone except myself. In posh terms, I believe one would use the term ‘Freelancer’.


Dear patronising Worker Bees: Despite being a stay at home mum for three years, both sides of my brain are working just fine, thank you (Photo credit: TZA)

Of course the word ‘Freelancer’ is partly composed of the word ‘free’ which has several meanings. ‘Free’ can mean uninhibited, or unpaid. So let me be clear. I want to be paid. I don’t want to compromise on the time with my son but I would really like to earn my own money again and feel like I’m making a contribution to wider world once more. And despite my adoring fanbase whom I truly appreciate for all their kind words and encouragement, I am not making it a better place just sitting here faffing about with a blog. Nor is it earning me beans to buy shoes or birthday presents for my husband, who with the best will in the world must be slightly bored with his ‘surprise’ gifts turning up on the credit card.

And that’s the crux of the matter. Never mind that thing about having to use my brain again – despite evidence to the contrary, I use my brain almost all the time, every day. I have plenty to keep me busy and I’m not desperate for company, so whereas I thought I would eventually return to work to be around people again, this is not the reason. No, the reason is I want to have some earning power again, no matter how small. It has great meaning, to be able to earn your own money. It is synonymous with freedom and even the smallest amount would change how I feel. Some of it is about me, of course. I want to buy that dress I saw that would be perfect for Christmas without it appearing on a Mastercard statement for my husband to torture me with. But most of it is about pride, and achievement, and just the very basic happiness that can be derived from buying something with money you worked for. For example, I’d like to take my husband out to dinner and actually pay rather than ‘pretend pay’ with money that he gave me in the first place. I’d like to treat my son. I’d like to send myself flowers, and maybe send them to other people too, to make them happy and because I can. It’s not the stuff mortgages are made of but it’s the little things that I’m tired of not being able to do without relying on someone else to pay for it.

Not working is a curious state of mind. It is not easy to not work. If you’re not careful you start to lose respect for yourself at approximately the same speed that everyone else does. People that work don’t understand that people who do not have lives that are just as challenging. We do all the stuff the people that work don’t have time to do, but that add a little love into the world, like baking cakes or going to sports days or being on the PTA committee or keeping the house standing. Not all of it is fun and there are days when I wish I was in an office with a boss I don’t like, just so that I didn’t have to wait in for the electrician or look after a sick child. But a lot of it is fun, and valuable, and irreplaceable. I would not want to give up the time I have with my son when it’s just us and no-one else, nor would I want to watch the house disintegrate into chaos as a result of me resuming a full time career. And as an expat, I would not want a mere four weeks of holiday to take to see family and friends on two continents, nor would I want to be reliant on a housemaid to look after my child every day because I am not there.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about ‘having it all’ and struggled to find peace with only having ‘some’. I believe there is a balance and the more people I meet the more I understand what the balance is and how to achieve it. The next step is to actually do it. So that’s what I’m concentrating on now, to make the most of the many strings on my bow, new skills and old ones, and get out there and work them. I believe I will get there.