Those who follow me on Instagram may have seen that Ottie and I spent yesterday afternoon at Petersham Nurseries with a couple of my ex-colleagues. One- Georgia, is only a couple of years older than me, and the other, Jonny is 60…with a newborn (I know, good on him)!! His son was born a month after Ottilie. I’ve always got on really well with both of them, particularly, perhaps, with Jonny. He sat opposite me for a while and we got to know each other really well. Jonny joked that the working world was ‘never really for’ me. He jests that I’m a ‘lady of leisure’ and that he had never heard someone sigh so much, or have a brow so furrowed as mine on my first day of work. That’s not strictly true (and doesn’t paint me in the best light!), but he is right about one thing- I am much, much happier at home with Ottilie. I know that this is perhaps a naive thing to say because probably 90% of people in my situation would be too… but he commented that his partner is already gagging (I love this verb) to get back to work. So why aren’t I? I like to be busy, I hate to be bored, I need to be mentally stimulated…but I’ve never been happier than I am now pootling around with my baby. **
I think the issue is mostly that I hate feeling like I am underselling myself, wasting the money my parents spent on schooling me, not living up to my potential. It’s not so much what people think about me, but more so that I don’t want to let down the people that I care about who have high expectations of me. Obviously I could never really let my family down, and all that they could ask for is that I’m happy… but I mean specifically expectations in the commercial, conventional sense.
I voiced my concerns to Jonny and Georgia and Jonny made a really obvious, but really reassuring and true statement. When I said something to the effect of not wanting to waste my brain, he simply said, ‘who says that working is making the most of it?’ He said that although he works (as a successful copywriter), he feels that he engages/fulfils/utilises his brain/intelligence OUTSIDE of the workplace- through learning to play the drums, reading books, telling stories. Suddenly it all made sense.
My academic career peaked at A-levels when I got A*A*A* (ironically I just spelt ‘academic’ with two c’s) and up until now that probably was my biggest achievement generally as well. However NOW that title has been massively usurped by having my daughter. That will forever and ever be my greatest achievement, only matched by having more kiddiwinks.
Until I know what I want to do, or where I want to go in my current company that I’m on maternity leave from, I’m not going to stress that I’m ‘not reaching my potential’. I am reaching my potential by being the best mother and as happy as I can be. My potential is not a lonely figure sitting around in the empty cavern that is my skull, twiddling its thumbs as a dustball rolls by- I’m reaching it every day in doing the things that I love and cultivating my daughter. For now, that’s all I need and it’s where I’m meant to be.
**I am superstitious and so now believe that I have tempted fate and will end up in a pool of misery to serve me right for being so optimistic.