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Right after my third child the questions started coming: “will you want to work again?” I nodded my head every time. When Tjelle was one and a half years old, I went back to work. Now, pregnant with baby number four, most questions seem to be rhetorical: “But with four children you won’t work anymore, right?” I smile and say “Yes indeed I will!”
I love my children. I love being a mother. I believe that nothing in my life has made me as happy and content in quite the same way. But: I have ideas and ideals that have nothing to do with my children. Sometimes they are inspired by my children, but they are mine alone. And I want to put them into action.
One day I might have an idea of how to teach third graders the past tense in an even better way, and can’t wait to try it out. The next day I might have a great idea for a lesson about Vincent van Gogh. Frequently in my mind I have ideas for good blog posts, themes that inspire me and others. In the middle of the night I might have a great idea for a DIY project that has a wow factor. Everything that needs to come out should, regardless of how many children are playing or sleeping at my feet.
Every now and then I like to talk about things that have absolutely nothing to do with my home or my children. I like to give tips on how concerned parents can support their children better with their homework. I enjoy discussing with agencies about beautiful and meaningful new products. I like to speak with colleagues, who think of me as Claudia instead of “so and so’s mother” (like all other mothers in the kindergarten). In short: I am a mother, but I am so much more. And I love it.
When Femibion approached me a while ago and asked if I wanted to take part in their M+ campaign, that wants to give women the courage to believe it’s possible to combine work and family, I immediately said yes. I initially found out about Femibion via the food supplement products that I took for each one of my pregnancies, from the very beginning right through to breastfeeding. (The campaign has a short film that emphasizes how motherhood and career don’t need to be mutually exclusive. I don’t know if it’s to do with my hormones, but I found the film very touching.)
I work for so many reasons, one of those is entirely banal: for money. I like to earn my own money and I want to contribute to the mortgage on our house, because it’s mine and Andrè’s (just like our dirty laundry and overloaded dishwasher). It feels good and right. I think it’s nice to have the opportunity to finance extra music classes for my children, or our holidays, or a proper garden.
I don’t think that only my husband and I can teach our children the important things in life. I think it’s good that my children (at least from 1.5 years onwards) have teachers, carers, and other children, who teach them new things and guide them along the way- show them other ways of living. Who sometimes swear, or complain, or are mean and stupid (not just mama). They all help my children to become open, confident, and interesting people. It’s also for this reason that I send my children to daycare and kindergarten.
I am happy when I see that when my children play, the mother also goes to work. When they proudly say to others that their mother is a teacher and writes stories. I find it lovely that they can see how I have a passion for what I do, that I am fascinated and inspired by things (let’s face it, the dirty laundry and dishwasher rarely inspire me).
And no, it’s not always easy. Some days, I want to throw in the towel. Spend my mornings in peace with the dirty laundry (and a midday nap in the garden). Meet with other mothers in the evenings, instead of correcting essays or folding clothes until midnight. Not be so exhausted or tired, or have to plan weeks in advance, so that I can go to a conference and make sure all the children are looked after when I’m away.
But: as much as I love my children, and as much as I love being a mother, that alone would not make me happy in the long run. I can pay more attention, build castles, encourage and play in the afternoons, if I have worked on my ideas in the mornings. If I’ve been Claudia for a few hours, and not just mama. I am simply a better mother in the afternoon, if I go to work in the mornings.
Of course I am aware that there are families and women for whom it is better to stay home. Who maybe don’t have the capacity or energy to crack on. Women, who are happy in their role as mothers and make sure their children feel that. I think, we envy each other sometimes, those women and me. But the most important thing, is that when it comes to being a mother there is no right or wrong for me. Even when I passionately advocate that it’s possible to have a career and children, I think your life model should feel right for five out of seven days in the week. Then it’s all fine.
And you? What’s your perspective? What have your experiences been with work and family?
All the best