Like a lot of contract workers, temps, or professional freelancers, I didn t have a job to go back to when my eldest was born four years ago. I have to admit to not caring at the time of going on maternity leave, since I couldn t wait to put my feet up for a whole year, maybe take-up baking and crafts and be all wholesome and homely. When reality hit me round the face with a massive spade, coincidentally about the time my stat mat payments were coming to an end, the sad realisation dawned on me that it was no longer feasible to commute into London for work anymore. The care-free lifestyle I d taken for granted before-child would no longer be possible after work drinks, going to the gym, or spunking 100 in Topshop, just because I felt like it and it had been more than a week since my last fix. The kind of indulgent but mental-health saving stuff I did when work stressed me out would be no more. Then you ve got the actual pain-in-the-arse can t avoid reasons, rendering efforts to make it to nursery by closing time virtually impossible; an unavoidable deadline, having to wait for a call, getting stuck in a meeting, or delayed on a slow-moving train with bogey-picking men in suits.
So I set up as a sole trader to do some freelance writing work, a decision I didn t take lightly, but one I ve largely not regretted over the past four years, though I will freely admit there are times when you question yourself and fantasise about a having a secure, permanent source of income. This happened quite recently; I was going through a period of self-doubt, had a bit of a mental wobble and applied for some jobs I didn t really want so I could look like a more useful, contributing member of society to the people who ask what I do for a living. I got an interview for one, which went badly. Don t worry about it, forget this ever happened , said the woman who interviewed me and was now stuck in the lift with my apologetic ramblings, delivering me safely back to reception where she could make sure I was leaving the building. Somehow, and I really don t know how, I got a call to go back for a second interview. I can only assume they d got me mixed up with someone else, or they fancied a few shits and giggles at my expense. My instinct told me not to bother. I d f*cked up once and couldn t take the embarrassment of a replay. They d made it clear there was no flexibility to work from home, change hours or days of working and deep down I knew this job wasn t for me.
It was a commute to north London (I live in Kent), which would make my mornings (and afternoons) hell as I pictured the reality of struggling with school and nursery drop offs. But I saw this job and became a bit in love with the idea of having a proper job to go to again it would tick the working mother box just nicely. I romanticised about having a nice sleep on the train, drinking a cup of coffee while still hot, top-quality watercooler bants about last night s TV, a lunch hour to shop, read the Huffington Post, or just eat something that s not toddler food debris. I had it all planned: I would be a glamourous Zara-clad mum, no whiff of a Choices bargain here, and everyone would say that there s no way I m a middle-aged mum of two, how can she be, she s so cool, I hope I look like that when I ve had kids , they ll all say. But nah, I mucked it all up. They asked me quite a normal question, what s your greatest achievement? I ve had loads over the years, gotten PR stories to front pages, ghost-written stuff for important people, but all I could think about were the big happy smiles and beautiful eyes of my two lovely boys. Having my two sons is how I replied. Because it s true. We experienced enough personal heartache on the way to parenthood and raising our kids remains the biggest, funniest, heart-melting, at-times-patience-destroying challenge of my life. Everything else pales into insignificance. Course, I can t say that was the nail in the job coffin for the four nice people sitting across the desk, but it was certainly my reason for wanting out of there. It didn t feel right for me, talking to these strangers about my children, being so far away if one of them was sick and I had to get back in a hurry. In a way, it was a relief to not get the job.
So for now, I think I m sticking to the freelancing gig. Right now, I m director of domestic logistics (housewife), while I continue the painstaking task of trying to find work that fits in the two days a week the littlest family member attends nursery. I m lucky enough to get paid for what I love doing and have a patient husband who supports the path I ve chosen. It s just a bit slow-going sometimes and I hate having to explain to other mums at the school gates, who are off to an office, that I haven t got work today some feel sorry for me, I can just tell (though I appreciate my perceived failure is probably only in my head), while others have said I m lucky. And I spose I am; when I get a commission, I get to do it from home, in my lounge-wear, without the distractions of office politics (though some TV banter really wouldn t go amiss). And I m available for my kids at the drop of a hat, a privilege that you really can t put a price on and I by no means take for granted. If there was a tick-box for I m not working today, but I do work, just not conventional hours, and I only want a permanent job if fits in with my family, and yes I feel guilty that my husband works all hours instead , I d be in that one. For now though, the Zara office-wear splurge remains an online shopping basket wish list.
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15:11 02 July 2015 The Potter Logistics team receiving the Haulier of the Year award at the Motor Transport Awards. Archant Haulage business Potter Logistics, which has a distribution centre in Ely, has won a handful of national awards. The firm, in its 50th year, was named Motor Transport Awards Haulier of the Year 2015.
Then, at the UKWA Awards, colleagues were awarded Warehouse Manager of the Year, Young Employee of the Year and the Chairman s Award. Warehouse Manager of the Year was Scott Wallace, Young Employee of the Year was Joe Jackson part and the Chairman s Award went to founder and executive chairman Derrick Potter. The Motor Transport Awards judges said of Potter Logistics: The company had put in a strong financial performance and had good control over all aspects of its business.
It was a family business with a customer driven ethos, offered comprehensive training and took a flexible, innovative approach.
Matthew Lamb, Potter s managing director, said: Today has been a fantastic day for Potter Logistics, not only have we won the two awards at the UKWA awards but also winning Motor Transport Awards Haulier of the Year.
These awards are recognised within the industry as the awards that confirm the professionalism and commitment of our staff who put the hard work into ensuring the highest of standards are kept.
10:00 03 July 2015 Paul Geater 1 Tom Gondris with his wife Pat after getting the MBE in 2009. As tributes flowed in to the British Schindler , a former Suffolk businessman who was on his last Kinder Transport train out of Prague has spoken of his gratitude to the man who saved his life. Tom Gondris was a nine-year-old Czech child who spoke hardly a word of English when he was put on the train to Holland and the ferry to Harwich in 1939.
Mr Gondris journey from Prague to Britain was funded by family friends, so he was not included on the official list of 669 Winton Children who were found sponsors by Sir Nicholas, who died on Wednesday, aged 106. But he is in no doubt about the importance of the man who saved so many children. Mr Gondris said: If he had not been there, if he had not organised the trains, I would not have survived.
I owe him my life. His parents, whom he waved goodbye to at Prague station, left their homeland and made their way to Poland in a bid to catch a boat to Britain to meet up with their son. But the German and Russian invasion of Poland, and the start of the war, prevented that from happening.
Mr Gondris said: I hoped to see them again, but in the end that did not happen. All the children who had escaped from the Nazis were offered British citizenship after the war. Mr Gondris did National Service during the Suez campaign and became a successful businessman in Ipswich.
During the 1960s and 1970s he was also a Labour councillor. All my life was made possible by Sir Nicholas, he said. I never met him but I became aware of what he had done.
In 2009 the 70th anniversary of the Kinder Transport was marked by the running of a special train from Prague to the Hook of Holland and then from Harwich to Liverpool Street. At Liverpool Street there was an official reception hosted by the British Government and the Czech Embassy. The government representative was then Ipswich MP Chris Mole who was a transport minister.
He said: I travelled from Harwich on the special steam train on that day. I met some of those who had been saved by Sir Nicholas. He really was a remarkable man.
Sir Nicholas was at Liverpool Street to meet the train with members of his family and had the opportunity to meet again some of the children he had saved.
References ^ Paul Geater (www.eadt.co.uk)