Time to be a sitting duck. - CJ Photography
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Time to be a sitting duck.

Time to be a sitting duck.

After a fortnight of family commitments, including a kitchen renovation (yaaaay!), not a lot of photography has taken place business-wise.  But as usual there’s plenty around me to stimulate the blog-ho-lic in me.

In the last fortnight alone I’ve talked to three separate mothers who have come to the cross roads of motherhood and career and the infamous juggling act this presents. I talk here of just my experience and fully appreciate that it may not relate to everyone but I think at some level we all share one thing: a battle to satisfy ME, the person that gets lost amongst all the selflessness that is motherhood.

Before kids, all I had to think of was ME. If we were to use Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, all bottom tiers of the pyramid were sorted:  I was breathing, clothed, fed, HAD SLEEP (!! Oh boy oh boy, I miss those days so much I could cry…), felt financially and professionally secure, was loved, had my family sorted with my husband and two dogs – sweet!  I was even on track for meeting the top tiers of Esteem and Self-actualization through my career and every other endeavor my ample time chose to undertake for ME.

Then when you’re hit with your first child…. S@##&$ !!  Your world of rules and order takes a ridiculous overhaul and for the first time in your life you have no instructions, no job description, no constructive feedback and trial and error becomes your only ‘strategy’.  You really have to wade through all the layers of conditioning and dig deep to connect with the primal and instinctive side of you as a mother and human being and TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHY THIS BABY IS CRYING !!!!!!

Everything becomes very basic and honest.  Your days are longer but slower paced. You’ve gone from 10-hour days jam packed with meetings, tele-conferences, presentations and performance reviews to 20-hour days of feeding, laundry, nappies and, well, child rearing. Crisis Management takes a whole new meaning in the context of tantrums, toilet training and trips to the supermarket.  Even the sitting around watching your child’s fascination with a plastic spoon becomes the important as we track how their development skills are progressing. We’re back to the bottom tier of Maslow’s Pyramid again except now it has taken a much wider platform with the additional family member. As a result all the upper tiers become more distant, hazy, and essentially luxurious.

It is then no wonder that going back to an office environment and putting up with all the inevitable office politics, becomes unbearable. Everything your mind and body have adjusted to has been to deal with the basic, the real, the simple, the IMPORTANT.  And then to have to tow the company line, to sugar coat language to appease staff and clients and to small talk your way through networking sessions becomes a hollow existence, compared to where you’ve just come from. Something simple as doing up a resume and selling yourself becomes unnatural. Those top tiers of ‘Esteem’ and ‘Self-actualization’ have now shifted to include a more authentic existence that takes into mind your little ones as well.

So what can satisfy ME but still remain faithful to me as a mother? It is TRULY, TRULY a hard balance. Afterall many women, don’t have a choice and have to go back to their former jobs.  For others, it’s a confidence issue – “but I’ve been out of the workforce for so long” while for others, just people’s expectations about their comeback to the workforce alone are off-putting. It’s like there’s an expectation of big things when women returns to work, as if becoming a mother wasn’t big enough.  I made the mistake of agreeing to contract when my first boy was only 4 months, mostly because I felt that was the right thing to do by my former colleagues. Needless to say, that didn’t last.  Every time I would embark on something because I thought it would be successful, it would be a very short-lived venture. For once, sheer determination and ambition would not be enough.  I would also need my heart in it to make it work.  I would need for it to be honest.

So all I can say to those women who are going through this is … hang in there. A naturopath I saw once gave me good advice. You need to take this time out for yourself to re-discover yourself.  You need to invest in things that make you happy and not expect anything back from it. You need to nourish your soul and not evaluate the return on investment through monetary means. Do not put a time limit on this period of self-discovery.  It could take months, it could take years.  You just have to let go. The sooner you let go of the constraints, the quicker you will find peace.

Becoming a mother is truly an epic change – it’s ok, not to be able to succeed according to the standards you set yourself in your former life. You now have a new life to succeed in.

So if you are feeling lost, this photo I took in February is for you: it’s time you became a ‘sitting duck’ like I was for many months and see what comes your way.  Let life wash over you and see what catches your fancy. Explore, enjoy, indulge. It may be a confusing time, but it’s also a uniquely important time. The truer you are to yourself now, the happier you will be in the future.


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