My babies are getting freakishly big now, so I often feel like the baby days are well behind me and my life is totally different. But now my sister has a baby, and spending time with them has made me realise that while many things have changed since over the last few years, some things are now surprisingly similar. It seems having a baby is actually a pretty good preparation for freelance life:
I find myself saying really surreal things – Back then it was, amongst other things, “Put Mammy’s tampons down and play with your caterpillar”. Now it’s (genuine excerpt from a Messenger conversation with a client this week, posted with her permission) “Pussy? I don’t mind the odd ‘between my legs/thighs’. Or you can often get away with just ‘I’ if the context is clear.”
I don’t always brush my hair – Now, I know there are many people who work from home, and many new mothers for that matter, who take great pride in their appearance at all times. I am not one of those people, now or then. Brushing my hair and wearing trousers that actually have fastenings are once again optional extras in my life, and for this I am grateful.
I go a long time between conversations with real live adults – Thank heavens for the school run. Those other parents are often the only adults I talk to who aren’t married to me. It does remind me of spending long, lonely days with people who hadn’t mastered the English language yet. Although, now I think about it, there probably were more conversations with adults back then. It’s just they were always about poo.
I have a lot of internet friends – When my children were small, I had something of a parenting forum addiction. I did eventually have to go cold turkey because it was taking up a ridiculous amount of my life, but the friendships I made there were real, and the source of so much support. Now I have my online edibuddies, and they are just as wonderful and knowledgeable and downright fun to chat with. We probably talk a little less about breastfeeding though. And then only to argue about whether it has a hyphen in.
I feel completely crushed under a massive weight of overwhelming responsibility pretty much all the time – Oh my God. What am I supposed to do? How do I keep this thing alive? I have to make so many decisions. I’m going to fuck this up and ruin EVERYTHING. I had those thoughts constantly when my girls were babies. Well, just the first one, if I’m honest. By the second I was too busy making sure the bigger one wasn’t trying to feed her raisins. And now, with my business, which by now is probably a toddler who can be relied upon to stay on its feet most of the time but still isn’t quite toilet trained, I find myself asking them again. It’s all on me to get this right, and sometimes the sheer worry of that is so exhausting.
But you’ve just got to keep on keeping on – Because just like back then, there was no opting out. Things needed to be done, so I did them. I didn’t get everything perfectly right with my babies, and I’m not going to get everything right with my business. But whether you’re a parent or a business owner, you keep moving forward, because you have to. You help them grow, you learn from the mistakes you make while doing it, and, hopefully, in a few years’ time, you look back on this incredible thing you made and feel like you could burst with pride.