This morning I went to Oxford to meet up with a prospective client. He had emailed last week, after being given our details by someone I used to work with (as in so many areas, while you do need to know things, it’s also incredibly useful to know someone, as well), to see if I could come and have a chat.
I wasn’t about to say no to the possibility of lots (or even some) work, but my first instinct was to take Eleanor with me, and bring Chris or my mum to push her round/sit in a cafe with her while I was in the actual meeting. That’s what I would have done three years ago. There is no way that I would have considered going as far as Oxford, or even Cheltenham, without Rosemary when she was 5 weeks old. Because I was a new mum and panicked about everything. I didn’t let anyone else take Rosemary out in her buggy without me until she was six months, so I would hardly have gone off
gallivantingworking for half a day.
But… I realised, last week, that I didn’t technically need to bring Eleanor along. She takes a bottle with no problem and tends to have some formula every day. I’d be able to feed her in the morning, then again when I got back. It’s even possible she wouldn’t need any more in between. And then I realised that I was a lot more laid back this time round – we often leave Eleanor alone when she’s sleeping (with the baby monitor on), we will let her cry for a bit (while getting the warm water for a nappy change, in her buggy while putting Rosemary’s coat on, etc.) rather than picking her up the very second she opens her mouth – and that I’d probably be OK to leave her for the 6.5 hours that I would be gone from the house.
And I was OK. In fact, I really enjoyed it. It was a beautiful day, which probably helped. I played my new DS game on the way there and read my book on the way back. I had a latte and pain au chocolate in the morning and a brie, tomato and basil baguette and bottle of coke on the way back. I eavesdropped on conversations on the train – such fun. I walked through an area of Oxford I love, where I used to live and where I would love to live again some day. I wore make-up and smart clothes – well, actually, I wore the same clothes I wear all the time, because they’re comfortable and, well, they fit. Oh yes, and the meeting went very well and looks like it should lead to a fair bit of work in the coming months.
On the way back, I had a bit of a revelation. It struck me that I could actually cope with going out to work. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing, of course, and working from home works really well for us. But occasionally I’ll leaf through the Guardian or Bookseller job pages and might light on a job that would actually be perfect for me. And then I think there’s no point in even considering it, because I couldn’t possibly work away from home. That’s not who I am. But, you know, maybe that could be me. If the right job came up.
Of course, the right job would need to pay something in the region of £100,000, so that Chris could be a stay-at-home dad and a really nice house, allow me to work flexitime, so I wouldn’t miss breakfast and dinner with my girls, allow me time off in the school holidays, so I could spend lots of time with my girls, be located within a 45-minute public transport commute (or somewhere we would happily move to), and be something that would engage and challenge me and allow me to use my creativity and not make me to take orders from too many people…
But the important thing is that I know I could do it. Even more important (and fortunate) is that I don’t have to.
What about you? Could you do it? Do you already? Have you become more laid back with your second child? Would you like to go out to work and have your partner stay at home?