A period of mourning?

4th June 2013 17 Comments

The other night I was watching a television programme presented by a female archaeologist when the hubby reminded me that in the dim and distance past I actually went for  a screen test for  job she got in television. At the time I had just had a baby and was a bit bedraggled, struggling with PND and not thinking all that clearly, I was a bit half hearted about whether I wanted the job or not. That’s the story of my life, with the one exception of a job which I really wanted, still want, would pay to do and probably won’t ever get.

The thing is, I haven’t really been satisfied with my lot in life since I’ve had children. When I was a child I used to dream of my adventures in archaeology and in my day I had a few, finding some amazing things and working on sites which people within the profession can only dream about nowadays. Having a child and settling down changed all that, I got stuck  in a museum in a job which wasn’t challenging after a while. It was hard to move around  because of family commitments and so jobs were a bit limited. However there was the occasional thing to peak my interest and I developed new interests, mainly in historic costume.

I have come to realise that having children for me meant the end to my world as I knew it. I cant go off digging, I can’t do a museum job (even though I was once tipped to become a top UK museum director), I can’t really do ‘anything I want’ as I was told when I was a child. Finances are tight, years ago I would have been able to go back to university and ‘find’ myself in academia, now it’s prohibitively expensive, not just the fees but travel and childcare costs to think about. For me, the only thing I need to learn is the quantities for a good cookie mixture.

So what should I do? Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and I think what I actually need is a period of mourning for myself, for what I was, and the hopes dreams and ambitions which will never be realised. I need to come to terms with the fact that having children has thwarted everything I wanted to do and be and try to feel content with life as it is. How I go about doing this is beyond me though.

When I set up this blog there weren’t many UK bloggers and there was no competition, no PR campaigns, no back-stabbing, no cliques. I found something I enjoyed doing and learnt a lot along the way, it filled a space for me. It was a temporary solution. Now, to be honest, I just feel left out of the party. I have a lot of experience to offer people, no-one seems to want it though and I’m losing confidence. It’s the same with school, I find it hard when my children are left out of parties when it seems everyone else is invited and the cliques at the school gates make my life a misery nearly every day. I feel like a little ship adrift on its own. I don’t feel like I fit in, anywhere.

How does one mourn what could have been? Write a book? Set up a blog? As it says on Emily Davidsons grave; ‘Deeds Not Words’ is probably the best way to go about this. I think to myself that this is just a phase, but how does one go about being pro-active with deeds? I have tried really hard recently to de-clutter and get the house in some sort of order. This doesn’t help much as everywhere are reminders of my former life; fossils, pressed plants, old bit of pottery. I know what I can’t do, I can’t get a job in my profession, I can’t have much peace to think without a child handing off me. I don’t really seem to do well with adult relationships, me and the hubby are too tired, never go out and frankly I have nothing to say to any other adult as my children are the focus of my life and I don’t do anything else.

I thought I would snap out of this phase, I took my redundancy hard although I wouldn’t admit it. I am an archaeologist, a museum curator. I am not a mother naturally, it was never my dream to sit at home with children. How does one mourn what might have been? How does one move on?

Claire Walsh

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  • kateab 4th June 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I personally feel that it's much harder to get going with things whilst you have pre-school aged children. Yes, the school run defines your day and school holidays give you logistical headaches but things have moved on for me in the time since Missy started at school. I still don't do what I did before I had kids but I'm happy with what I do. I would say to you to keep trying, don&#39

  • Dan 4th June 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I listened to a podcast recently that talked about the fact that nearly everyone in the world is living their Plan B, and that many of us are onto Plan C, D, and E.<br /><br />I have no answers for you. However kids aren&#39;t going to be young forever, nor will the current economic environment last for ever.<br /><br />My advice would be to set up some sort of small, part time business on the

  • Jax Blunt 4th June 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I think you need to find some space to be yourself in some way, whatever that may be. Otherwise this period of mourning will permeate everything including your relationship with your children. Is there really no way to have a part of your career? Could you downsize house wise, job share, switch things around with Alex? <br /><br />Hugs. You sound like you&#39;re having a really tough time of it.

  • Damson Lane 4th June 2013 at 5:11 pm

    You have some brilliant ideas for things that you can do that still involve the things you love and the skills you have. Choose the idea that inspires you the most and then just go with it. It might not be what you wanted originally but it may take you to places and people you never imagined x

  • Damson Lane 4th June 2013 at 5:12 pm

    You have some brilliant ideas that are in your area of expertise and use the skills you have. Choose the idea that inspires you the most and then just go with it. It may not be what you wanted in your career when you were younger but it could end up taking you to places and people you never thought possible xx

  • Muddling Along 4th June 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I agree wiht Jax – you sounds as if you really need to carve out some time for yourself to mourn, to think, to plan and to decide what next<br /><br />The current economic situation can&#39;t stay around (I really really hope – it is just so grim for so many people) and things have to look up<br /><br />Feels at the moment as if so many people are trapped in the wrong plan let alone having a plan

  • emmajaneoriordan 4th June 2013 at 8:22 pm

    I don&#39;t have any answers but just wanted to send some hugs. Archaeology is probably one of the most un family friendly career choices but noone tells you that before you start out! Flexitime and job sharing are probably unheard of. Reading this post has made me realise that it isn&#39;t just me and although I didn&#39;t have a career for that long I loved it. Sproggle is 6 months and I really

  • emmajaneoriordan 4th June 2013 at 8:23 pm

    P.s love the photo!

  • Gammon & Chips 5th June 2013 at 8:01 am

    I love your honesty in this post! I often feel like this too. I thought being a stay at home mum would be enough for me, but after 2 years of looking after my son (and I now have a 18 month old daughter too), I felt that I needed to get my hand back in. I used to work in advertising agencies which, a bit like archaeology, is very very un-family friendly and impractical, so I thought I was doomed.

  • Clare (MTJAM) 5th June 2013 at 8:49 pm

    I so rarely comment on blogs but I had to say something – it&#39;s such a brave, heartfelt post. There are thousands, maybe millions, of people who feel the way you do, and it is completely acceptable to grieve for the life you thought you were going to have. You may have depression, and it would be worth considering seeing your GP: treatment for any depression won&#39;t of course change your job

  • Clare (MTJAM) 5th June 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Sorry, got cut off :-)<br /><br />Anyway, what I was going to say is that I left my career before I was effectively forced out for putting my children first. I could have stayed in the police, doing made-up part-time roles and watching incompetent peers get promoted above me, but that wasn&#39;t the career I&#39;d signed up for. We couldn&#39;t afford for me to stay at home without working, and I

  • Anonymous 5th June 2013 at 8:55 pm

    I admire your honesty… and as others have said as children get older things do get easier. My 2 are now at school and I work part time during school hours (so not childcare costs term time). I used to have a very highly paid, exciting career in London – and now I don&#39;t – but I still get to use the skills I learned in a small and satisfying way. We can&#39;t have it all – but try to enjoy

  • Sarah May 6th June 2013 at 11:52 am

    I have so much sympathy for this post. When I realised that I wanted to take redundancy last year I was certain that it would mean leaving archaeology and that felt like a tremendous blow. Because its an identity and a community as well as a job. There are fewer and fewer &#39;archaeology&#39; jobs, but there are still jobs that draw on those skills and contribute to those interests in society,

  • Rev Jo Neary 6th June 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I wonder if you see your job as a vocation, a calling. If you aren&#39;t doing what you were made to do then everything else, even three glorious children, will feel second best. So it is fine and indeed right to feel incomplete and bereft, because part of you is missing or perhaps restricted. <br /><br />My suggestions are radical and have already been mentioned . Swap roles with husband,

  • cartside 7th June 2013 at 11:23 am

    I have nothing much to add, I&#39;m sure you&#39;re speaking for lots of people with your words. I always thought that as I grew up I&#39;d lose the sense of not fitting in, but maybe we never quite do. Sometimes though I get glimpses of acceptance and just riding the waves, and it feels good. Have you tried a life coach? I find coaching gives the space to reflect and understand your own feelings

  • Sandy Calico 9th June 2013 at 8:54 am

    Sorry it took me so long to get here, I&#39;m having a marathon blog catch up session.<br /><br />I do understand how you feel. I went from a high flying career to changing nappies. I&#39;d always wanted to be a SAHM, but the reality of my new life was difficult to accept. What helped me was to decide that being a mother was my new job. I could then take ownership of my life.<br /><br />My boys

  • Anonymous 9th June 2013 at 11:39 am

    I imagine how you feel. I work for museum sector, have 3.5 old girl and baby nr 2 due in July. I work part time, I back to work after 9 months and I will do the same this time. I love my job, I am better mum, I enjoy life. It was time I was working for free, saving money on every little bits, only second hand things for myself and children. I am very good with finance and really thinking about

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