Imagine being independent, financially content, working at a job you are proud of, with people who are your friends. Then one day it’s over. You have no job, no money and little contact with your friends. Oh and you also have a newborn baby, who came without instructions and with no way of removing batteries.
Life changes so completely when you give birth that no book in the world can prepare you.
I was relatively young and living far from home when I had my first baby. I always knew I’d be a stay at home mother but never really understood what that would really mean.
Life as a stay at home mother is difficult in so many ways. It is isolating, lonely, frustrating and tiring. However it is more than that. For many, leaving paid employment and becoming a busy mother, may be what they wanted to do for their family, but in my case it meant loss of independence and loss of self.
I think if I am to be honest I shrank a small bit during those years. I knew I was a good mother, but no matter what anyone said, I could not be proud of my role. I talked the talk about it being a job in itself, but believed none of it.
Then two little girls joined my own growing family. I became a childminder. I had a small income, and an actual title. I should have felt better but in fact I felt worse.
I hated telling anyone I was a childminder. I was embarrassed. It was once again a role I took no pride in, but a role I loved very much. I continued to mind those two little ladies for many years and to this day they hold a special place in my heart.
Last weekend I was away for the night. We were at a very large function with almost three hundred people attending. There were many speeches and then the entertainment began. Up on stage went a stunning twenty two year old. She was wearing a green lace dress and looked so beautiful. She was the eldest of the two little ladies I had minded.
As she sang confidently and beautifully, I could hear the voices around me rich in praise of her. Then it hit me. Right in the middle of her rendition of “She moves through the fair”. I knew what it was I was feeling. I was proud. So very proud of the wonderful young woman she had become, but also so proud to have played a part in helping her through childhood.
So proud to have been her childminder.
As I think of her and her wonderful younger sister, of the fun I had with them and how much they enhanced my life and the lives of my own children, I can at last stand tall and announce proudly to the world, “I was a childminder”.