“Last time you went on maternity leave you totally changed your entire work life. If you want to do it again you can, and you will”.
This was my husband’s response when I told him I was thinking about changing how I work.
And he’s right.
When I was pregnant with my first, I gave up co-running a very successful performing arts school as I knew it just wouldn’t work for me after becoming a mum. I worked 7 days a week, evenings and weekends and took on school and community projects during the day. The rigorous work schedule just wasn’t gonna fly when a baby was thrown into the mix so I made the tough decision to hand over the reigns to my business partner at the time and take a leap of faith into the unknown world of freelancing.
Becoming a parent really makes you re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t.
After running a business for 5 years I felt like I had enough experience and confidence to build up my own contacts and start something fresh. I’d just finished a contract with a regional dance agency where I’d trained as a disability and integrated dance specialist. I’d absolutely loved it, so decided to pursue this as a viable work option when I went back to work after 6 months maternity leave. (Note: this is a long time to take off in the dance/arts sector, especially as I had no income beyond my Maternity Allowance since handing over the business.)
By chance I saw an advert for an arts worker at a disability-led organisation — I went for the interview and got the job. After my mat leave finished, I started there 1 day a week and now run their performing arts leadership programme as well as performing in a show for audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities. I’m also researching and developing my own solo work in collaboration with the artistic director at the centre. I currently split my time between this role and running dance sessions for older people in the community.
I feel SUPER LUCKY to have found such an amazing place to work and this setup has functioned well for us as a family of 3 but what happens now that we’re soon to be a family of 4? I’m due to return to all my current contracts next February but my husband’s comments have left my head whirring. I could do something completely different. I probably should do something completely different from a creative point of view having been in the same or similar roles for nearly 4 years now. But would another change be a good idea with two kids in tow?
I’m hoping our families will be there for us again when we need them and that I can carry on creating, making and providing.
I’ve never really planned much in terms of my career. I’ve seen what’s come along and gone for opportunities that I think are interesting/exciting/well paid, as is probably the case with a lot of freelancers. But becoming a parent really makes you re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t. So, as baby number two approaches, I’ve decided to take another leap of faith.
I’m keen to point out at this stage that I have an incredibly supportive husband who has a well-paid, steady job plus plenty of childcare available as we live so close to our parents and also my grandparents. Without this support network I just wouldn’t be able to do what I do, pursue what I love and shift and change my career path so frequently. I’ve seen countless friends who, since having children, haven’t been able to go back to dance work at all — not through want of trying — but because they are the sole care givers to their kids. I’m hoping our families will be there for us again when we need them and that I can carry on creating, making and providing.
Photograph by Karla Jones.