This January marks five years since me and my (now) husband moved to the UAE from the UK.
Where did that time go?
Honestly, the older I get, the more time seems to speed up.
But despite my inevitable aging, what is nice is the feeling of accomplishment. Those five years, yes they went fast, but they were not wasted. A lot has been achieved. So much so in fact, that I sometimes feel like we’ve been swept up in a bit of a whirlwind. I can’t keep up with my life!
With each year that has passed, it seems like my label and identity has changed too. Here is a brief history of the last five years…
Upon making the big moved in 2012, I was a fresh “graduate” with a sparkling MA under my belt. Oh the pride, but the anxiety too at having graduated into a recession. Fabulous. And typical…
The anxiety soon faded however, as in March 2012, I started my first big-girl graduate job at one of the world’s most coveted communications firms. My label soon changed from “graduate” to “young professional”. I was 23.
Not many months later, my (then) boyfriend of six years got down on one knee and proposed on my 24th birthday. My label suddenly and ever so romantically went from “girlfriend” to “fiancé” in my personal life as we traversed our new, exciting and glamorous world.
We married just over a year later. I guess together our label became “young married professionals”.
Three months later and BOOM – a positive pregnancy test. Yes, readers of this blog should have realised by now that my husband doesn’t hang around on the baby-making front…! And yes, it was still highly shocking when I saw that ever so small, but ever so life altering + sign on that little stick! Suddenly I was a “Mum to be”!!
On August 6th, 2014, our little boy arrived. He was and is so perfect that my heart could burst! My label forever changed on my heart to that of “Mummy”. My maternity leave, while seared with doubt about returning to work, was the most blissfully perfect period of my life.
Alas, I took the leap and returned to work six months later. At the age of 26 suddenly I was a “working mother” and no matter how hard I tried, the label never quite sat well. On the one hand I was wracked with guilt for leaving my baby at home. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done! On the other I was wracked with guilt at the thought of leaving everything I had achieved in my education and first years as a professional. I felt I kind of owed it to myself with the words “If I leave now, will I EVER be able to go back?!” circling in my heard. I grew in confidence at work, but it was a tumultuous time for my sanity.
In the summer of last year, I changed my label to that of a freelance “work from home mother” thinking it might help give me the best of both worlds. It got off to a good start before rapidly plummeting downhill as my label changed once again back to that of “Mum to be”! A very nauseous Mum-to-be to say the least!
The sickness hit me like a brick wall, and though I am feeling hugely better now, I have to confess that it completely stopped me in my tracks and sucked me of my energy, my enthusiasm and my drive. Suddenly being a “work from home mother” seems so much less appealing than it did six months ago.
But the guilt is there. “I should be contributing to our household” “I shouldn’t be spending this much on presents” “Can I justify buying this new cardigan”. I honestly don’t like being financially dependent on my husband. He, on the other hand, is completely happy to shoulder it all (for the time being at least), because I am physically growing a new baby and spending quality time with our toddler. I am home and I am present. There shouldn’t be guilt…
The problem sits wholly with me…because it is me, it seems, that is having the identity crisis.
But with the New Year now upon us, and everything starting to look so much clearer in terms of moving back to the UK (soon!), delivery dates, school dates, vacations and future career prospects, I am finally ready to admit this to myself…
I am a “stay at home mummy”.
It’s a label, I think, I have shied away from, because society is so highly critical of stay-at-home mothers. I mean, all we do is relax at home all day having playdates and doing the dishes while our husbands’ slave away at work, right? *insert hysterical deranged laughter*
But then, as a “working mother” I was one of those cold, cruel types who can easily leave their fledglings at home to continue with the corporate world climb! (At least I was made to feel like that at some points… or conversely had people assume that I couldn’t afford to stay at home – I just could not win!)
And I think that is the point – I cannot win. At least not while I am fighting with myself and all my labels in my ever-changing life.
So this year, I am making the effort to stop weighing up my worth by my label, because my label, it seems, changes every year. This year, therefore, I will be embracing the fact that I am a “stay at home mummy” with a wonderful toddler at home and a new baby on her way in April. I am a mummy. That is my role, and it is the most wonderful and important role in the world right now.
It’s a role that I am also delighted I will always now have… but as my children grow up and grow away, it won’t always be as important or as central as it is right now. It makes me very sad and increases my desire to embrace this precious time. As I also know it’s not my only role. Whether a working mummy, a stay at home mummy, a work from home mummy, I’ve come to understand that a mummy is a mummy, plus so much more. Our lives constantly change and fluctuate!
Because in addition to being “mummy”, I am also Abbey. I am Abbey, from York, who currently lives in Dubai. I love reading, I am good at drawing, I love music (but none of that modern sh*t). I carry a little tub of Yorkshire Tea bags in my bag because it is my favourite and it makes people laugh at me. I like to travel but I am also a huge home bird. I have two University degrees. I can ride a dirt bike and a horse and a snowboard (though only intermediate levels), and I like to write…as a hobby (this blog) and as a form of income. My husband is Polish, I can speak it a little. I love trying new food, and this year I want to teach myself calligraphy. I am an introvert (and like it), but I have friends from all over the world. I could go on, but you get my point…
So here’s to a happy and exciting year ahead, and no longer defining myself or my worth by my “label” any more.
Beautiful image by Sophia Mattia Photography