Women, fellow industry mums, ladies juggling life. In this socially-connected age of having it all and wanting it all – because let’s face it, we’ve more than earned the right – what happens if you don’t actually want it?
Instagram is choc-full of insta-mums doing the lot. They’re breastfeeding in the boardroom. They’re posting on the school run. They’re barrier-crashing, inspiring, empowering. Just look at them and their Breton stripes and their mum-garees. That could be me, you think.
Anna Whitehouse, aka @motherpukka breastfeeds while she talks on a panel about pushing for flexible working for mums, dads, everyone. Her ‘flex appeal’ campaign is making massive, Lycra-wearing strides for us. She’s all mouth and fabulous trousers. She’s doing it all, for all of us.
There’s @stylemesunday, the former midwife, who openly says that some days are total rubbish. She poses in her underwear, mummy-tummy out. She’s happy in her skin. And you should be too, she tells us. Sure, she’s sponsored to wear that bra and those big brand jeans. But she’s doing it for her kids and she’s proud of that. She’s bringing all the realness, and doing it all too.
Then there are the initiatives coming out of our ears, the Talented Ladies Club – a network for mums who freelance, or want to launch a new business. Vital! The Mother of All Meet Ups – an exclusive Facebook group where mums post useful stuff, post baby. Just the ticket! Because it’s hard and we’re all in this together. We need this. And again, they’re run by working mums, doing this on the side.
But I have to ask, is it just me, or is it starting to feel like without a side hustle – and a load of extra hassle – you’re not really doing it right?
Journalist Sali Hughes recently wrote for The Pool on the heart-wrenching, back-breaking struggle of working all hours when her kids were small, to make ends meet – and still meet deadlines and see the school play. Sali talks not just of the will to work, but the absolute need to as a single parent.
These are the sentiments that push us forward and make us want to do well, for our own kids. But there’s a niggle with all this. And it threatens to undo all the leopard-print wearing, fist-pumping, breast-pumping inspo that fills our feeds and our heads.
What if you don’t want to do it all? Are you letting the side down?
What is it about today and needing to talk about your new business initiatives in the office and your side hustles in your spare time. Why do we need to give so very much, to everyone. Why have extra-curriculars become requirements? When will we be enough, just the way we are?
Maybe your ‘side hustle’ is reading that book you’ve been meaning to read. Maybe your ‘side hustle’ is having a lie-in once a week. Maybe you just want to be good at the job you do have – and the new role you’ve taken on at home.
Maybe your new hobby is being kinder to yourself and learning to say no sometimes.
Perhaps, dare I say it, you don’t have to do it all. Maybe you are enough.
Emma Howard is a senior copywriter at The Good Agency. She tweets via @Emmw