Dolly's blog: Dear Me
Ten years ago, I saw an email from Citymothers seeking applications for a blog they were about to launch. I had three children under the age of eight, childcare we couldn’t afford, a husband about to deploy to Afghanistan for 9 months (again) and a legal career I’d loved but now seemed impossible. I submitted a blog, got selected, and 40 blogs later I’m still standing. Here’s what I wish I’d known 10 years ago.
- Having more children to have maternity leave to see your children is not a sustainable strategy.
- There is no such thing as work life balance, so stop torturing yourself in pursuit of it. Like Father Christmas, it’s a nice idea that doesn’t exist. Listen to your mum and stop waiting for a knight in shining armour to save you: if life isn’t working then the only person who can fix that is you. Make some changes and remember that sometimes you have to move “backwards" to move forwards.
- Someone wise once said "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" Do that thing.
- Don’t mourn the passing of early childhood because what you lose you gain. Teenagers keep you young, winding them up by pretending to be cool is incredibly entertaining, and a dog will assuage the baby craving.
- Trust me that there will come a time when your entire family doesn’t get nits every year and you won't spend endless hours grooming them like you're in some sort of wildlife documentary. In the meantime, buy a Nitty Gritty comb and keep the faith.
- Satan will invent something called WhatsApp and you’ll have no option other than to join the class group. It will be torture. It will constantly make you feel like a bad mother. But it will also allow you to pay someone else to sort out the class Christmas present, and this is the pact with the devil that you will make. Virtually no men will be in these groups.
- You need to start exercising and the sooner you accept that the better you'll feel. And moisturise your neck, because Nora Ephron was right.
- There will come a point when you're brave enough to admit that driving three unenthusiastic children to a manky swimming pool, affixing blue plastic bags your feet, sweating in the humidity and firefighting work emails (whilst pretending you’re watching the swimming lesson) is not enjoyable for anyone concerned. Let the kids watch television after school and everyone will be happier.
- There’s going to be a global pandemic, you will initially fear that your family may starve, the government will stop you leaving the house for more than an hour each day and expect you to home school your children in addition to holding down a job. No, I'm not making this up. The good news is that you’ll get to spend precious time with your kids, your Peloton stats will be off the scale, and you’ll look back incredulous thinking “what the f**k was that all about?!”
- Resilience doesn't mean not showing emotion or never getting knocked down. Whether at home or work, emotion shows you are human and that you care. Resilience is about picking yourself up again and bouncing back. You will cry and then you will bounce.
- Above all, keep working. You will come very close to throwing in the towel because there will come a point where it feels like the only option. It isn’t - and you'll be so very glad you didn’t. You’re stronger than you think you are. Believe.
After 19 years of fee earning, Dolly now works in a management role in a London law firm. Working four days a week she is supported by a wonderful (though often absent) husband as they attempt to bring up three children aged 16, 14, and 12. A lockdown puppy adds to the chaos but keeps her sane.