I really struggled to step back into a professional role after I became a mum. I can be complacent and, for a while there, I meandered to and fro; should I, shouldn't I.
Thankfully, Daniel is my greatest love and, by far, my greatest challenge. He encourages me out of my comfort zone even if I take months to budge. We talked about my degree, my portfolio of published work, my ability to write a clear, succinct sentence. And he questioned, over and over and over again, why I was so hesitant to approach editors, completely unwilling to submit story ideas.
While I didn't say it at the time, he and I both knew that I was absolutely fearful of rejection. I'm a perfectionist and idealist - I don't take failure or criticism well. I've had my fair share of "constructive criticism" in my career, soul destroying at the time but in retrospect a professional blessing.
I eventually found work - permanent writing work and the publishing company allowed me to work from home. Months later, when I was 12 weeks pregnant with Poet, Daniel left his job and decided to pursue his own business, installing home theatres. It allowed him the freedom to choose his hours and embark on an entirely new career path - making films, not watching them. We had no idea where to start or who to talk to. But we did know that in order to make it in the film industry, he would have to work for free. Work on set, for long hours, for days on end, for free.
And that's when my words began to support my family.
Without expecting it I stepped into one of the most empowering roles of my life. As a result I'm a much more confident woman. Daniel became a stay-at-home dad and has revelled in the opportunity to spend his days with Che before he goes to school. He has been with Poet for every day of her first year. Together we share a deeper respect for professionals and stay-at-home parents; we've done both, we get it.
There are some weeks where it's overwhelmingly hard. Sometimes I'm overcome by mother guilt and feel torn between work and mothering. There are days when I would love to go to the park or the library but the rush of deadline cannot be ignored. I now know the ubiquitous juggle of the professional parent.
In and around the everyday busyness Daniel has pursued what some would call a fanciful dream. I wholeheartedly believe that he'll succeed. I have never doubted him but my support has, from time to time, wavered. I am so proud of his honesty and determination yet completely bewildered by how long this may take. I like a plan and right now, nothing is for certain.
Because I'm a dreamer I often joke about being thanked in his Oscar's acceptance speech. And because he's a realist he says: "Not in this lifetime baby."
Last week Daniel left for four days to work on set in Sydney. I complained about him leaving like I usually do and he reminded me of why this is so good.
The next day I overheard Che talking to the lady in the op-shop: "My mum writes stories and teaches yoga and my dad makes movies." In the midst of all this our children are witnessing us as we work creatively. "We're doing what we love." - and that is everything.
Photo by Tamara