Juggling (GUEST POST)

Hello everyone, I’m Sarah from ‘Sarah Illustrator’ I am chuffed to bits that Sash didn’t mind me taking up space on her blog. I’ve been a reader for a while now and have to say it is one of my favourite reads (although perhaps at the minute for all the wrong reasons) but at least it is honest. In a blog world where there are so many churning out the same old thing it is lovely to read one that is definitely content over style which I appreciate. Not that the blog isn’t stylish…it’s just, well, you know what I mean!

Anyway I said to Sash that I wanted to write about the age old problem of juggling motherhood and work. It is something I’ve been meaning to address in more detail on my blog, so here I am on hers instead.



As a mother of one and a freelance illustrator I am always struggling to feel like I am managing both jobs well. Sometimes I think I have taken on too much, what with an ETSY shop, book work, a blog and an almost two year old to look after. Stanley turns two at the beginning of January and I am fielding similar questions I did when I was first married. “So another baby soon?” “Do you want a brother or sister for Stanley?” “Oh, you better not leave it too much longer”. “You don’t want the gap between them to be too big, too small”…and so it goes on. I know people are only being kind, and it is true as a family we have discussed the idea of another, and when, but I feel a pressure building as I am just getting my work life back to ‘normal’ and feel I am carving my way as a successful illustrator again, being Sarah, not just mummy. Not that there is nothing wrong with being mummy, or only mummy. I love Stanley more than anything, and as any mother knows it’s a love that can almost frighten you with how strong it is. I’m proud of my little boy, how he is as a person, learning, loving and so kind, I know that is mainly down to me and my husband, how I teach and raise him as he is with me most of the days. I am extremely lucky and live near both my parents and my husband’s parents. We moved back ‘home’ to Brighton after living in London for 10 years for the reason being that we knew how important family would be to help out with looking after Stanley with the cost of nursery or childcare being so expensive in the UK. I am a natural worrier which doesn’t help, an over thinker. I like lists, planning and so on, but I feel a second child should feel less planned, not slotted in amongst my do-do list!

So am I being a typical mum of this age we live in where I think I should, and deserve to have both things – motherhood and a career. Should I just give up work altogether and concentrate on being only Mum? I took on my first job when Stanley was just 8 weeks old. I regret it, it was utter madness looking back, I mean I was barely getting any sleep, sometimes not showering for days and here I was saying yes to a job. It certainly wasn’t my finest piece of work, and I did do an awful lot of crying….and not just from the hormones! That is I guess the trouble with freelance – you feel you’ll be forgotten if you say no to a job. After all I get none of the perks of having a proper job, the maternity leave, the maternity pay, sick pay, holiday pay etc etc but I do get the perks of the freelance life. Saying when and how I’d like to do the job, fitting it in around help from my family, and working from home. Being able to continue with a job I absolutely LOVE. Yes, LOVE. Writing and illustrating children’s books is a fantastic job, and one now I can share with my son. More recently Stanley has become perhaps more helpful than he realizes with inspiration and feedback on books. Reading out loud, properly, to a child has helped me see what is successful in my books and others and helped informed my choices for the two recent stories that are currently being pitched to my publishers.


So I guess although I’ll never feel like I’m ever doing both ‘jobs’ to the best of my ability I am happy, (although stressed from time to time) and that I guess is the main thing in life. I cannot wait for the day when he realizes fully that the book he chose for his bedtime story was illustrated by his mummy and dedicated to him.

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  • December 28, 2012 - 8:17 pm

    Cassie Nguyen - I totally get it! I don’t have a specific job to return to (nor the maternity leave, nor the timeframe for a return to work, nor the ‘security’), but I still feel that struggle between the need to be ‘me’ as well as a mama. It’s a hard one that I haven’t quite figured out yet because, like you, I don’t think it will ever sit entirely right because our instinct (and it’s associated mummy-guilt) will always be pushing us towards more time spent with our little ones. It’s beautiful that your work is something you can share so readily with your son. What beautiful memories you will be forever giving him in your books!ReplyCancel

  • December 29, 2012 - 1:00 am

    Annabelle (Kate's friend) - Cassie, your story moved me to tears. As a 54 year old mother of emerging teenaged girls, 18 and 14 years of age, I heard many echos with my own past decisions, both passive and active. Your life is your own to write and illustrate. But I also believe, looking back, that life is dictated to us as well. We are able to choose, but sometimes life strongly wills a certain direction. It sounds as if your life is busy, and you are most importantly PRESENT for your son. The rest will come. I am proud of your independence, your spirit and your willingness to care for and give growth to your creative spirit! You are modelling independence and freedom for your child, value of family, balancing work, room for fun and play. Sounds perfect, even when it is stressful! Thanks for sharing!

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