I have a stellar ego. I only came to terms with this blindingly obvious fact fairly recently but having coming to terms with it, I can, now at least, on occasion, temper my arrogance. Never has this been so true then in this last week. I have had some hideous professional experiences, but rather than go all diva, and tell them to shove it up their hoop, which my bad id has been boiling to do. I have wound my neck in, smiled through gritted teeth and carried on. Why?
I need to look after my kids. I need to be there for my children, which means I have to do something I don’t want to do because it pays the bills, and keeps me able to serve my kids needs. I am bound by the military mistress, and Hagar’s career takes precedence over mine. My expertise is professional yachting but you can’t have two parents gallivanting off on global trips, the kids need a better grounding than that. I did it when The Grenade was not yet in school, and I dragged him, and aunty Pat, to look after him while I was working, around the globe while I directed the communications for an international yacht race.
Sailing is my passion. It has been ever since I was 17 years old, when I went on an activity holiday to the South of France for £100. All inclusive, board a bus, go to the Languedoc, sleep in tent, get fed, sail, get drunk, make out with fit sailing instructors. What an amazing holiday. I loved it! There and then I decided when I had finished my A-levels that I was going to make my life a beach. There were two beach jobs; Groupies, they chaperoned the kids around to the activities and Sailing Instructors, they ran all the on water activities and the blokes were hot, hot, hot. I thought – I have to be a sailing instructor that is the best gig to do. I want to spend all summer on a beach in a bikini, surrounded by fit blokes. I duly applied and filled in the application form, lying about my sailing ability. One day the phone rang and it was the company, which was called Tops Adventure (it went bust decades ago). The bloke on the phone was from land based Warminster, my home town. He was so shocked that someone from Warminster was applying for a sailing position that he forgot to ask me anything about sailing and he offered me the job. Just about to hang up, he said, ‘oh you can sail can’t you?’
“Sure, yes, definitely, absolutely.” I said.
“Right, see you on the 20th July then.” he said.
“Blimey!”, I thought, better learn to sail then. The next week I enrolled myself on a RYA level 1 sailing course, at shallow, mud filled, gravel pit, near Westbury station and tried to learn to sail in a topper (small, indestructable, plastic one man boat). I failed miserably and ended up most weeks, capsizing and getting covered head to toe in duck shit.
I didn’t care because come July I was getting on a bus and heading to the South of France to live on a beach for 12 weeks and I couldn’t wait. I counted down the months. Over the next twenty years, the girl who couldn’t keep up a topper went from novice to intermediate to instructor to senior instructor to commodore of my university sailing club, to day skipper, to yachting PR professional, to account executive, to account manager to account director to freelancer to strategic marketing communications director to writer of a bestselling novel and I have fought, laboured, earnt and invested every effort into delivering exceptional award-winning results for those whose interests I represent.
But the military mistress she sent us places, and therefore, to keep the family unit together, I stepped down from the pedestal of power and ambition. The flame still flickers inside me, and so, I have to work out a compromise to keep the pennies coming in, to keep my sanity and brain nourished.
If I wasn’t a wife, a mother. If I wasn’t humbly asking for consideration and flexibility because I have to serve the needs of my children. Would he have patronised me in the meeting? Would have continually have called me by the wrong name? When he operated in manner which was not entirely truthful and I felt dreadfully uncomfortable, would he have done that to a male consultant? When I politely objected to his condescending nature, would he have said, ‘look do you want the work or not?’ If I was not forced to work in this area, so I can be near for my children, especially when Hagar is deployed, if I was not grateful for the income, I would have told him in no uncertain terms to ram it up his bum, but no, I wound my neck in. I did it for my children. I did it for the money. I did it so I could stay local.
I am not passionate about the work. I can do the job. I can do it standing on my head. I took the metaphorical kicking and with my cap in hand I took the gig. The pay is good, the job is easy but my pride is bruised. My super-ego is bashed because I deserved more respect than I received. My CV deserved to be read and my experience acknowledged. To be honest I don’t really know what the answer is because as a milly you have to take what you can get sometimes but I think even non-milly mothers who were ambitious professionals are faced with the same compromised circumstances. One friend of mine, once a high earning editor of women’s magazine summed it up, ‘you can’t be in two places at once’ and right now the place I need to be is near my kids. Therefore, if I want to earn the money I am just going to have put my super-ego away and wind my neck in.
It’s going to be tough though, someone please pass the wine and maybe get ready for some crazy rantings!