Winding My Neck In

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!


  1. I totally get this post. After leaving uni after getting married (before graduating) then having two children before I re-entered uni I was so so so happy when I got my Bachelors. Then we got orders here to the UK. My degree was in Technical Management w emphasis in HR. Different country, different laws, useless degree until I get home. Dammit.

  2. Hmm. How would the world be if we financially valued motherhood? If a CV was more shiny and impressive for inclusion of our kids’ report cards, Tae Kwondo medals, parent-teacher interviews.

    In my professional life, I am coming to be proud of the skills that motherhood has taught me: the multi-skilling, the patience, the lateral thinking, anticipating drama.

    That said, while I work in a really great office, I still find myself looking sideways to gauge reactions when I dash out sort out the latest drama.. to rescue kids from the side of the road when the stupid busdriver has driven past again, orthodontist appointments, music performances… I have even ordered parts and fixed my own washing machine to avoid taking a day off work to wait for the repariman. I want to excel at work and want to be taken seriously, so I am wary of the impact of this double life.

    I would love a world where, instead of fearing that I was not keeping up with the 50-60hour weeks of my young male colleagues, that my contribution was celebrated in the context of my other wins… holding it together in the absence of my army guy, raising two great kids, keeping the house in reasonable order.. as well as my fabulous reports, client interaction and business development initiatives.

  3. Crisps anyone!!! (That’s potato chips to you guys) Thank you both for confirming the reasons why we blog, because we are not alone! What’s worse is those assholes who judge would flounder and fail if they tried to run the muliple layers of life that we expertly executed. Bastards!! Refill please! xx

  4. I imagine you’re talking about the guy who tried to pull a fast one re the rate….

    Pearls before swine – that’s what I call it.

    Know you’re GRRRRRRRRREAT, (and Tony the Tiger would love you too!)

    BTW, I was so impressed by the way you fought for your son’s place at school.
    Mama Lioness – it gives me strength and encouragement.

    Go grrl go. (And pass the rose wine!)

  5. I love reading your posts, because it’s good writing and your life is so different than mine. Lately, I seem to live vicariously through the adventures and lives of others. I’ll be back. My daughter just called and we want to make a run to the Folk Festival in Butte. (Montana) I forgot to plug in my cameras and camcorders. I love to get pictures of people watching entertainment and not so much the entertainment, itself. Happy sailing.

    1. Thanks Manzanita – we are divided by a few generations and a mahoosive duck pond aka the Atlantic. But then we do like Doiseneau and Brando – have fun at the folk festival folk watching. I think it’s better to be an observer than to be observed! Looking forward to the pics.

  6. Grrr! I know how it feels but on a much smaller level. Now I’m retired, I’m treated as a ‘layman’ by some of those I come into contact with. I want to scream ‘Excuse me! I did your job for 13 years!’ I’m not good at biting my tongue but I’m learning!
    Feel free to rant anytime!

    1. If I was retired I wouldn’t bite my tongue! I am only biting my tongue because I need the job. If I was you I would celebrate the opportunity to let rip – you tell them how it is lovely lady!! Or let me know who it is and I’ll tell them for you – how very dare they!!! 😉

  7. Well, I didn’t know that bout you. sailing? That is awesome! The new job with the condescending asshole sounds like a pain in the royal butt, but we have these things to do, don’t we, us women. And do it we do. You’ll be fine, great even, you’ll show them you can do the job, they’ll leave you a lone more and then eventually, when you can you’ll get the immense satisfaction of telling them just what you think of them and where they can stick their job and their attitudes

    1. I know – I have got my head around it now. I am focussed on the bigger picture. It could be so much worse. It’s a small price to pay really in the long run. I am dark horse with lots of tales and adventuring and debauchary. I should write a book called drinking around the globe!!

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