Andrea Mara

Official website

A year of engagement

This is my 100th blog-post. And tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.

So I’m thinking that it might be OK for me to say something about that – about my first year of blogging.

For me, 2013 has been a year of engagement. Not the diamond-ring type – that was a decade ago (though I wouldn’t say no to something sparkly for an upcoming ten-year-anniversary). I mean engagement with the wider world outside my own bubble.

SAMSUNGFor the five years prior to this one, I was busy with three all-consuming, worth-every-second babies.

Before that, I was busy with work and weddings and travelling and estate-agents and couches and tiles.

This year, with my youngest baby no longer a newborn, and having adjusted back to office life, it felt like everything was finally settling into a more permanent routine and that there might be space to try something new. I just wasn’t sure what that would be.

I have a very distinct memory of one particular evening driving home from work with my husband; driving along the coast road, looking out at the sea near Sandymount. It was during that second half of February when for the first time it isn’t quite dark leaving work. We were listening to the radio – to The Last Word I think. There was a piece about women on boards and gender quotas, and I was texting the program, but feeling frustrated – it didn’t feel like really being part of the debate.

I remember turning to my husband and telling him that I wanted to somehow be involved in the conversation, not just this one, other conversations too – I didn’t know who I wanted to talk to or how, or even what I really meant, but I wanted to be able to say what I was thinking; to feel a part of something; to feel engaged.

I searched online for a group or a forum – somewhere to chat about being a parent, being a mother who works outside the home, being a woman in the workplace. Perhaps even somewhere to find role models who are making it work.

I wasn’t necessarily seeking mothers who are hugely career driven to the exclusion of all else; mothers who never have a moment of self-doubt. I have self-doubt – I have occasional days when I can’t breathe with guilt – particularly when something goes wrong with the kids and I worry that it’s because I go out to work.  But I also love my job – I get a lot of fulfillment from it, and I want to progress; maybe not so much now – now is about maintaining, but when the kids are older.

And I believe that there are thousands of women in Ireland who feel like this – women who are neither at one end of the working mother spectrum or the other, but want to feel fulfilled at work while not letting their kids down. Finding a balance.

Picture 337

After that car journey in February, I started to search for such a group or forum online but found none. It took me a few more weeks and a walk on Dun Laoghaire pier to clear the cobwebs, and then pluck up the courage to start a blog.

And it worked – it was the outlet I needed; a space to express an opinion, a medium to vent, a forum to discuss, a means to engage.

And it’s made me very, very happy.

Wishing you and yours all good things for 2014.


Please forgive this navel-gazing; normal blog-posts about parenting disasters and interviews with mothers will resume shortly 🙂





Click the button below to sign up to my Penguin newsletter.