Like any working mum can attest, being away from home and the family can be a big emotional challenge. I for one am feeling the strain of being away from my family while doing the theatre show. There may be a misconception that my job is glamorous, easy even, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Very long hours, driving the length and breadth of the country on your own a lot of the time. You’re staying in ‘digs’, little or no routine, in changing and unfamiliar cities, in a new room each week on your own; and most testing of all, away from your loved ones.
The one thing that’s different touring now compared to the early days of Atomic Kitten is the joys of FaceTime and Skype. When I was working away, touring with Atomic Kitten, I had to make do with the phone up against my ear and saying “I love you” without seeing their beautiful faces. Thank god for technology and being able to chat away to them, seeing them in real time in all their glory – signal or WiFi permitting – it’s wonderful. I have been able eat my tea with the kids over WiFi, read them bedside stories and even been able to watch sports days because of the joy of technology. Of course it’s not a substitute for being with them in person, but for now I’ll take it!
Even with technology, it does get difficult on those days where you feel like passing ships. My children live between my house and their dads and with so much going on in their lives, there can be times when I call, and they are busy; or they call, and I’m on stage or rehearsing or stuck in some theatre basement with rubbish WiFi. Before you know it, you’ve tried calling 10 times, not managed to catch up, and they’re in bed and you’ve missed them. That is always gutting. No matter how hard you’ve tried it just hasn’t worked out that day and you haven’t spoken to them.
It’s easy to take for granted being at home with the kids and being there with each other. Now when I am home at the weekends, I try to do as much as I can with them, and probably get really annoying because all I want to do is hug them and tell them even more so how much I love them. Even now the boys say “We know Mum, you’ve told us a million times today!” I just giggle, the boys are so used to me being away that it doesn’t seem to faze them anymore… but it’s my youngest son & daughter who it really seems to effect. They are stuck to me like glue when I get home, it’s a lovely feeling but it’s also heartbreaking saying goodbye again. Recently Ella has slept on my tummy with her arms so tight around my neck saying ‘Mummy please don’t go back to work.’
You start thinking why am I doing this? What’s the point? Are the kids suffering? But I have to stay strong and remind myself that I saw my parents working all hours to pay the bills and put food on the table, and they instilled a very good work ethic in me too. I tell my children all the time, “Mummy’s making pennies so we can have nice things.” I hope that when they get older they understand that nothing in life comes for free, and you have to work hard and go where the work is.
Even now, my 15 and 13 year old sons have weekend jobs. They went out on their own accord and asked local businesses if they needed help like boxing pizzas or washing cars or dishwashing. I’m so proud to see them growing up knowing that things don’t come easily and you have to work hard for them.
For now, I will have to cherish my FaceTime chats and giggle with my younger children and smother them with love when I get home – Love In Sundays, I’m coming for ya!