The choices we make

As women – wives, mothers, daughters, partners, grandmothers – we all make choices…what choice did you make?

a rollercoaster against a blue skyOnly now, far away from the stress, anxiety and messy desk, do I feel able  even to start writing about this project, this great ambition, this crazy inspiration to join all us like-minded women, us much overlooked energetic caring kind coping wonderful women, women not born yesterday and yet unerringly looking forward to tomorrow.  Only now can I think on where it came from, this idea to publish and give women a voice.

So where did it all start and where will it end? It started I believe when, in tears on the London Paddington to Oxford at 2.39 pm passing through Reading, I called my husband and said I can’t do this anymore. A miscarriage loomed, my third trying  for this second child, and so, my meeting in Lincoln’s Inn thrown to the outreaches of memory, I was on my way home, knowing that with all my body and mind I did not want to do this anymore, this struggle to get to work without my porridge in my hair, the tearful adieu every morning to my 2 year old boy, and the rushing off from the office at 5 pm literally to get on my bike because I couldn’t be any later for him, my heart breaking to see him. I couldn’t do it anymore, this being exhausted and always rushing rushing doing nothing properly:  being an inadequate lawyer  and a second rate mother not there for her baby with his sticky eyes, his need for me, his crying for me, his ignoring me when I finally get there because I had been away so very, very long, a lifetime.

So that decision to fling it all away, my training, my profession and my status and, above all, I reflect now, my independence in the form of more income than I knew what to do with, that decision shaped the next 15 years and brought me to here. The right thing to say would be that I don’t regret that decision at all, after all it has allowed me to be me in so many ways- magistrate, part – time lawyer (for a while), mother (full on), mature student, charity volunteer, tennis player, garden lover etc. etc. and yet what it took away slowly, painfully, yet indisputably was my self – esteem,  my sense of self – worth, my ability to answer that question, ” And what do you do?” such that now no one bothers asking it, and even my 12-year-old has no idea and who can blame her – for her I just pack bags and pick stuff up off the floor and neither of them very well. Above all that decision, ironically perhaps, took away my opportunity to be free.

So now I am being free by networking more than I ever thought I could and being in touch with and relying on supportive women everywhere and creatively writing whatever I want to say and publishing what other women want to say and I am loving it…read my blog for quite how challenging a project this is!!

Carolyn Lazarus

About Carolyn Lazarus

This is the author biography the late, great Carolyn Lazarus (1960-2015), founder of totally4women wrote for herself. Her words are typically self-effacing and humorous... 'Well at 50 I looked 40 and at 54 I look 99...someone explain that to me if they would. In addition I am, allegedly, a woman with little or indeed no sense of chic. Shy by nature or nurture it is difficult to say but it is what I am at heart. When I was 14 my mum bought me, “The Shy Person's Book" ...if you are a shy person this can be a difficult title to deal with every morning when you pass by your bookshelf. I like to run, nothing funny to say about this, it's just what I like to do. So that's me in a nutshell. It remains to say that I love my husband (long - suffering), my children (totally bored) and my parents (concerned).'

  • Gill Coombs


    I felt I had to reply because whilst I can empathise with how you felt/feel, I have realised that in my case at least I couldn’t manage the career (teaching), the children and all that went with them. I no longer feel guilty that maybe I haven’t ‘fulfilled my potential’ because whatever that potential was, I have fulfilled it within the limits of my mental make up and personality. I’m not explaining it very well (languishing in bed with something unpleasant and respiratory could be why) but I think my son put it quite well in a different context when at university – “I’m fed up with all these people who say ‘Well, of course I could have got a first if I’d worked harder’. They weren’t capable of getting a first because implicitly they couldn’t do the work necessary.” I couldn’t ‘have it all’ because I was constitutionally incapable of the necessary organisation and probably, sheer ruthlessness that this required. But I was available for every school event, every minor ailment and provided the never-ending taxi service for them to visit friends. I have frozen half to death attending sports matches, endured countless concerts and musicals, driven to Edinburgh to hear my daughter say 3 lines in a play, to Salisbury to hear her sing a solo at Evensong and I wouldn’t have wanted it otherwise (well, there were moments…). I have managed some work to prevent total cerebral atrophy; nearly 20 years of freelance editing/indexing at home, and once my daughter showed signs of academic indolence, something a little more permanent to pay for school fees, and of course there have been the almost inevitable school governor PTA activities – which didn’t necessarily please the children! I cannot claim however to have produced amazing cordon bleu meals (a medal for the inventor of the fish finger, please) and my enthusiasm for messy creative play was pretty minimal. A few years ago, I asked them – separately – whether they would rather have had a lifestyle with better toys, holidays, activities and whatever else a double income would have provided or were they happy that I’d been at home, and to their credit, and apparently spontaneously they both agreed on the latter option. In my view, once you have children, their opinions are the ones that becomes most important to you, and apart from the very rare super-women who can manage to do the lot, most of us have to muddle through doing what is best for them whilst trying to keep ourselves mentally active. At least I don’t – as far as I am aware – have anyone nurturing a grudge because I failed to show up for the concert when they played their first clarinet solo, or missed the cricket match when they actually took a wicket. In case there is any suspicion I am anti-feminist, certainly not, but I would never have dreamt of any role reversal. If my husband had been in charge at home it is debatable whether the children would have survived to adulthood and if they had they would have instantly moved out on grounds of self-preservation