First rule about 3pm club is it’s not at 3pm. It’s a metaphorical 3pm and a real time in a woman’s life.
A couple of weeks ago at the creative writing group I go to, our teacher Maggie asked us to write about 2 different times of the day, exactly 20 minutes apart. At the time I wrote about a school at 10 to 9 and then 10 past 9, the difference between the hustle and bustle of arriving and the calm, quiet once lessons or assembly had started. Our homework was to write about a different time, a different place.
I couldn’t come up with any ideas, or at least any original ideas. All my thoughts seemed to replicate the before and after of people arriving or starting something. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t create a new story.
Until I thought about moving from one thing to another. I thought about how I’d moved from full time employment to working for myself, of the boys leaving home and going their own way, and more recently about how I’d moved house and how these events signified moving from one phase in my life to another.
I’d often casually remarked to people how my life changed when my boys left home. I joked about having a ‘full fridge and a quieter washing machine’ once they’d flown the nest. So I started to make a list of what life was like before they left home, and then once they had left home.
And with the list came a sudden realisation I had more time and freedom. Time to reflect and think and spend on me now. Time to do what I wanted to, not necessarily what I needed to anymore. Time to be me instead of a mum juggling work and home and often ignoring me.
This reminded me of something I’d heard on a course I’d been on. I’d become a 3rd phase mum – a 3pm.
Diana Billamoria talks about women’s careers being divided into 3 phases. The first phase she describes as the sprinter, desperately running to get on and up the career ladder. The 2nd phase is the pragmatic endurance runner, steadily plodding along to get to the end. The third phase is the relay runner, ready to pass on the baton, to give something back, to help and inspire others.
I was a 3rd phase mum – a 3pm. It’s the time Mums move from being endurance runners to relay runners. The time we realize we don’t have to sprint or endure any more. The time we realize we are ready for autonomy, to find our own purpose, to use our skills to help others. The time we are at our own crossroads, deciding which road to choose.
And so my new baby, the 3pm club, was born. Already I’ve had 6 meetings; in a coffee shop, a car, at a pony club show, in a pub, in a marquee, at the hairdressers – anywhere inspiring women at this time of their life chat. And I know this is just the start because the more 3pm club meetings I have, the more I realize how much I love being with inspiring women, women on the cusp of greatness, of finding and choosing their own direction, of exploring, of supporting and giving back, of using all the skills and experiences they’ve gained to nurture their own hopes and dreams. Women helping each other – inspired and inspiring.
The other thing I’m absolutely sure of is that I’ll keep meeting the 3pm clubbers, at all sorts of unusual and unexpected places, just not at 3pm.