See that book? That’s my Bible. I found a copy in a secondhand shop, ooh, must be at least 12 years ago now, and loved it. Lent it out to a friend, never got it back. Found more secondhand copies on Amazon and bought two, one to lend out and one which never leaves my desk.

Each chapter is an interview with a woman who fulfils three criteria: that she has at least three children; that she has a high-flying career, and that she has remained married to the father of her children for at least 25 years. Ms Grove did the interviews in the hope that she would find the secrets of how they did it, but found the women had surprisingly little in common apart from help around the house and a conviction that to not do all three things was unthinkable.

Were she to publish a new edition (that one came out in 1987) I would not qualify for entry. I have three children. I’ve been married for 23 years so I’m nearly there on that one. However I’m nowhere near having a highflying career, or even feeling that I’ve achieved something worthwhile. I don’t think I’m a failure (or do I?) but I’m frustrated that I’ve not got further in my working life.

Admittedly it hasn’t helped that I abandoned one career when I had my babies – but I was bored with it, so I don’t regret it. It hasn’t helped that I decided I loved medical/ psychological research, when finding a research job is hard enough when you’re young and free to shoot around the country and work as many hours as it takes. But I don’t regret my (belated) university education; it has been worth every penny, every hour and every bout of tears.

So what do I have, in career terms? A BSc, an MSc, a diploma in childbirth education, journalism experience, masses of experience in organising, planning and teaching antenatal courses, retail experience. What I don’t have: a decent regular income. What do I do to get one? I have no idea.

My youngest son is in his final year of GCSEs and will be moving on to A-levels, so that’s two and a half years before he’ll be leaving home. My antenatal teaching income has been slashed due to less work available – which I don’t actually mind because I was ready for a break. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to replace it. I’m doing some work for the family business (using my retail skills). I have odd days of work linked to research, and the prospect of a little more work teaching NCT people about research, which will be good. But I don’t have a plan. Or a path. Or a decent, reliable income with which to feed my family, clothe myself, pay off my debts and start saving for my looming old age.

I don’t want to leave the family business (despite having spent the vast majority of my working life avoiding it) for all sorts of reasons. I don’t want to totally abandon the NCT stuff – I’ve been doing it for a long time and feel I have lots to pass on to the next generation of teachers and practitioners. I don’t want to turn away from the research stuff because I love it and have worked hard to gain this knowledge.

BUT. It’s not a terribly cohesive working life. And it doesn’t pay. What/ where next?

Ideas on a postcard please.

PS. If anyone wants to produce a new version of Ms Grove’s book, I’d buy it like a shot. Let’s see if the women who’ve achieved those goals in the last 25 years have any more wisdom to share regarding woman’s eternal quest.

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