I remember the Sunday evening before “that” Monday morning when Simon, would be going back to work a mere 3 weeks after Oliver was born. I was in tears. How the hell would I cope without him? How could I look after this beautiful, needy, completely dependent bundle without Simon’s help?? Fast forward 8 hours and of course, we survived, in fact by the end of that Monday I was cross with Simon for coming home and messing up my new perfectly crafted routine.
In the new world I would be returning to work full time but in condensed hours. I would work 4 long days meaning that I would have Fridays at home with Oliver. This meant that Simon would have to do the childcare drop off and pick ups 4 days a week. So where he was previously used to rolling out of bed 10 minutes before leaving the house, he would now have to be up, showered and dressed before going in and waking up and dressing Oliver – no mean feat with a wriggling, squirming, 9 month old who’s hungry for breakfast! I was convinced it was never going to work! But Simon assured me it was going to be ok. Even when I clarified that the new world meant that we would have to take it in turns getting up in the night if Oliver woke. I kept panicking about how Simon would cope with the new routine. Up until this point I had dealt with all of the night time wake ups because I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning – admittedly sometimes I would do it all very loudly while huffing and puffing in an attempt to wake Sleeping Beauty, but this usually failed and instead just made me irritable.
As Christmas rolled closer I felt more and more anxious about getting back to work. I love to be good at what I do, so I was concerned that I might have lost what I was once good at, or I might find that actually things are much better at work since I’ve left so why would they want or need me back? *Note* as much as you’d like to believe the whole organisation will crumble when you leave, it won’t and in my case, it didn’t . . . Going on maternity leave is not good for your ego.
About 10 days before my return to work I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up about 3am and could not stop worrying about what was waiting for me back at work. I knew that I would be doing some things the same as before but other responsibilities had changed. I found myself writing notes on my iPhone about what I should say to my new team on my first day back. It turned out to be somewhat therapeutic, so if any of you are awake in the night worrying about returning to your workplace, I recommend writing all of your worries down there and then – In my case, this must have helped as I fell back to sleep promptly after finishing the agenda for my first team meeting.
I also remember that I found myself to be quite conflicted over Oliver’s childcare arrangements. On the one hand I was totally ready to go back to work and I was comfortable with the concept of being a working mum. I also felt like I was letting him down in terms of stimulation and development and therefore he would benefit greatly by socialising with other children and a childcare professional. However on the other hand, I found myself resenting the fact that another woman would get to stay at home and play with my boy all day, watch him grow and meet new milestones . . . Why was I paying someone else so that I could miss out on all of that wonderful stuff? Deep down I do know the answer to that question and it’s not just because we have a mortgage to pay. I do actually want to go back to work and therefore I feel guilty that I don’t want to stay at home and dedicate all of my time to the role of a full time mum. Although in admitting that I want to be clear that going back to work full time doesn’t make me any less of a mother. Oliver will always be my priority and my first concern.
I’ve always been in awe of women who are at home coming up with wonderful messy play scenarios, creative craft activities and baking with their children. My sister is a great example of one of these mums – she is incredible to me. I have found myself wondering “why can’t I be like that?”, but then I realise that it’s just not me. I’m sure some people will think I am horribly selfish for wanting a part of my old life back, maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I guess I’m still struggling with this one a little bit.
I would love to know your thoughts on this . . .