21st August 2013
Last November 2012, I gave birth to a baby girl, 7lbs 13 oz’s at 16.36 in the afternoon. It was the single most incredible thing to happen to me in my life- period. It has changed my life irrevocably for the better. I cannot imagine life without her and it pains me to try. Over the last ten months we have become inseparable. Her daddy, my lovely husband, I know very often has felt the cold winds of Siberia as he looks on from the outside despite my very best efforts to include him. She is very much a Mammy’s girl for the moment. This could very well change as, over the years as she realises that her Daddy is far cooler than I and much softer to boot, coming in handy when she needs extra pocket money or permission to go to a disco. See? Did you catch that? My very uncool vocabulary has given me away already. She’ll soon see through me.
So after six months statutory and 4 month’s voluntary unpaid leave, I return to work in 10 days. My stomach lurches as I type this. It isn’t work I fear returning to (although this should quickly change after five or six Mondays in winter) it’s the thoughts of leaving my little girl in the hands of stranger’s. I’ve turned these thoughts back and forth and upside down in my head over the last ten months, trying to figure it out. I’ve cried to my own mother, lamented the fact that some other woman will comfort her while she is sick or sad when I’m at work. My heart wrenches. That’s my job. My mother did it for me and now I should do it for her. But there is no getting away from the fact that there’s a mortgage that needs paying and there is food that needs buying and unfortunately, much as he would love it to, my husband’s salary alone will not cover our expenses. We have come to the conclusion that today, it is only the very fortunate and indeed the very unfortunate who are privileged enough to stay at home bring up their own children.
There is also a flip side to this coin, a selfish flipside I might add. I hold an excellent leaving cert and I’ve been to university and achieved my degree. I’m an intelligent girl with a lot to offer the work force. I have very much been an advocate of women’s rights all my life and have always been ambitious, if not a little lost in where I was going. I am well respected in my job and have always hoped to climb the ladder. If I were to give up work I know I would be doing myself an injustice. It is, after all 2013. There is also a loud voice in my head telling me that as the same sex parent, it is essential that I am a strong role model for my daughter. I want her to achieve whatever is in her grasp in life. It is my job to show her that this is possible.
With all this in mind, the decision I have come to with my husband is to return to work for the moment at reduced hours, a three day week. It seems that this is the best compromise. We can still afford to pay the bills and buy nice things and I can maintain some semblance of a career, our little girl has the benefit of interacting with other little children in a safe environment and she will still spend the bulk of the week with her Mammy.
So this week, our little one has started a settling in week at playschool. We have chosen to send her to a crèche rather than a minder, but that’s another day’s entry. Every working mother I have spoken to lately has assured me that it gets easier, that kids adapt much faster than we do and that the whole process is probably harder on me than on her. They assure me that after a while, getting back to work will do me good. I’ll become myself again. I’m not sure I ever said I wanted to…
These decisions as a mother are some of the most difficult I can see myself making in my life and for this reason I have decided to document them in this blog. I hope that it will help other working mothers (inside and outside the home) and that we can all share our experiences and help each other as we find our way in the maze that is motherhood (and fatherhood for all those Daddies following too!) Please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear from you….