Today, as I was swapping the number four out for a three on my lightbox, I felt an unfamiliar twinge. I’m still trying to process what it was but I think it was a cross between guilt, sadness and maybe a touch of fear. For a little while, I dismissed it and got back into the decluttering challenge I had started earlier this morning. But when I sat down to have a break, it hit me.
I’m really going to miss being at home and spending my days with the girls.
Perhaps it was just the after effects of a fabulous weekend spent pottering around at home, outside in the backyard, rearranging the cubby and play area for the girls, planting some strawberries for Miss B and some herbs for me and transplanting overgrown plants out of pots and into gaps in the garden. It was a productive weekend, peppered with a few beers as we went about our tasks. Nan and Pop came up for the afternoon and stayed the night much to Miss B’s delight and the SIL and BIL came over for dinner on Saturday night. There was a great sense of family and one of those weekends that childhood memories are made of.
But then I remembered the conversation I had with my MIL on Sunday afternoon. We were talking about the cost of childcare and how it was something we’d need to think about in deciding whether or not to have a third baby, especially as we’d need to do a brand new IVF round to do so. She made a comment that perhaps I should think about staying home full time and before I knew it, without ever having uttered these words before, I had said the following – I’m not sure that I could handle being a full time mum without knowing I had a job to go back to. And since then, that has been playing on my mind and I don’t know whether I feel bad about it or not. Or if I feel guilty about it or not.
I’ve never felt guilt for returning to work in the past. Was it hard on both me Miss B the first time around? Yes it was probably a challenge, especially given the hubby is away all week and we went at it alone the majority of the time, but I’m very clear about who I am as a mother and reality is I am a better mother when I work, than when I stay home full time. I’m quite open about the fact that I’m not a particularly maternal mother and the thought of being a full time stay at home mum scares me a lot. My career has always been a focus point in my life so the thought of giving it up is confronting for me. A full time mum is not something I’ve ever aspired to be, nor is it something that I think I do particularly well. Whilst I love my children dearly, I have always known in my heart of hearts that returning to work was a given for me and quite normal. My mum who always worked when we were babies and toddlers so I’ve grown up with a working mother which has no doubt influenced my view of the world and perhaps, in combination with my personality, it’s just who I am. I’ve yet to stick out a 12 month stint of maternity leave having returned to work 4 months early the first time and again heading back after 9 months of leave (despite being committed to taking a full 12 months however thanks to childcare placements, it was go back early or pay for 6 months worth of care to secure my spot!).
But don’t get me wrong, I admire those women who choose to stay at home. I have some friends who do an amazing job of keeping a well coordinated and functioning household and who are extremely hands on with their children and I envy that. But as it turns out, I simply don’t seem to have the talent or the inclination to get my shit together on a day to day basis. My preference for a pressure cooker environment means that juggling both work and family life makes sense to me although I’m aware that many of my friends think I’m crazy trying to work a compressed work week (full-time hours over four days instead of five). It’s a choice that’s not for everyone. I get that. But I guess that just proves that everyone is different and you make it work to suit you and your family. So no, I don’t feel guilty about returning to work from that point of view.
But I am a little apprehensive. I’m so very lucky to have two of the most easy going, happy, cruisey kids that ever graced the earth. They were both amazingly easy babies and on the whole Miss B is a pretty awesome toddler too so in theory, I’m pretty confident that once we get into the swing of things, we’ll make it work. But what if we don’t? What if the time and effort that has to go into getting up ridiculously early and the long long days for all of us, just make us grumpy and unhappy? What if, I resent my workplace or worse, begin to resent my family life? Surely it won’t happen, it didn’t last time, but what if it does? I haven’t got a Plan B worked out yet, although I am working on one.
To be honest, I can’t even bare to think about that right now. I have so much still going on in my head that I don’t have the space to unpack what that means. I will in time, I have no doubt, but for now, all I can do is cherish the time I have left whilst I’m on leave and make the most of the time I have spare whilst the girls are transitioning to full time child care to complete the projects I have planned. And take copious amounts of photos, because documenting these two little ladies, is just about one of my most favourite things to do (that and take pics of George and Penny)!
Are you coordinated and well planned, or do you thrive in a pressure cooker environment like me? Do you take way too many photos of your kids and then wonder how the heck you’re going to do anything meaningful or useful with them?