This month is a significant one for us as Taylor will start nursery for two days each week. The plan is that I’ll have more time to focus on my freelance work and I’ll be able to gradually build up my workload towards a decent monthly income.
Alongside this, I’ll also be helping the hubby with his business which has gone from strength to strength (thanking our lucky stars) since I first left work to go on maternity leave. Because of this, there’s been no pressure on me to return to work. Although having two incomes would obviously ease the pressure, there’s been no urgent requirement for it right now.
So why go back to work?
It’s a conversation I had with my mum this weekend who is (I hope she won’t mind me saying) a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the family set up. If you don’t have to, then why would you want to go back to work?
But I’ve always liked the workplace myself. I like being wanted and being told that ‘I done good’. I like to feel like I’m a part of something a little bigger than myself and that I’m adding real value with the work that I do. I like earning my own money and looking back over my achievements. I like the feeling I get after a good day at the office when I realise I’m worth every penny I’m paid.
And yes, having a daughter who needs me has made me feel more fulfilled than I ever thought possible. Her smile every day is so much sweeter than a pay check. Her claps when I do something funny is all the praise I’ll ever need. She is most definitely my biggest achievement of all and, for the first time in my life, I am finally content.
So why go back to work?
I’m going back to work because the time is right for me. And somewhere inside of me I feel that I owe it to the girl in her twenties who worked hard to carve out a good career for her future self.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that girl anymore. Taylor has changed me in so many ways and that future self is not really that interested in climbing the career ladder anymore, or chasing the money. I don’t want a highly stressful or demanding job where I’m going to be expected to work long hours and miss those precious moments at home. I realise that I am lucky to have that choice.
But for the first time in my working life I feel empowered and I truly feel that I can work for myself and make it work. Those doubts I had before when I ever considered freelancing are now gone. Of course, I know that this has a lot to do with not having the pressure of leaving an existing job role (and the security of not desperately needing a second salary) but I do feel that having another small human to think about has lit a fire in my belly that’s driving me towards new possibilities.
On a shallower level, perhaps my ego is just a little too big to spend my days selflessly caring for another. Perhaps I’ll never be able to stop the instant justifications I feel I need to offer when hubby walks through the door and assesses the chaos of the house, or the understanding (or complete lack of) I see in the eye of a stranger when I tell them I’m a stay at home mum. Perhaps these are all my own problems.
But regardless of all of that, I feel that the time is right for Taylor too. She is such a playful, happy little soul and I truly do feel that she will love meeting new people, interacting with other children and learning new ways of play every day.
I’m not the mum who sets up a different craft station each day. Or the mum who turns the living room into a new obstacle course each hour. We don’t have lots of visitors every week, nor does Taylor have any siblings to run about the house with when she’s having one of her ‘mad half hours’. I hate that all I’m thinking about is that I need to get the dinner on, when all she wants is for me to play with her. I’m not good with the constant mum guilt. And if it’s not mum guilt, it’s the wife guilt.
But I love her every day. I smother her with kisses and squeeze her with cuddles. I patiently teach her something new for however long it takes and squeal with delight when she finally gets it. I read her a story every evening and always kiss her goodnight. I check in on her to listen to her breathing before I go to bed and can’t wait to see her face every morning.
None of that will ever change.
But both of us are ready for new experiences and new challenges.
This was not meant to be another post in the pot about whether mums can or can’t ‘have it all’ (i.e. reconciling motherhood with a successful career). In my opinion, ‘having it all’ is very much down to personal perception and ‘having it all’ to one mum could mean something entirely different to another. I salute every mum who is trying to do the best they can for themselves and their families – whether that’s by being a working mum, or a stay at home mum.
For me it’s about finding my happy medium. This is me having it all.
Did you return to work after maternity leave? Or have you chosen to stay on at home?