First time mum/referee/ sleeve snot wiper to a wild toddler. Designated household bum changer. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest and unfiltered perspective.

A Working Mum

Going back to work after having a child is different for every mother. Some are dreading the thought, others begging for the break, the normality.  

Some worried of the judgement encountered at silently missing the work load, the long hours. Feeling comforted for a life outside of whiffing nappies. Some overcome with guilt that they can't be at home, drinking up those fleeting moments.  

Some mums can afford to not return to work, but desire too. Others wish to take up full-time parenting, but would struggle to make ends meet. Or some do 50/50 to enjoy a more balanced load. 

It's good to be selfish sometimes. It's important to think of yourself, as well as your child(ren). There should be no criticism. No scolding. Whatever the choice may be. 
For me, returning to work after having Arthur was something, I knew I never wanted. I wished to remain at home. Not because I didn't want to provide for my family, or because I grew to quite like this not working aspect (well, parenting a baby is an under payed full-time occupation so perhaps juggling a job that never ends on top of your dreary 9-5 made the concept less appealing.) 

I was scared of missing something important. His first word, his first steps. I felt like I was involuntary wasting time I didn't have and wouldn't get back. Already, over the past months, had I watched him change and grow with every blink. I was so strongly aware of how abrupt the time went, and that made it all the more precious. All the more painful to miss.   
Sadly, I was not in a stable, or even relatively able financial position to do so. Being already in a job, I was not allowed to (temporarily) live solely on Arthur's money, as I would lose that too, in choosing to leave my job. 

I utterly loathed even imagining being back at work. It was unthinkable. I worried how I would manage being away from Arthur. The last time I was at work, I carried him with me. He was always there. I was always comforted by his kicks, his wriggling. His presence. 
This would be my first time away from him, and that felt strange. 

I believe I was, selfishly, more concerned about how I would cope with the separation instead of Arthur. He adjusted easily, to my relief, and also slight sadness. Returning, was not as daunting as anticipated. I slotted back into the familiar routine of it all. It was like I'd never left.  

However, I did struggle to adapt as time went on. Unfortunately, my maternity leave ended just a mere week following my separation from my sons' father. It was a difficult time. 
But I had always been one to conceal my emotions, to appear collected and without care. I assume it is why I can often come across as cold, rather distant to those who may not know me. I am very guarded and have always been careful, selective of who I invest my time or pour my soul into. 

Stopping, accepting my feelings or my struggles was not possible. Expressing suggested vulnerability. Feeling meant falling. Suppressing them was my only way of keeping my head above water, afraid of being submerged in the vast abyss of them all. I didn't want to suffocate.  

It was hard, balancing a raw, separation; starting a new home from scratch and adjusting to this new way of life, just Arthur and myself. Conflicted of where I was headed now, both scared and exhilarated. Scared of this new unknown but excited by its prospect. 

Attempting to juggle a 6-month-old that rarely slept and was also easing into this new place, these strange unfamiliar surroundings and working late hours running on nothing but caffeine and the faint hope that perhaps I'd be gifted a solid few hours kip that night (HA! Right!) was a lot. I was bubbling hysteria. I felt mixed up but I felt at ease. I felt confused but certain. Lost but finally home. Full of regret but full of acceptance.  
One big fucking paradox.  

The first few weeks were the hardest. I got into the groove, though I found myself eyeing the clock, willing the hours to tick by hastily. Wondering if Arthur knew I was coming home. Fighting this insecurity of my own that he would feel abandoned by my regular disappearance, when I couldn't explain why I had to leave him some days, for so long.  
Why was I wasting time in this dead-end job when I could be at home scooping up every moment of my precious son? When I could be where my happiness was? 

Even 8 months since my maternity leave has ended, I still find it really difficult going to work. I find it stressful trying to fulfil my job role, the unsuitable hours, the late nights, now that I am on my own. 
Having a child at only 1 means there is not a lot of options when it comes to childcare. Nursery waiting lists are stretched and the price, costly.  
Childminders, are trained, yet strangers, and something I am just personally not comfortable with. All of which, both include general day time schedule and, working, in retail, is hard to work around. 
I am very lucky to have supportive family, and Arthur's wonderful Nana and Papa, who are very much the only reason I am currently able to maintain a working life.   

I've found since being a mum, and being less flexible with my time, that I am unable to scope jobs that are suited and I presume, this is a big factor in why I am often rejected in interviews and equal opportunities. Given the option, my preference would be to parent Arthur full-time until he was in school and acquainted in a more regular structure where I could then focus on steady work and reliable income. 
Feeling so unsupported since returning to work and so out of options is frustrating. As I imagine so many other Mums can resonate with. There is no understanding, no accommodating, no compassion to single parents begging for the hours to pay the bills, all the while unable to manage childcare on such incompatible shifts. I find it difficult to comprehend why some companies choose not to work around appropriate working contracts for those with children or other demands.  

I hate that I spend more time fretting on whether I'll have to call in sick, to lose money I can't afford to watch slide down the drain rather than just sucking it up, doing the job, and knowing, it's all for Arthur.   

It causes a lot of anxiety. As a mother, it is my responsibility to provide for my son. I want him to have the best life possible, and although that will not solely centre around money, greed or immaterial needs, it is still a basic necessity.
It does keep me up some nights, worrying how I will continue to work a job and look after my son. How do I balance the two when it already seems impossible? When it flares anxiety, panic attacks and relentless stress. Would I eventually have to quit altogether, resulting in me possibly losing what small benefits I receive? What would I live off? How would I make ends meet? I have struggled in the past to receive an email from employers, a recognition of any sort, never mind to catch myself that ever aloof interview.  

Mostly, I just hate being away from Arthur. Admittedly, it can feel alleviating at times to escape a few hours for respite from incessant, predictable hours of teething, kids' torturous TV shows, and feeling lonely. To be called by my name instead of mum. To mingle around other adults and have intellectual conversations and by intellectual, I mean, "Hi, how are you? Weathers a bit crap today isn't it?" as opposed to, "Ba, ba ba baTaa..." Any conversation with someone that involves a string of intelligible words that can be replied too, is gold when most chats are with yourself or your toddler that cannot respond. 

Settling back into work is an ongoing struggle with myself. It's hard not to feel like I'm stuck. It's frustrating to not be in a position where I can concentrate my time completely on Arthur. 
If I ever get that infamous book deal, perhaps I will be able 
to work entirely from home, being with who I love, doing what I love. 
Maybe one day.

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