I tried desperately to think of something interesting to say… Anything at all. Anything other than what I’d been up to with Madeline that week (mainly consisting of play dates, baby sensory class and soft play!) and all of her latest achievements.
It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about our baby girl, that would definitely have been my subject of choice. It’s just that it had dawned upon me that I actually didn’t have anything else to talk about. “What did we used to talk about before having a baby?” I thought.
My sister in law had offered to look after Madeline (then aged eight months) for the afternoon, so that my husband, Fraser and I could go out for lunch. She loves spending time with her niece and we really needed a bit of ‘us’ time, so it was win win. The only problem being that all we had talked about so far, other than a quick discussion regarding the menu, was our precious little girl.
It became clear to me that it was time to think about the dreaded W word. It was time to prepare myself for returning to the world of work. As much as I loved being a mummy and the flexibility of planning my own days (obviously centred around the demands of a baby and her very busy social diary!), I needed to find myself again.
Fraser was busy working each day and in the evenings had commitments training with his football team and rehearsing with the band he plays in. He had a number of responsibilities other than ‘just’ being a parent/husband (and, I must say, very good at that he is too!). But, through no fault of my own, I didn’t have any hobbies or recreational activities to take myself away to (I used to sing in a choir but had stopped so that I was around in the evening for Madeline), meaning that being a full-time mum had meant exactly that. I had embraced the mummy lifestyle and lived it to the full. But, now I felt it was time to do something for me.
The mummy guilt kicked in there and then, how on earth could I even consider leaving someone who so clearly needed and relied upon her mummy? Plus, I knew I would miss her far too much. So, how on earth would I go about this? Was I being selfish setting out to embark upon my own career and ambitions? The additional income would certainly benefit our little family, so surely that was reason in itself, but we had ‘coped’ thus far (my husband would definitely disagree, often pulling his hair out over statutory maternity pay!).
I decided that I would wait until Madeline was approaching a year old and, if work permitted, would return part-time. A luxury that I know many parents don’t have the choice to make and I was extremely grateful for. Also, thank goodness for such fab employers with family values at the forefront of the business… A must for any working mummy or daddy!
Since returning to work, I must admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve not only reminded myself of the pre-mummy me, but I’m fairly certain I’m more efficient than I ever was before and my organisational skills have improved dramatically. Being a mummy, you realise that time isn’t your own anymore and there’s absolutely no time for procrastination. Checking off that to-do list is the ultimate aim of the day and if I’m to get home for tea time, then there’s no time for plodding along.
Madeline is 100% my motivation and inspiration when I sit down at my desk each day. I don’t want us just to cope, but for her and her future brothers and sisters to have a life where they never go without. So, not only have I ‘found me’ as I set out to do, but through having a child have become a better version of the ‘working me’ than I once was (even if I do say so myself!).
And, how about Madeline? Well, we now have quality mummy/daughter days whenever I’m off and I cherish every single moment. There are a few less play dates with other mums and their babies, but we still make it work and have lots of fun together. Lazy days at home with a cheeky one-year-old, spending all day playing toys, singing nursery rhymes, reading books and having cuddles are by far my favourite way to spend the day.
And the fun doesn’t stop for Madeline who clearly has a fabulous time with the family that look after her while I’m at work (we are very fortunate). They all know to text me regular updates throughout the day as to what she’s up to. And, here’s the photographic evidence that she is full of smiles…
As for Fraser and I, we now have plenty to talk about in the evenings after tucking our beautiful little girl into bed. If anything, he often has to politely (sometimes not so politely) ask me to stop rambling on about work… He doesn’t have a clue what I’m on about and is clearly trying to watch the football… Oops!! 😝