So I’m back in the office, having joined the ranks of working mothers. Today, I reached a major milestone – my first childcare crisis. Wednesday is Granny day, but Granny was ill, and nursery was – horror – full to capacity. I was grounded. I spent a good couple of hours floundering around the flat, trying to come to terms with this change to my routine; then ringing to warn my appointments that we would be joined at lunch/coffee by a third, very small party (who, I’m glad to say, behaved tolerably well).
I’m not ashamed to say that, nearly three months on, it feels pretty darn good to be working again. I admit I entertained the idea of not going back – it seemed a very attractive idea when a full-time job was sapping all my energy. But I was talked out of this by my rather more practical partner, and am all the happier for it.
Just like before, I love my job. It helps that it’s a nice one, digging deep into the heart of the place where I live. At times, three days a week seems barely enough – I invariably reach Thursday evening thinking: “Already?” and hankering for more.
Not that I don’t relish the prospect each evening of coming home to a little person who looks thrilled to see me, puffing and panting her way in a high speed crawl to greet me at the door. It’s one of the best parts of my day. But while other mums tell me how much they miss their bubbas, I have to confess I’m too busy for that during the working day.
Should I feel guilty? One mummy friend recently told me it had taken five years of trying to fall pregnant; now she just wanted to be with her son, and had no plans to go back to work. Another wasn’t terribly satisfied with her job, and her husband earned enough to allow her to quit. It’s great that women have the choice these days, although of course, some have to work for financial reasons.
For me, a year’s maternity leave was the next best option. Other mums have taken different periods – nine months was a popular choice, no doubt because it’s the maximum paid leave. The final three months saw my payslips come back marked with zeroes, which was tough-going; I’m not used to going cap in hand to the man of the house.
Being back at work not only gives me an independent money stream, but also reminds me of who I was before I became a mother. I’m still that person, but my life is richer and my outlook less selfish. I knew having a baby would mean making sacrifices, but they have been immeasurably rewarded by the sheer joy of raising a little one.
Admittedly, the leisurely pace I adopted on mat leave has gone, as I try to squeeze every minute out of each day. I’ve certainly got my mojo back; I dash around on work days, and I’m a demon with the buggy, especially if I’ve been on the mochas.
The imminent departure of my job share partner offered the ideal opportunity to increase my hours – but much as I would love to do more, I know my work life balance is right just as it is. Full-time, I would no doubt be at my desk at 6pm each day, wishing I were at home.
As it is, the long weekend is a welcome indulgence, and one which enables me to travel around Cornwall, picking up stories to feed my insatiable desire to discover more about this fabulous county. On Monday, Daughter and I visited the Eden Project to celebrate the opening of its new restaurant; more on this coming very soon.