I’m due to return to work in 12 weeks. I’ve had my head in the sand about organising childcare, because firstly I don’t want to think about going back just yet, and secondly I had no idea I was supposed to have had childcare in place before she was actually born. I’m now in a world of stress thinking that I won’t get any organised in time and I’m due back.
I have a small hope that they’ve decided they don’t need me, and they want to make me redundant. I was wrong when I thought I could go back to work 4 days a week, and wrong when I thought I’d be ready after 7 months on maternity leave. Most women I know went back when their baby was 6 months so I assumed I’d be the same. I now wish I’d said I’d come back after 9 months off, when the SMP stops and that I’d come back 3 days. Unfortunately things have gone wrong at work – my replacement left at xmas, further temporary cover never materialised meaning everyone’s workload has increased to fully absorb mine, and they’ve taken on another part time member of staff for a full time workload. I won’t be allowed to drop a day, because it definitely doesn’t fit with the business need, and I feel very obligated to return when I said I would and stick to my word.
I’m torn – whilst I do want to go to work (not working at all isn’t an option, I have a loan to pay) I don’t really want to go back to a high pressure job. Work is no longer my number one priority, and whilst I believed people when they told me I’d feel like this – it’s still come as a shock. Work just doesn’t matter as much, because this beautiful little lady needs me more than any job ever will. I miss the social interaction of being back at work, and I miss being good at my job, and the satisfaction I get from that. But I don’t feel completely unfulfilled by not working, I’ve found that being a Mum can be very fulfilling and very rewarding. I do feel that going out to work will be the missing piece to the jigsaw – everything will slot into place.
I know that I don’t want to be at home full time, but grasping on tightly to the career I’ve carved out just doesn’t seem so important now. I simply need money to pay my bills, to give me some to contribute to our home bills and mortgage and then to give me a small amount left to have as “my” money. I need the social interaction of being around grown ups. But I don’t need to thrive on the pressure any more.
I’ve told myself that I’ll go back (assuming I manage to sort childcare and don’t have to bring Daisy and hide her in my desk drawer), and I’ll give it a month. I’ll see how I feel. If I think four days is too much, and I can’t cope with the pressure and the demands of being a Mum then I’ll look for something else. I’ll have to take a pay cut, but I’d hopefully find something closer to home, that I don’t need to use childcare as much for.
Of course I feel guilty for wanting to go to work, for having to leave Daisy. But I’d feel more guilty if Phil had to pay my loan for me, and pay all our bills and then give me money on top of that so I could have a social life. We are a team, and if I turned round and said I’m not going back he would support me but we’d struggle financially. I squandered money I didn’t have on clothes, shoes and going out whilst at uni and continued to live beyond my means after uni, and I have to pay that back – it’s my responsibility to pay that. In hindsight I should have been completely debt free before having Daisy. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing…
I suppose the thought of work is the worst thing, and that once I go back and dry my eyes from the tears I cry each time I leave Daisy, it’ll get easier and will become normal. Other women manage it, and I will too. And I will cherish every moment I get on my day off with Daisy.