This is my fifth week back at work and you know what? – it’s actually going pretty well. Well, when I say it’s going pretty well, I mean it’s going pretty well when Richmond Baby is in full health and not suffering from some virus that leaves her miserable, with a bad cough, and snotty nose, and now a rash around her mouth. Sigh. It’s going pretty well if I manage to keep the laundry going in and out of the machine so we don’t have to go to work in our pyjamas. It’s going pretty well if I can drop baby off at nursery without tears and wailing (her, not me, although sometimes me…) and I can work leave by 5.30/5.45pm in order to get home and spend some time with her to do bath, bottle, and bedtime routine. And of course, it goes really well if I manage to do a full day’s work without keeling over at my desk from tiredness and hunger (sometimes lunch just doesn’t really happen!).
But no, really, it’s going as well as to be expected, given that it’s early days and we’re all adjusting to this new way of life. But it has had me thinking, about the things from the glory days of maternity leave that I miss…
I miss the time I got to spend with my beautiful little girl, all day, every day. But you know what as she’s getting older, it was getting tougher and tougher to be as entertaining and as patient and as full of beans as I felt I needed to be to keep her happy and me sane 7-days a week, 12 hours a day. But still, I wish I had more time with her than just an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and then Friday to Sunday, but at least working 4-days a week instead of 5 helps to keep a balance.
I miss the lazy mornings. Yes, I would still be up with the lark on the whole, Richmond Baby usually wakes sometime between 6-7am. But at least I could then mooch around in my PJs if I needed to until whatever time suited me. Now I have to be up and showered and dressed (in something other than PJs, in something positively smart!) and out of the house by 7.45-8am and that can sometimes be tough.
I miss that Sunday evening “I don’t have to go to work in the morning” feeling. It’s not that I don’t like work, I do, it’s just that feeling on a Sunday night that you don’t have to go anywhere on Monday morning, that’s a pretty smug feeling and I quite liked it!
I miss that “no responsibilities” feeling. I mean clearly I had one huge responsibility – looking after my baby girl, keeping her safe and well and happy, but that aside, I didn’t have any work responsibilities, because, well, I didn’t have any work! No concerns about delivering a particular campaign, no concerns about responding to a pressing email from a client, no concerns about meeting prep or proofing documents or making time for a team of people looking to you to help make decisions. It made me feel quite “light” and that was nice.
I miss the, yes I can take that appointment even if it is on a Tuesday at 3.25pm flexibility. You can get SO MUCH done when you’re around and about during the week. You can go where you please, when you please, you don’t have to clock in and clock out, and your time is your own. I rather liked that feeling.
I miss the play-dates with my fellow mummies and babies. The time spent at Gymboree, or at baby yoga, or some other mother and baby playgroup/music class. Singing humpty dumpty or the wheels on the bus, not a care in the world, dancing around the room to a bouncy, boingy soundtrack, baby in arms, giggling and happy. Not a lot of that sort of thing happens on the average Wednesday in an office environment (maybe I should think about introducing it…).
But hey, nothing stays the same right? And maybe, if I hadn’t gone back to work, if I had stayed in the maternity leave bubble, which would have evolved into simply the stay-at-home-mum bubble, maybe I wouldn’t have just carried on enjoying all the same things I did in that first idyllic year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there would have been tons about being a stay-at-home mum that I would have adored, but actually, right now, while it’s a challenge and we’re all still adjusting, I think the decision to go back to work has been the right one.