So, after a big countdown, I’m off!… Off work that is… and not just for Christmas… off for maternity leave, for baby number two: due 25th January. I’m not sure it’s fully sunk in yet, not least because lots of people around me are finishing up at work for Christmas and I have Fridays off work anyway, so it’ll probably become more real come January, when others are heading back into the office, and I’ll have no particular place to be.
It’s been almost a full year of being back at work post maternity leave with Allegra. I wasn’t sure how I would fare being back in the working world after a year of being a SAHM with my gorgeous girl, enjoying play dates and mother and baby classes, pootling around Richmond and generally living a very different life to the one I’d been used to over the previous ten or so years of being in a busy PR world. But truth be told, it was the best year of my life and I truly had a whale of a time being at home, so wasn’t sure going back to work would be a smart move.
But back I went and while at times it has been a slog, it has been knackering juggling a full-on job and being a mummy, I haven’t regretted it and it has by and large been a really good year for me at work, so I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. Yes, there have been times when I’ve felt truly exhausted, or guilty, or disappointed with myself for being short-tempered with Allegra on occasions because I was feeling tired or stressed, but overall it has worked out: not least thanks to Richmond Daddy being a big help and very supportive too (although there is room for improvement when it comes to tidying up… but in the spirit of feeling charitable at Christmas, I won’t labour that point…).
When I found out I was pregnant with baby number two earlier this year, I felt a mixture of emotions – surprise, excitement, fear and trepidation about going through pregnancy and birth again, and a little bit unsettled about the fact that I’d be planning to leave work again what felt like so soon after only just returning. But as the year has unfolded I have become more and more excited about the new addition to our family and also the chance to spend more time at home with both the new baby but also my gorgeous and entertaining little toddler girl. Lately Allegra has been saying “no work mummy, no nursery, stay home mummy” to me too every morning, which has made it even harder to drop her off and head to the office, so it’s lovely to be able to spend more time with her at home now.
So, the 20th of December finally rolled around and after much anticipation, yesterday was my last day in the office. After a frantic week of tying up loose ends and handovers with colleagues, that’s it, I’m done, no more I can do, I now leave everything on the campaigns I was responsible for in the hands of my very smart and excellent work mates, wishing them all the best (while also feeling a smidge guilty about how busy they’ll be come January… eek!).
I think I honestly slept better last night than I have done for a very long time, just knowing that a wealth of responsibility and pressure and deadlines and client expectations were no longer on my shoulders. Yes of course I know that being at home with a baby and toddler isn’t exactly going to be stress free, but it’s a different kind of pressure and more than anything I’m just going to relish the time I’ll have back again: time that is my own, to do with what I want, time that I can spend with Allegra, time I can share with the new baby, time to re-energise my somewhat neglected blog, time to do “stuff” that I never get around to doing, time to be a better wife and look after Richmond Daddy and our home in a way that I just haven’t been able to do this year. I’m not suggesting I’m going to become Nigella and Supernanny and a Stepford Wife all rolled into one, but I’m just looking forward to the time out that maternity leave gives you, after being at work this past year where I’ve just been trying to keep my head above water juggling work and family life, which has left me with little opportunity or energy to do much else.
I have woken up today feeling happy and excited. Christmas is on the horizon and plenty of family time is on the cards, the arrival of our new baby is around the corner, and I have nothing more to think about now than all the fun things I’m going to plan for me and Allegra (and in time the new baby) to do together over the coming year. I know it’s not all going to be hearts and roses, but I have a good feeling about 2013 and for me, that starts today!