I don’t know where the time has gone, but I’ve already been back at work for a month. Yep, how the hell did that happen? Before I went back I shared my thoughts about returning to work (read about it here), so now I’m looking at it from the other side, from the perspective of a working mum.
I’m new to this working mum business, but never did I think it would be this hard to juggle everything. I’m not by any means sooking, because that wouldn’t be fair to all of the women that do this every day and just get on with it, but it’s definitely a huge adjustment. The hardest thing is finding that balance between being a loving present mum and being fulfilled in my career. So many people have told me that I can’t have both, but I don’t want to listen to the naysayers, I desperately want to make it work for both of us.
Initially, I only planned to go back to work three days a week, but that didn’t go down all that well with my boss, so after some negotiation, we agreed that I’d go back to work four days a week, three in the office and one from home. My job has always been really demanding, so it was pretty normal for me to put in massive days in the office to stay on top of things, but I was ignorantly hoping that things would be different when I went back. What an idiot! One day back in the office and I was right back into my old routine pulling 10-12 hour days. I was so flat out that I didn’t even have time to check in, let alone even think about my little man. When I realised it was already 6pm and I hadn’t stopped to see how he was going, I felt so guilty. To make me feel even worse, by the time I got home, he was ready to go to bed, so I didn’t get to spend any time with him at all.
The problem is that this is just the nature of my work, so I either suck it up and stay or I look for another job which is less demanding. As torn as I am and as guilty as I feel, I know I’d never be content in a lesser role and I think I’m a much better mum, if I’m content in what I’m doing. So I’ve made the decision, to give my job 110% on my working days and then on my non working days, spend quality time with my son. It’s not easy, but for the most part I’m making it work. I don’t feel that my career is having a negative impact on my son and I spend most of my time away from work focusing on him to make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything. The hardest part is that some how in all of that, I still need to stay on top of my housework, exercise and maintain my sanity, but I’ll find a way to make it all work because where there is a will there’s a way and I definitely have a will.
Another thing I struggle with is the judgement from other people. If you don’t work, you get the whole ‘oh, you’re not going back to work?’, then if you do go back to work, you get the ‘you’re working four days? Isn’t that too much? Who is looking after the baby?’, or you get the, ‘you’ve gone back to work already? Isn’t it early? Isn’t he a bit young?’. So you’re a bad mum if you don’t work, but then you’re just as bad if you work too much. Rightey-o, you pretty much can’t win! So I say to hell with all of them. I feel more than enough guilt for leaving my son three days a week, I don’t need any more guilt from anyone else. I continually question if I’m doing the right thing, if I’m being selfish and if my absence will have a negative impact on my son. All I know is I’m being the best mum that I know how to be and to be the best mum to my son, I also need to be happy and fulfilled in my own life. For me that comes from spending time with him and having a successful career, or taking some time out to do the things that I enjoy.
As hard as it is, I’m not the first and I definitely won’t be the last woman to juggle work, kids and everything else that life throws at us, but like all of the other women that have done it before me, I too will find a way to make it work, it’ll just take some time.