Monday the 22nd January 2018. The date has been looming large throughout my maternity leave. The dreaded return to work.
Every time someone has asked me when I’m going back, I’ve put on my best grimace and said the date through gritted teeth.
But here’s the thing…
I was pretending y’all! I’ve secretly been thinking ‘ooh only 19 weeks/8 weeks/whatever until I get to go to the toilet on my own again, eat my lunch in peace and do the commute whilst singing power ballads at the top of my lungs’ (don’t worry I’m in a car not on the metro).
I love my job you see! I work teaching Sport to adults with learning disabilities. I love my colleagues and most of all I love the clients we work with. It’s a job with a buzz, with an endorphin rush, where you know for a fact you’re doing something which is making people happy.
But (get ready to grab a tissue), it’s a job I no longer have due to the funding running out. One day when I have more time and perhaps can channel my disappointment eloquently, I’ll write a blog entitled ‘Austerity Bollocks’. But for now, I’m just reflecting on (aka shitting myself about) all the ways me not going back to work is going to change things for us as a family.
I asked the kids what they thought about me not going to work for a while and their responses were fairly typical of them:
Dylan: Ah get in! Means you’ll have time to make me packed lunches every day!
(No I will friggin not mate.).
Jonah: Oh. Ok well you might get a bit lonely. And a bit chubby.
(There’s every chance.)
Looking at it positively; I’m really looking forward to just spending some time with my little legend Ellis and seeing some of the milestones that maybe I missed with the other two. He’s great craic to hang out with you know, he laughs at all my jokes. Sometimes they’re so funny he literally pisses himself. And I know you’re not supposed to have favourites but since he’s the only one of my three kids who doesn’t a)ask me on a daily basis why I had that ‘horrible’ haircut or b)accuse me of wanting him to die because I’ve put broccoli on his plate; he is top dog in my eyes at the moment. He will be until he learns to speak, which sadly he will one day.
Now I’ll hold my hands up; I, Judgey McJudgerson, have been known to have conversations with other working Mams in the school yard along the lines of ‘oh my god, I could NEVER not work! I mean; what would you DO all day!? And what would you have to talk about!?’
In the last few weeks I’ve had time to think about, and worry about, how people will see me as a housewife, stay-at-home-mum, full-time mummy. Aren’t they all awful insipid titles!?
Along with a severe phobia of vomiting and a passion for afternoon teas, my lovely mother instilled in me a super-strong work ethic. Our job/career is part of what defines us isn’t it; and so not having one feels, dare I say it, a bit lazy.
In an effort to see things objectively; I’ve been thinking about all the things I admire about the best girls in my life (and let me tell you, I have some bloody tremendous girls). Their humour, their loyalty, their ability to drink three bottles of prosecco and not throw up, their love for their families, their fashion sense, their ambition, their kindness, their willingness to loan out their shoes. It’s made me realise; we are SO much more than our 9-5’s!
Now it’s easy for me to sit here like some wannabe ‘middle-class-Mary’ and go, ‘ooh it’s going to be so lovely to just take time out to be at one with my child’. I realise I would feel altogether different if I couldn’t rely on my husband to pay the bills for the time being and I was desperately applying for jobs anywhere and everywhere. That’s where I could really get on my austerity bollocks high-horse.
I acknowledge I’m lucky. I’m just saying that as women (or men!) with young children, maybe we can look at other ways to value ourselves if we find that we are at home with the kids as primary carer/domestic slave.
There are loads of other things I can do to be useful and valuable. I’ve finally got round to becoming a befriender for the elderly (although the poor buggers are going to be gutted when I rock up with three lunatic kids… ‘Hiya Pat, I’m here to keep you company while me kids trash your sitting room ok?’). I can see more of my friends instead of texting them every 6 months saying ‘god it’s been far too long since we managed to meet up!’. I might even get more involved with my local Labour Party to see what can be done about the austerity bollocks…
So there you have it. Start of a new chapter. It won’t be forever, so I’m going to try my best to enjoy it! Don’t be frightened to talk to me, I promise I won’t have my sense of humour dissolved by daytime TV…in fact I might get a bit funnier cos I’ll have loads of time to just sit at home practising one liners and laughing at my own jokes. Alone. In a darkened room. Rocking.
I’m sure I’ll be absolutely fine; but if you ask me what I’ve been up to and I look right through you and murmur ‘I like to make…quiche…’ Do the decent thing. Stage an intervention.