I mentioned last week that I had gone back to work for a few days, and how that had affected our little weekly routine. I've mentioned before that, before I became Isabelle's slave, I was a Geography teacher in a really great school. I was there for 3 years and adored every second of working with my lovely friends, and with some wonderful kids. So, when my school rang me before Easter to ask if I would be able to come down and help them out with some cover work, I was really excited to get back to see everyone, catch up with friends, and generally throw myself back in to the swing of school life.
But, of course, going to work meant one huge thing – leaving Isabelle. Until the first day I went down to school, when she was 13 months old, she and I had never been apart for more than 5 hours. And suddenly we were faced with a very long 9 hour day apart. I had hoped to ease her in to this slowly, getting her to stay with my parents for longer stretch gradually, but we never got round to it as I didn't want to leave her, and so we were thrown in with no practise runs behind us.
Luckily, I actually felt pretty great about it. Over the last few months, Isabelle has become even more attached to my mum and dad than she already was. She and my dad, in particular, have struck up a great friendship, and she can’t get enough of him or my mum even when I am there! So I knew that she would be OK for the most part, but did worry about how she would cope without her milk, getting down for her naps, and whether she would get upset and miss me...
I left for school, and I have to admit I had a few tears as I drove away, leaving Simon to pack her off to my parents. According to their reports, she had the most marvellous day, was in great form, and generally had a whale of a time. When I arrived home, desperate to see her, she gave me a big smile, toddled over, pulled down my top and made it abundantly clear that I am only good for one thing! (OK, two things I guess!)
As for me, I had a fabulous day as well. It was great to be back at school, and even though I wasn’t teaching Geography, I got to wander around drinking tea, chatting to people, and giving the evil eye to kids – all my favourite things!
But…it was one day. One day in a week of 7. And even though I have done more days since then, it’s not anywhere near full time, just a few days here and there. And, to be honest, that is plenty for me. Even though Isabelle is now almost 14 months, I just cannot stomach the thought of leaving her all day every day, and not getting to spend that time with her. I mentioned in a post earlier this month that I had been selectively applying for jobs, and the thought of anything full time is now something I just know I couldn’t handle – even though she will be almost 18 months come September!
All of this leaves me in absolute awe of working mothers - those who don’t have a choice but to work, those who adore their jobs and want to work…all of them. Because even though I loved my time back at work, it wasn't easy in many respects. My house didn't get cleaned, my dogs were locked up all day, I only had time to make quick meals, I was so tired by the time Iz was in bed that I barely spoke to Simon....trying to be all things to all people is hard. And I can’t imagine doing it 5 days a week. I complained about my workload when I was working full time. I complain about how much I do at home now. I cannot fathom how these incredible women who work and run a home manage to fit ALL of that in, every single day of the year. Having time to make healthy meals, spend time with your little people, do your washing, shopping…just everything. I do not know how they do it.
So, to all working mothers – whether you work full time, part time, by choice, or by necessity, I absolutely salute you! Nobody will ever know – until they are in your situation – how much you do, how hard it can be, how much you sacrifice, and how little time it leaves for you to just be YOU.
Working mothers often get pretty beaten up on all sides - those who think they aren't as good at their jobs because they have the distractions of kids at home, and those who think they aren't as good a parent as they have the distraction of work. And I imagine they beat themselves up most of all. It's pretty rare that people stop, take stock of all they do and think "Bloody hell. I couldn't do that!" Because I know for sure that, right now while Isabelle is so young, there is no way I could count myself in the same league as these wonderful mothers.