Thursday, August 14, 2008

You can go your own waayyyyyyyyy.......

Today this Fleetwood Mac classic has played itself on repeat round and round in my head.

One of the main things that has pained me so in recent weeks is the return to work issue.

It became clear to me some months ago that conceptually I really did wish to return to work. I had become very worried about my skills diminishing as time wore on, as big changes developed in my field over the last 12 months. I worried about throwing away 6 years of university study. Perhaps a bit over the top, evidencing a self confidence diminished by time away from work, but there it is. I have missed my "old" life terribly, much more than I ever imagined. I never expected to feel so isolated, so lonely when I took on this job of motherhood. Not in a million years.

The greatest stumbling block for me has been reconciling my concerns about the return to work with my issues related to leaving Little B in the care of others whilst I go to work for 2 days a week.

Working form home, part time job juggling, family looking after Little B, child care, family day care - all theoretically options from which we could have chosen. As the months passed and our talks with bosses were unsuccessful, family politics played out and waiting lists lengthened, eventually only really one true option revealed itself, pursuing child care at a creche.

Everyone in sight has had an opinion. And not been shy about sharing it.

"Child care is no good for one so little - he will get sick all of the time, he does not need to socialise with others for so long in any one day." " Childcare will be great - variety of play and environs, can only be good." "Some balance in everyones' life will be the best thing for all of you." "Why do women these days have children if they are just going to put them into care?"

Worst of all I have been saddened and disappointed to experience the most negative of views from other women. Some of whom I have absolutely no doubt have been in the position I find myself in now. Some of whom I thought I had tried pretty bloody well hard to support when they had to make some big decisions in their lives.

I suppose naively I thought that the whole point of the "sisterhood" was to provide non judgmental support to one another in times of need, in times of questioning and in times of hardship. Not so. In my experience anyway.

In recent weeks mothers group catch ups, coffees with friends and family gatherings (including Little B's birthday party) have each felt like mini battle grounds.

As my twelve months of leave are well and truly up, every time without fail I have been asked, so when are you returning to work? There seemed to be no right answer. The question to me implied I should return to work, not waste my skills, that it would not be right for me to stay at home even a little longer. But a discussion about the logistics, the actualities of returning to work oft resulted in (what I probably sensitively) felt was stinging criticism. I have never felt so reluctant to go out and socialise.

I have spent alot of the time following these discussions feeling like an absolute failure.

Do I not have the mental toughness to "hack" this endurance sport of motherhood. I am so lucky to have a lovely son. I know that some people struggle to ever bring a family into this world. They grow so quickly. Why do I wish to spend less time with him?

Guilt has been my constant companion - Should I give up everything I knew pre baby for a little longer, until our family is complete? Is it wrong to want to have a little time to myself? Ironically to have to go back to my (back breaking!) paid employment to receive a break from my mothering role? To take a long term view of things in terms of finances and opportunities for my family? To want to take some of the burden off Mr B who has literally worked himself into the ground physically in the last year in an attempt to compensate for the loss of my breadwinning income?

I have let anger eat away at my insides. What is this concept of feminism, this theory that women can have it all effortlessly? Cranky that the government seemingly does so little to give value to women who stay at home and women who attempt to return to work. Furious at family members who made promises and then failed to come through with the goods. Upset that in my case anyway, there is not a traditional "village" to which Mr B and I belong, can contribute to and which can help our family too.

Last week we were offered a place at a child care centre near our places of work.

After spending some time getting to know the ladies who would be looking after our little one, chatting to the parents who leave their similarly aged children we decided to take it. Two days a week.

I have spent most of this week orientating Little B at his new "school". A few hours a day. Today was the first day I left him on his own. At 9.30am I found myself searching for a venue which served alcohol so that I could have a calming beverage. I had to settle for a coffee and crepe. The guy who served my breakfast seemed non plussed to be confronted by the teary woman who anxiously kept checking her phone and sobbing whilst gulping down her coffee.

Within 30 minutes I received a call. Little B went to sleep no worries! I never felt so relieved. And perhaps a teeny bit put out! When I collected him I learned that he had eaten lots of lunch and played happily on his own and with the other children. He is ready, I am informed, as much as he can be, to try a full day.

And I am ready now too. To give it all a go anyway. To make an informed decision about whether or not it is working for our family in a few months' time.

Like Big Cat , I am looking forward to Spring. The sun. The longer hours of light. Colour. Flowers. Garden. Routine. Some balance. Going my own way!


CurlyPops said...

That's so sad that friends and family haven't been supportive. When my friends have been in that situation, I don't offer advice, I just listen to what they have to say and let them work out what is best for their family, and then support the decision.
Every family is different and they shouldn't be criticised for the choices that they make.

Hoppo Bumpo said...

Good luck Belinda - I hope everything works out in the best way possible for you. It sounds like a very positive start so far.

I reckon "having-it-all" should mean having all the things that are important to your family ... not doing all the things that other people think you should!

But then that's just my opinion ... and you might not need too many more of those at the moment :)

BigCat said...

Bring on Spring and bring it soon.

It sounds like its been quite a rollercoaster ride. Good on you for taking it all in your stride as best you can.

It will be lovely to have a good stitch and bitch next weekend.

potty mouth mama said...

It is SO difficult to make these decisions. I always felt I was fumbling my way through. I am lucky enough to work from home, but I still struggle with knowing if what I am doing is the right thing. Just be confident, you, and only you, know what is right for your little family. Sounds like Little B transitioned well. Here's to flourishing further!