I’m looking forward to going back to work. There, I said it.
I’ve got an interesting job. I love being challenged. I feel like I can make a difference. I’ve had a job since I was 15. I like working.
I’ve just spent the morning piecing the house back together after a regular destruction from the boys. I’ve been putting together different parts of different toys for over an hour. I’ve swept the kitchen floor about 75 times in the last two days. I madly wipe down surfaces in case a neighbour pops by (one recently told me that that our predecessors ‘kept the place immaculate and they also had three boys…’). The freezer is overflowing with home made baby purée. I’ve scaled mountains of laundry that are more frightening than Everest. I can empty the dishwasher with a baby in my arms in under 3.5 minutes. I jiggle the babe on my hip while taking care of chores and scorching chicken nuggets for hungry mouths.
But this isn’t me. It isn’t us. Even as a full time parent, our furniture is stained, our car is filthy and our children never have matching socks. And to be honest, I don’t care. There is more to life, and for me, that means getting back to the coal face. My brain is screaming to be put back into a work gear.
I haven’t often admitted out loud that I’m looking forward to getting back to work, but I’ve been trying it more often, and actually it’s ok. Mums get it. Many have been through it and all have had to make tough decisions. It has opened up a whole new world of playground conversation.
Social pressure continues to be painfully contradictory. Girls should do well at school, get a career, be obsessed with marriage, give it all up for children. Women who go back to work are bad mothers and those who stay at home are sad. It is simply not so two dimensional.
In this house, Rich and I are the CEO’s. But we are also the cleaners, caterers, drivers and dogsbodies. There’s only so much bum wiping you can take. My job on the other hand, is a challenge. It’s busy but it’s also rewarding. I’m asked my opinion. I’m listened to (sometimes). If there’s a problem, I do my best to fix it. There are procedures, colleagues, resources. Grown ups are (usually) rational, logical, reasonable. This week I’ve made time to visit some working women chums. These inspiring, smart women are out there doing it and fully reinforced my choice to go back to work. So while I have enormous respect for full time parents (and it is by far the hardest job I’ve ever done) it’s not for me. This week I’ve talked more about making a difference, strengthening communities, fixing challenges than sleep patterns and nappies. We work hard our whole lives and then are expected to give it all up as soon as the kids come along. It doesn’t make any sense. The boys are a massively important part of my life, but they aren’t my whole life. They don’t define me. They enrich my life. As does my work.
I’ve intentionally written this blog while I’m feeling strong about heading back. At a time when my head is ruling over my heart. Of course, I will miss my mummy colleagues, we have spent hours mentoring, coaching, and problem solving. I’ll miss the breast feeding, and the beautiful baby so peaceful and dependent in my arms. I’ll miss the time with each of these boys. So I’ll continue to live on the brink of tears for a while longer as we navigate back into the work life balance. As my head battles with my heart. As my body readjusts. As all of those social pressures settle and the voices quiet down. This is what’s right for our family.
Today was the baby’s settling in session for nursery. He was to go for two hours in the morning. I had my first free moments fully planned: coffee house with discrete crying corner duly selected, anti-diet pastry on standby, guilty pleasure gossip mag at the ready. Instead, I was treated this morning to a vomiting three year old over breakfast and a vomiting five year old on the school run. So my tranquil morning, which was more about me than the baby, was thoroughly disrupted by poorly little boys. Baby was fine at nursery and was sound asleep at pick up. Boys spent the day veering between nausea and normal. And I had a good reminder that life goes on. Though I may never get the stench of strawberry petit filous vomit out of the car, the kids know they are loved and that they are safe. Working parents or not.