I’ll be honest this isn’t exactly my dream scenario. I’d love to be a stay-at-home mummy, playing with Emily, helping her to explore the world and comforting her when she’s sad. I’m jealous of all stay-at-home parents.
Dan is a stay-at-home dad, well ish. This was a tough decision. I really didn’t want to go back to work but everything said it was the best thing for our family. Me going back to work full time meant that financially Dan didn’t have to work at all, Emily would be at home with one or both of us at all times and best of all we would get weekends and 13 weeks holiday a year together as family. Plus I get to use my qualifications and keep my career going. Good, right?
The problem is that going work breaks my heart everyday. Each morning I get out of bed and have to leave the rest of my family behind for 9-10 hours or more. One morning Emily said “Mummy” just as I climbed out of bed and I was on the verge of tears all day. Every night when I put her to bed I know that will be another 21 hours before I get a proper cuddle and to play with her again. It’s making me cry just thinking about it!
I trust Dan completely with looking after Emily and she adores him. But the emotional and physical impact that being away from her has on me is huge and goes almost unacknowledged by my place of work. But I think the same is true of most work places. Women who return to work are expected to carry on as they left off. They are expected to commit fully, do overtime, hang around for late meetings and not think about that tiny human that they are leaving behind. I’ve had several parents evenings and what not recently and I just cannot bring myself to stay at work and not see Emily that day. It’s an awful thought and I don’t know why anyone should expect me to do it either.
When I first went back to work I was expressing 2-3 times a day. In my own time. I’d have a pump in one hand and a sandwich in the other then chuck the milk in fridge and head straight back off to teach or whatever I was doing. After my first full week back at work I remember driving home on the Friday evening and literally cheering because I could “just breastfeed” over the weekend, rather than all the other paraphernalia. It is so draining.
Now don’t get me wrong I don’t dislike my job, before I became a parent I loved teaching. I’d regularly do 12 hour days, offer to work weekends and take work home in the evenings too. But now any part of my job that keeps me away from Emily and Dan any longer than I have to just makes me hate it more and more and I don’t want to feel like that.
The work of mothers is completely overlooked by our patriarchal society. Yes, feminists fought for my right to a career and respect whilst I’m at it, but now we need feminism to fight for motherhood. There are many mothers out there who have chosen to stay at home with their children and they too face emotional challenges coming to terms with things such as dependence on their partners for income and falling behind in their careers. It seems unfair that our choices do not receive the respect they deserve from society.
All I really ask from anyone is not to assume that I’m glad for a chance to sit down and a cuppa tea or that I’m happy that I’m able maintain my career or that I’m lucky my husband let me come back to work, because I want nothing more than to be at home with my husband and daughter. These comments could not be further from the truth. (Don’t misinterpret this as me wanting to steal my husband’s time with my daughter. I appreciate his right to be with her too.)
When I was younger, my parents said that if I worked hard enough I could be anything I want to be. Well now I want to be a stay-at-home mother, how hard do I have to work for that?