The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Three}

The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Three}

The Diary of a Working Mum {Part Three}

Another stunning guest post from my beautiful friend Heather in our series (to read Heather’s other posts click here)

Feel the Fear and do it anyway

On October the 9th 2011, I went back to work. Nick and I had decided that he would take my first full week back as annual leave, so I could get to grips with my new responsibilities at the council, without the added worry of how Martha was settling in at nursery and whether or not her Grandparents had picked her up on time. I am so glad we staggered the new routine this way. It gave me breathing space and allowed me to gradually introduce the new routine to Martha, Nick and myself.

I immediately felt at home in my new job. Something, which I absolutely didn’t expect. My new colleagues were friendly, funny, understanding and if I’m honest, they were a breath of fresh air too after months of weigh in clinics, paediatric appointments to chart Martha’s progress, eye tests, ear tests… all the things that prem babies have to attend as part of their follow up. It felt so good to be back in the company of adults. People you can have a conversation with other than a gurgling, albeit delightful, nearly one year old, and I had a new sense of worth that I was contributing to an organisation, and I was bringing home money that I had earned, I must stress that for me, money is not a priority on my list as a motivation for working. I work because of how it makes me feel; confident, important, sane and happy. I actually took home more money on maternity leave than I did going back to work, but that wasn’t the point. I was back in the game, and it felt great.

Although my post at the council is a full time funded position, I had agreed with my new boss that I would work 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) with a view to increasing my hours when Martha started school. This worked perfectly for us as a family. I had one day in work, the next day with Martha and so on. It meant that if I had a bad night with Martha, I only needed to get through one tired day before I could catch up again. It worked amazingly. Plenty of people said ‘why don’t you get work out of the way for the week at the beginning of the week, then you could have Thursday, Friday and the weekend free for Martha?’ but that was totally not my mentality. I didn’t want to ‘get work out of the way’ I wanted to incorporate it back into my life. Make it a part of my week and look forward to it. Besides which, working Friday’s is brilliant, everyone else is on wind down and I come in ready for action! I don’t like monotony and the mixing up of my week suited me well. It made me appreciate both my time with Martha, and my time at work all the more, because by the end of each day, I was ready for the alternating next.

I had loved my time off with Martha. So many people don’t get as long as I did, and whilst it was wonderful to be with her, especially after all she and I had been through, I can now admit that I was (gasp) quite bored. Months of no routine to my day, nights where Nick would get back from work and I’d still be in the same clothes as when he left (i.e. pyjamas), Peppa Pig on TV and meeting with friends who also had become new mums, was not doing my mental health much good. I had no stimulation other than going to the gym when I wasn’t too tired, or cooking an elaborate meal for dinner because I had nothing better to do. I just didn’t feel like me. I wanted the old me back, and I wanted to show Martha what the old me was all about. I hated going to Mum and Baby groups because the women there were obsessed with their developing children and so competitive and I always felt like the underdog. I took Martha to Baby Massage once when she was tiny and she farted her way through the session attracting some disgruntled looks so I think we were both relieved to get out of there and never go back. Don’t get me wrong, we went on lovely walks, picnics, we joined the library, we visited my Gran every week, we ate in cafes, we sang, we danced, we became very familiar with the Trafford Centre but I felt I owed Martha more. Much more that I could give her if it was just us two.

They say that prem babies have an amazing mental capacity in the first two years of their life. Their physical development is often delayed, as was the case with Martha who took her first steps at nearly 20 months old. During this time when they are not yet strong enough to walk, their tiny minds are going ten to the dozen absorbing, processing and taking in so much more than would be normal for their age. Martha had made this apparent from Day 1. She is such a clever little soul. We always wanted her to be brave, to speak her mind, to share her opinion, and to ask questions. When I was small, I was often told not to be cheeky, not to answer back, and I used to be so frustrated because all I wanted to do was share my opinion. I now know that my Mum was probably just trying to referee 3 kids and was at the end of her tether most days, but I had just one child and I wanted her to have a voice.

Because Martha is an only child, and will be the only child we have, we felt is so important that she socialise and mix with other children. I am one of three, but Nick is an only child, and so was my Mum. I’m sure they would both agree that the importance of relationships with friends is paramount to the only child. Nick and I count our friends as family. They are part of us, and we them. Martha proudly boasts about her big family (we’re not a big family, she just includes our friends) and going to nursery certainly helped her socially and grew her confidence. As parents our job is to equip our children with the tools they need to prosper, to make relationships aside from us as parents; to be independent and have a stronghold on who they are as an individual, what they believe in and how to treat the world with compassion. I could not have taught Martha any of this as effectively as Playdays (her nursery) did.

At nursery school Martha met two friends called Abigail and Isobel who are one of the few sets of identical twins in the UK to have Downs Syndrome. Martha has known Abigail and Isobel since they were babies. She grew up with them and she learned sign language so she can communicate with them. We once bumped into Abigail and Isobel shopping with their Mum Jodi in Morrisons, so Martha shouted ‘Mum, there’s my friends, can we go and see them?’ I have never been more in awe of the amazing little people kids are when my 4 year old daughter started to sign to them and they had a conversation, whilst I stood there like a lemon wondering what the 3 of them were nattering about. How cool is that? In that moment, I had such a deep sense of contentment that I almost skipped for joy out of the supermarket.

My headstrong daughter was on her way, making her beautiful footprint in the world.

Going back to work was so much easier than I thought it would be. Yes, there are tough days, days when you struggle through on 45 minutes of sleep, days when you were up 6 times in the night, feeding, changing bums, changing vomit covered sheets, wiping up nosebleeds and soothing teary nightmares. We’ve had some rough bumps along the way which I will share in my next post and there have been many times when my choices have been called into question, not just by others but by me also. But having this added purpose in my life, this independence, this work ethic, this routine and this life was ultimately absolutely the right thing for me and my family to do. We made the right choice for us, and that’s all any of us can do.

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