I have always loved working. I’d had Saturday and weekend jobs as a teen; the thrill of your first wage packet, then each one afterwards.
I’ve moaned about different days at work, had tears of sadness and of course the laughter.
My weekend jobs consisted of hairdressing salons, a residential home or photography, the last one I loved!! (I wish I had pursued it).
I left school wanting to be a hairdresser, but quickly realised my mistake and went for a job in the care industry.
There I stayed for many, many years. I switched from different employers but always within the same industry.
From a small residential home to a cottage hospital; to care at home, to a much bigger hospital. I had always loved working.
Having Babies and Maternity
When I went onto Maternity and had babies there were moments where I thought about not returning to work, how I’d miss them, the dread of missing out on all their important moments. But once I had returned I’d always liked it and there was never any question I’d be a stay at home mum. At the time we were lucky to fit child care in with family and friends; it worked well. It felt important to me to keep some kind of social aspect outside of being a Mum. The balance felt right.
I ended up losing my job at the bigger hospital; I was devastated – but I came to other opportunities and was able to experience other things as an agency; and found it even easier to balance home and work life. Things at home then changed; I fell pregnant again, then I wrote my car off (not my fault), I became ill with the pregnancy condition Hyperemesis which saw me having to give up work, or at least take maternity a lot earlier than planned. Luckily for me, these employers were really accommodating to this. When our much-loved baby didn’t make it home; it left me feeling incredibly confused about everything I had ever done since beginning my working life – literally everything changed.
It didn’t take me long to decide that I could not return to doing care work; I told my employers and they told me I could go back anytime. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to.
Staying At Home
With the aftermath and a new pregnancy I didn’t return to any work; I became a stay at home Mum; not only did I have the hyperemesis again; but of course there was no way I could face it; particularly when I knew I would be starting something brand new – I had no clue what.
I remained a stay at home Mum for three years; we had two babies in that time; I did do the occasional freelance work here and there; but nothing on the scale of making “real” money.
Being a Mummy after an Infant Loss.
It has been wonderful being able to stay at home with them, make memories, do more things with them; not rushing through life. I was able to do more baby groups with baby number 4 and for a short while with baby number 5.
Being a parent after loss certainly changes you; your perspective on life and what is important – but the ugly side was being too scared to leave them with anyone else; too scared to miss out on a moment, even a second of their life; it can be incredibly suffocating and very isolating; which in turn led me to make a new decision.
In 2015, when our youngest turned 4 months old (the same age my eldest was when I returned to work with her); an opening came at the school my children attend; it was to only be an hour and a half a week; but I felt it was an hour and a half of being me again. It wasn’t about escaping the baby or not wanting to be around her; but I really and maybe even selfishly wanted some time to myself, and that was to go to work, even if it was only a very short period per week.
I love it. Working with children is not something I ever imagined doing as a job, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. Well apart from writing full time!! I have increased my hours; it hasn’t been easy to arrange child care; family members aren’t always available and childcare comes at a price. But we have sussed it and it is working well. I love this little part-time job.
It gives me that little break away from the house; a chance for me to miss them, a chance for them (her) to miss me. It works out really well.
Having been both sides of the coin, a stay at home mum and a working mum; the opinions of others really do show through. How society thinks parents – more so mothers should be with work life, how the government also sees parents too.
Stay at Home Mums in particular get a lot of stick for being home; often the case is like ours where the husband goes out while Mum stays at home – we were okay with that; but I felt embarrassed (not for anyone else, but me personally), because I wasn’t working, leaving the children for someone else to look after. I felt like I would be judged for not going to work. My mother in law was incredibly supportive of it, and felt that all Mums should have the option to stay at home should they wish, with no repercussions financially or from society. Some families simply can’t afford the childcare – like us.
Working Mums don’t escape the judgement either, through forums or hearing people talk about how these Mums spend no time with the children they choose to have. Some Mums don’t have the financial choice to stay at home; the need to live and support using both parents is greater at times than those wanting to stay home and look after their child; this too is us.
Sometimes it feels like a lose-lose battle.
As parents we really are doing the best we can, whether that means a parent staying at home either through love or because finances need or allow them to; or going to work because staying at home would cost families a home and food.
I have really enjoyed being back to work; I found myself lost and at times incredibly lonely being at home. Not working meant there wouldn’t be many outings or Mums coffee mornings, because of having little or no money. As much as I love my children; I love being able to do nicer things with them, take them places and above all.
Keep my sanity!
Because parenting is bloody hard work; judgement or not. There’s nothing easy about it – but it is incredibly rewarding.