A Woman’s Work
I will have to go back to work in 4 months time. I thought about this today, and I must admit I felt a bit sad inside. I don’t have a choice in the matter: I earn the most money, and I will need to go back full-time. I will be at work, and my baby girl will be with an array of relatives and people paid to look after her. I didn’t like the sound of that at all, to be honest.
But I have no choice. Not really.
I love my job, and my vocation, but now I have had a baby, now I have spent time with her, and know her, I want to finish the job. I want to help her to grow up. I want to be able to see her do things such as walk, and first words, and other things. Will I miss these? The thought someone else will get to witness any milestones makes me feel sad. I should be the one there with her. Yet at the same time, I am itching to be back at work, to get back to some kind of ‘normal’, to be myself for again. I always knew I would go back to work, and I was OK with that, and that it was the right thing to do. I have a career, and I don’t want to throw it all away. Yet now I have a feeling (is it guilt?) about leaving her, and not being there for her. I am torn.
How did society become somewhere, where I, and many other women, don’t really get choice anymore? Even if I wanted to stay at home, I know I can’t afford it. I have always tried to fight these assumptions and defined roles. When people asked if I was going back to work full-time, they looked surprised. I have always been a strong believer in women’s choice, rights, equality. Women being equal. As a woman, I wanted to be equal with men, I wanted to be the same. It is ironic that within my profession, which is predominantly female, that males hold the majority of senior positions. How can that be? I want to push my way to the top, I want to prove everyone wrong. But now I have a baby, and now my mind is starting to have a little meltdown.
I think it is also quite interesting that I am the breadwinner in my household, and talking to other friends, we are in the same position. We have managed to do so well in our jobs, have we made a situation in which we can’t get out of? As in, we can’t choose to stop working, because we are earning the money for the family. Have we outdone ourselves? Can anyone ever be too successful at something? I think the fact that I can’t decide to anything else, makes me feel a little penned in, a little trapped, and I have never been one to cope well with that feeling.
Is it that I am just yearning for the other option, the other way of life? Am I yearning back to the days where women were at home, and men were at work? No. I don’t think so. I worked pretty damn hard to get where I am. People say you can not have it all – and I think I am beginning to see that. My partner does not have this conflict. He would like to spend more time with Bubs, of course, but for him, his path is clearly defined: He goes to work, he comes home. I do the donkey work in between. I can’t be at home, and nurture and look after our baby, at the same time as pursuing my career as a nurse. I can’t be in two places at the same time.
Even being on Maternity leave, I can see the inequalities that still remain. The expectation that I will look after a baby, and look after a house, are unsaid. I have never been in a situation before where I have had so many assumptions, and expectations placed upon me. Usually I will say No, I will argue the point, I will refuse to do this. However you can’t really with a baby, can you? It still angers me though. The fact that I never get time to myself unless it is planned into tiny details. The fact that people do not ask me if I want help, but then expect me to help them with the baby, even though I have to do it all by myself, every day. The fact I have to rely on someone else for money. The expectation that I will do things this way, or that way. How can that be equal? Yet I say all this, and I have loved being at home. Talk about confused.
I am not saying everyone may experience this, but talking to a few friends, I know they have experienced some of this as well.
So now I am stuck. I am torn. I am confused. I never thought I would ever feel like this, that I would want to not go to work, that I would want to stay at home. Being a Stay At Home Mum, if you ask me, takes more guts, determination and hard work, than many jobs do. The thought of going back to work makes me feel sad. Yet I know, when I am there, I will give it 100%. I can do my job very well, and I won’t let anything effect that. I also have to complete my dissertation in September in order to complete my degree. I have to do this, it is something I have been working on for 4 years. It is my way up the ladder. It is my Plan. I just didn’t think about a little baby girl within my plan. I didn’t contemplate another way of life, which I have experienced within my maternity leave. I have loved being at home, despite my moans and gripes. I have now seen both sides, and I could easily do one or the other. Except I can’t choose to.
I just guess it is time to start facing up to the reality that I will be leaving my baby to go to work. But in the end I am doing it for her, and our, future. And I can’t forget that.
How do people cope with working? How do people cope with the expectations that are placed on you, now you are a Mum? Please let me know in the comments below!