thoughts and things

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!

13 thoughts on “A Woman’s Work”

  • Having a baby changes you in so many ways. I absolutely wanted to return to work once my paid maternity leave had finished (I got 6 months full and 3 on SMP) but the reality was so different. Despite only needing to pay for 3 days childcare as D worked in hospitality (so was off weekends) my salary still only just covered childcare fees.

    Returning also effected me mentally far more than I was prepared for and I plunged into a sort of delayed PND I guess.

    I feel differently now, perhaps because I realise that I just wasn’t all that suited to corporate finance after all, perhaps because Harry is now that bit older, maybe because I have been out of work for so long now due to redundancy and illness, I don’t know. I know I want to work again, I want to look at building a career but I have no idea where to start or even what I really want to do!

    Clearly, you are in a much better place than me! ­čÖé xx

    • Thanks for the comment! I am worried about how I will feel when I go back to work. I am going into work this week and I really don’t want to! I think you’re right: you’re different after having a baby, priorities change, you think about things a different way. I will have to see how I get on! x

  • I think you just need to do what feels right, but I’m not sure you could truly know unless you went back and tried.
    I was a ament I would be returning to work when I was pregnant. But I just knew I couldn’t once she was here, my not wanting to along with the extortionate childcare costs meant I packed it all up. 10 years of training and hard work, but it was the right decision for us.
    Good luck, I wish I could offer you more advice. X

  • Great post and I hear you on the expectations. We have to get on with it alone AND help everyone else as well. I earn the biggest slices of bread in our household too but I do want to go back to work in November (after a year off) I am just not sure what the reality of it will be like!

  • I didn’t cope. I was expecting to be the type of mum who would be gagging to get back to adult life and conversations, but I went back to teaching part-time, in a new role that I had only done for 5 weeks before going off on maternity leave for the rest of the academic year, and I was miserable. I felt so crushingly guilty for leaving other people with my son, I felt like I should be the one looking after him – and I just missed him. Thankfully, the freelance work I had been doing as a side line suddenly took off enough for me to quit teaching and stay at home.

    Now, another two years on with two little children, I am applying for a teaching job again. I have to, because otherwise ends won’t meet. The freelance work has died down again a bit and I need to have some steady, reliable income.

    It’s all a bit miserable. Perhaps in the past people just made do with less, or people just took any job as long as it paid the bills rather than searching for a job that made them happy.

  • I’ve gone back once and I’m currently on maternity leave staring down a date in September that says I’m going back to work again. In our household it’s not so much the slice of bread as the job security – not just my job but my whole profession is a lot more secure than my husband’s so I’ve got to keep my foot in the door.

    It is horribly hard leaving the babies but you do get used to it, and I always reassure myself with the promise that they are getting opportunities at nursery that space and time constraints prevent happening at home. All that said, if we win the lottery my office won’t see me for dust – I just need to start buying tickets.

  • I found it REALLY hard going back to work when I knew if I really had the choice that I could stay home with Grace. I really empathise with you lovely, it isn’t going to be easy but we are here to support you. Thanks for linking to PoCoLo x

  • I certainly feel for you, and other mummies out there, that have no choice. We struggle but I get to stay home and bring my own children up. The sad fact is that even if I did go to work, the money I earned would go straight to childcare fees, so we would be no better off. Hence, why I’ve decided to stay home whilst my partner works. It’s a shame that in this day and age that so many women miss out because they haven’t any other option.

    • Aw I am so glad that you are able to spend time with your children. Yes it is ironic that a lot of money will go on childcare! I don’t know how we can change things really. I am coming up with a compromise though, am hopefully able to drop a few hours when I return, so I can spend a bit more time my my daughter x

    • Thank you, I hope so too! I had a chat with my manager and he is willing to let me drop some hours, and I can just about afford it, so I think I am coming up with a comproimse. x

  • I chose to go back to work (well study and then work) after having a child but I hate the fact that in 2013, women are told we can choose whatever we want, we still don’t really have a choice. It is sad that you need two full time wages to give your child the kind of life most people our age had growing up, with only one working parent.

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