So I did it. I am back in the rat race. I am seven weeks in to having left my full time job as a mummy and returned to my full time job working in telly. To say I miss my boy is an understatement.
Going back to work is something I’m pretty sure most women dread even if they want to go back. I did. When I left work I said I would take nine months maternity leave. A year later I have only just returned. Actually he was eleven months when I went back. I wish he had been a year. Psychologically I would have felt less guilty. I feel guilty about everything.
Before I had my child I thought I’d find it very easy to return to work. I have never desired to be a stay-at-home mum; in fact that’s something that filled me with dread. I have worked since I was 14. Not working is simply not on my radar. I thought that come nine months I’d be itching to get back, ready to return to my career and my ‘other life’. I also thought that leaving my baby in the care of another would be fine. Millions of women have to do it. It’s amazing how differently you feel once you actually have a child.
As D-Day arrived I was understandably nervous. A year out of the office is a long time. A year out of the office to have a baby feels even longer. For me, becoming a mother had been the most monumental, life altering experience I will ever have. My world and everything in it had changed. My whole life was different. I’d spent the last 365 days in a baby bubble, totally and utterly consumed by my baby boy. How the hell was I supposed to go back into a job and remember how to do it? How the hell was I going to leave him? How the hell was I supposed to make space in my head to concentrate on anything other than my boy?
The first week back was better than I thought it would be. My company have been very flexible and agreed to let me come back for four days a week, taking Wednesday’s off. For the most part the first couple of days consisted of me feeling like the new girl at school. What was slightly weirder was feeling like the new girl at a school that I had been to before. It was sort of familiar in that I knew everyone and I knew where to make tea and coffee and to go to the loo, but it also felt completely and utterly new. As hard as I tried to feel normal and as much effort I put in to feeling confident, I was anything but. I was hoping this would get easier.
Mostly I spent the time thinking that I had two days in the office and then I would be back with him. As expected they went rather quickly. In fact the whole week flew by. I felt very proud of myself and my son for getting through the week unscathed. I struggled to admit it as the time as I felt guilty, but I enjoyed being back in a work environment and it was so nice to have a bit of time by myself. It’s a cliché, but going to the loo on my own and drinking a cup of tea whilst it was still hot was utter bliss. My boy also seemed to be coping fine without me and had a great time with the nanny. We had done it!
Week two started and it wasn’t so good. Looking back, the first week had been a bit of a novelty and by the second week I missed my boy so much it hurt my heart to leave him. The reality had hit home that this was how it was now going to be. For four days a week I had to leave him all day. There were a lot of tears. From me. He was fine.
As the weeks have gone on it has gotten easier, but I don’t think I’ll ever be completely at ease with it. Some days I feel fine, other days I want to run as fast I can home from the office, scoop my little boy in my arms and never let him go. When I feel like this I remind myself of why I have returned to work. There are many reasons.
When I have down days, I constantly remind myself that I want to work. I want my son to grow up in a house where mummy and daddy have equal roles. I want him to have the best of everything in life and in order for that to happen I have to work. Do I often think that things like this don’t matter and surely me being there every day is better? Sometimes, but I don’t really believe it.
I’ve asked myself if money was no object would I still want to work. Unfortunately it is an object. A big one. Hubby and I are yet to buy a house. I need to work so we can save a deposit. We are trying to build a financially secure future for our son. But would I still work if we were minted? Yes I would, but maybe not quite yet.
Someone I know who doesn’t work once commented that they would never have children so that someone else can raise them. Not only is that nonsense, but if I thought my nanny was in any way raising my son then I would be doing myself a disservice. My husband and I raise our son, not the nanny. She is a trained childcare professional with over 14 years experience who gets paid to play with my son all day. She takes him to clubs and soft play and music classes. She never has to do chores or sort out bills or anything else whilst she is with him.
Since being back at work I’ve fulfilled every cliché you read about working mothers with small babies. I have come into work covered in sick and dried snot. I have been so tired I’ve sent emails to the wrong people. I’ve left the house in two different shoes. At some point I’ve called every person in the office my son’s name (and shown them countless photographs). Recently I was on a conference call with two magicians who are fronting one of our new TV shows. I had dialled in early so assumed I was the first person on the call. That was until I heard giggling and was asked not to stop as they were rather enjoying me singing the Iggle Piggle song from In the Night Garden.
I’m still trying to find the balance of doing both roles effectively. My number one priority will always be my son, but I also want to be good at my job. I don’t like doing anything if I don’t do it well. I think it may take some time. On a particularly hard day this week I mentioned to hubby that perhaps we can just have another baby so I can stop work again. His answer? “No way. Not yet”. Looks like I’ll have to stop watching Iggle Piggle then.