Sunday, October 7, 2012

The illusion of having it all

Guilt. My reasonably recent constant companion. I had read that this might happen but I was blase. Well, at least naive to think it wouldn't happen to me. I thought staying home with the baby would drive me crazy. I have an allergy to domestic tasks. Who wants to be a washer woman (or man) these days? So I assumed going back to work would be fine. Fine. Really, pre-baby my brain worked in a completely different way.

waiting for the nappy sorting fairy
Well, things change don't they. People change. What I hadn't realised was that I would become a completely different person. I became indignant, no longer tolerant of people. Particularly people dithering along when baby and I were hurrying to yet another play group we were late for. I am not proud of this- I have no idea where this uncalled for (and often completely incorrect) moral righteousness has come from. This has however been tempered by swathes of patience. Who knew I would be encouraging the babys' experiments with gravity - water, food, spoons - they all do something different when dropped, or patted, or dismissed over the side of the highchair. It turns out that I have gone soggy in the middle.

Once full of Radio 4 inspired rage about the state of the economy or aid distribution in the Sudan - my current grievances include the state of the food recycling bin, or who used the last wipes in the changing bag. That or the end of maternity pay and our general burying-head-in-sand approach to it. We didn't have to budget particularly pre-pregnancy. Unless dining out on a frequent basis instead of food shopping counts? Turns out being thrifty is a hard habit to get into. Luckily good old fashioned baby sales locally have kept us well stocked for kit and clothes for little one. Well, I was going back to work, had a reasonable salary. Everything would be fine, right?

the workhouse, or how it seems
Shouldn't have made all those assumptions. About how I would feel. About how my boss would feel. Coasting along in my maternity leave daze I planned on part time work, a perfect balance of Home Mummy and Work Mummy. Except my boss didn't agree. Well he didn't quite disagree outright, it was more subtle than that. He emphasised my New Responsibilities. My Changed Priorities. And explained that a job-share just wouldn't work. I wanted to be indignant. I was intent on whipping out the Maternity Action notes on my rights.
balancing work and home?
But it turns out all he needed to show was a business case why it would be detrimental to staff and customers and Bob is well and truly his uncle. And I am now so soggy-middled I didn't have it in me to fight. So they offered me the hours I wanted, but in a job I left 4 years ago, with a salary to match. The whole process has left me apathetic about work in general now. I am eternally grateful that we can still afford for me to be part time.
So why is it every time I leave work I feel guilty for trundling off when everyone else is still slogging away? And every time my baby waves goodbye it tugs on my heart strings and I feel like a bad mother for leaving at all. My final, but hopefully wrong, assumption, is that it will be like this for a long time to come... Guess its all part of this new 'mummy' person that now defines me. All I need now is a badge.

if all else fails, pack the baby away for a bit...