Not surprisingly, I’m loving being back at work.
There are the obvious reasons. Using my brain. Being around adults. Talking about something other than babies. Wearing proper clothes, and high heels, and jewellery, and makeup. Taking a coffee or bathroom break whenever I want. I love walking anonymously – and quickly – down the corridors, without a pram and baby and all the related paraphernalia that announce our personal lives to the world. No one has to know I’m a mum! I love being able to focus on my work without constantly listening for the sound of a little person. I love being part of a wider world, not confined to houses and malls and indoor playgrounds. I love feeling like I’m contributing, both to that wider world and the household finances (I am earning a whole $3 extra a week than we were receiving from the government’s paid parental leave scheme – that’s one whole coffee). I love lunch breaks, almost more than anything else. I love missing my little girl and rushing home to see her and seeing her face light up when I come into the house. Now that’s a face worth coming home to.
None of this surprised me.
What did surprise me was how much more I enjoy being at home, now that I’m not doing it full-time. I don’t take it for granted. I have more patience and I try to make the most of it. Whereas before I struggled with the anomaly that I didn’t see it as an actual ‘job’ but it was my job, now there’s no such anomaly. My days at home with Emma are now my days off. While still taking responsibility for most of the household chores and domestic tasks, I don’t feel the same need to convince myself I’m being productive at home. My days at work are for being productive. My days at home are for being with Emma. I feel more relaxed, more myself. I always suspected I’d be a better mum when I was working as well, and I don’t know if I am or not (I’m hardly an objective judge), but I feel better, and that’s almost the same thing.
It’s also good, in any relationship I think, to have an opportunity to miss each other. I know Emma is in good hands with her grandma and her dad and I think it’s good for her to spend lots of time with people who aren’t me, so they can teach her different things and have different outings and little rituals. She certainly doesn’t seem to think I’m doing the wrong thing by leaving her for 16 hours a week.
I remain incredibly thankful that I’ve managed to arrange such a great work/life balance at this stage in Emma’s life. Things will change in due course but for now I’m glad to be doing exactly what I’m doing.