Becoming mum is tough; breastfeeding is not what they told you it was, the sleepless nights are not only hard but turn you into a zombie where you find yourself putting your car keys in the fridge and instead of putting on your sexy knickers to get the response you want from your man, you have finally resorted to m&s and sloggi, but only for a short time!
Your life is turned upside down, but it’s all worth it for that first smile, that cute giggle and when they say their first word when you’ve been praying it won’t be the swear word your husband kept repeating when in a rage at the traffic-lights last week. But you can’t help but occasionally dream of what you had and have now lost, whether it be exchanging the Bollinger champagne after work on a Friday for the bottle of formula in your hand, or the evening sharing laughs with friends for the evening asleep and dribbling on your sick-stained sofa.
Many of us find ourselves becoming increasingly frustrated with the demands of the house, the children, the husband who’s trying to be supportive but really doesn’t understand how you’re feeling, even with the poor postman that seems to get his head bitten off increasingly every day as he tries to deliver the next breast pump or safety harness only to be met with a disheveled groan. Does he not understand that if your baby doesn’t have a nap then you will have four hours of torture?
The days go by, and the demands increase, as does the overwhelming fear of leaving your child with someone who won’t look after them the way you have, or worse still, will neglect them completely. Work feels like a long time ago and a mix of sleep deprivation, the space to hear yourself think, and a deteriorating memory (although temporary I hope!), makes the thought of work even more terrifying and you convince yourself and perhaps your husband that you simply must stay at home and you will work it out financially somehow, especially given the cost of childcare in the UK!
Many mums are content with being mum, and I have the utmost respect for these people who are doing their absolute best to shape and support the next generation, even though some of the tasks involved are far from sexy! However, some of us, are torn.
Some of us miss the feeling of completing that project and getting praise for it, reaching those targets when you weren’t sure if you would, going out with colleagues for work drinks, feeling Me again.
Then the battle commences; for some people this lasts weeks, for others it lasts years. In a country like the UK where parents are expected to attend plays, assemblies, parents meetings, doctor appointments, the dentist etc. all in ‘office hours’, whilst paying an extortionate amount of money on childcare…how can it possibly be worth it?
I have seen many mothers go back to work to earn nothing for several years, sometimes being worse off even, simply so they can develop their career. These women are extraordinary in my opinion. They are the biggest jugglers of all. They are often learning a new skill or involved in education, trying to earn a living as well as fulfill all the responsibilities expected of them from the children, the school, the husband, the utility company, the broadband provider. How can there possibly be enough time?
Well the simple answer is, there isn’t. It’s all in the plan and how you manage your priorities in the process. Whilst I agree it is hard, and sometimes impossible for women to work in some circumstances given the current lack of support for parents in the UK, there may be a way, and the only way to fight through the boggy marshes is to set a plan, an objective, explain this to those that rely on you, set the boundaries, and then steam on ahead, stopping to breathe wherever possible!
Most mums that do, in my experience, don’t regret it, especially if they find themselves not bothering to wash their hair for days or take care of themselves.