This past year has been amazing. I have had the chance to stay home with my beautiful baby boy and enjoy every moment of his first year. And I feel lucky to have had the chance to be a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM).
But it has been hard. We are isolated where we live, with each set of grandparents living nearly an hour's drive in opposite directions. And I don't drive, so regardless of the cost of public transport, it would take me much longer to make the journey to visit family than if I could hop in the car and drive along the A1.
And then there is the fact that TJ works shifts (with no steady shift pattern at all) and has been known to work 10, 11 even 12 days in a row, working until 9pm one night and starting again at 7am the next morning. This is not conducive to a good family routine, nor our own sanity as exhaustion settles in rather quickly.
And that's not to mention how appallingly low his salary is for the work he does. We are poor, there is no doubt about it, and the worry and stress over money is something we would love to leave behind us.
Which is why we recently decided that I should look for work. I have a degree and a decent amount of experience and despite coming out of full-time work in 2010 I have worked as a columnist and freelance writer as well as undertaking a temporary part-time position at a local school since then. I have a gap in my CV but it can be explained by our relocation and having a child. I am returning to work maybe a little later than most Working Mums but it isn't an excessively long time to have been out of work...
Except, it's ridiculously hard to find work these days. And so despite only having made this decision recently I am finding myself anxious and on edge about how long it will take to find work, how the change will affect our lives as a family and what to do with myself during this "limbo phase" of "not knowing".
I keep having to remind myself that this time of waiting is all for a good cause, that there are so many benefits to my returning to work. I enjoy working, I actually feel (dare I admit it) stifled as a SAHM. I enjoy meeting people, I relish a good challenge, and though I love spending time with Little Man I find myself falling into a state of wishing for more intellectual stimulation. As hard as it is to admit that being at home with my child probably isn't the best thing for my sanity, it's the truth.
TJ tells me all the time that he has always known I needed an outlet for my creativity and ambition. And whilst I have enjoyed spending the first precious months at home with Little Man, I never get any time to just do something that allows those two aspects of myself to be free. And as my CBT sessions taught me, it is important to recognise and be true to who you are and not who you think you should be.
Mummy Guilt crops in a lot when I think of putting these things before staying home with my child, but then Mummy Guilt also crops in when I find myself dragging my heels at our daily routine because I just want a different challenge.
Though I worry that returning to work will make everything harder, I do believe that the opposite will be true. I will get that mental stimulation I so desperately crave by being at work, and then I can come home and truly relish those moments of sheer joyful play and silliness with my boy because they will be so much more precious.
We will finally have more of a routine in our lives, because our hope is that it will enable TJ to drop his hours and give him more time at home with Little Man (his workplace being willing, obviously). And I will get an hour every single day during my lunchbreak to just read, write, blog, crochet or whatever without any distractions. My creativity will also be given time to flourish, something I hardly ever give time to because there always seems something "more important" to do when at home all day.
So that's where we're at. A scary crossroads that is going to change the whole dynamic of our family, but in a way that looks to be truly positive. However much I'd like to think I'd make a good SAHM, I really don't. And letting go of the guilt of that is a hard thing.
So tell me, are you a Working Mum? How do you find it all balances out? I'd love to hear your thoughts!