‘Tonight, I only got one hour with Teddy before he fell asleep for the night. One hour. I rushed home to see him, then after a chaotic hour with dinner and bath time, he fell asleep in my arms whilst I gave him his milky.
Usually, this is the time I relish because I get some precious Me Time once Teddy is in bed. But since going back to work last week I sit a little longer, hugging him close to me, making the most of those quiet moments. Usually with a regretful tear in my eye. The Mum Guilt is severe.
Teddy has slowly been getting used to going to nursery. The first few days were hard for us all. He would scream when we dropped him off, refuse food and drinks throughout the day, and scream when we picked him up. Then, because of us moving house, we had to move him to a new nursery and the cycle started again. This is probably upsetting me the most, having to leave him with strangers whilst I go to work.
It’s a funny old set-up, isn’t it. We go back to work to earn just enough money to pay for someone else to look after the children we chose to bring into this world.
In my (limited) experience, the work place isn’t set up to support Mothers. We are sold this beautiful lie where we CAN have it all. We can have the progressive career. We can have a wholesome family life. We can find that precariously balanced lifestyle that we strive for. In my current exhausted pigeon-like state, I just can’t see how. And, we’re expected to carry out like nothing has happened. Like you’ve returned to work as the pre-parent you.
And now, I’m questioning whether I even want It All. Is it overrated?
This past year has changed me. I now enjoy nothing more than seeing my son smile. Even if that means watching endless episodes of In The Night Garden or singing Frere Jacques for the 27th time that day. I sit up at night searching for activities that would keep Ted happy. He was my motivation for starting Not Another Mum Group and driving it to the growing success it is now. I need him to be happy, for my own happiness to exist.
So, as I sit on the train commuting home, I compare doing fun things with Ted to sitting at a desk in the city, I know which situation I’d chose in a heartbeat. Becoming a Mother has half rid me of my career ambition and replaced it with a new purpose. Having It All now means having as much time with my family. Working as a means to be able to get Ted everything he could ever want and to give him as many enriching, entertaining experiences as possible.
My ambitious hasn’t disappeared completely though. I still want those moments of achievement for myself. But things are definitely framed in a different perspective now.
Have you managed to have it all?’
Rebecca Stew is Founder of Not Another Mum Group