It was all set out. The plan. I would enjoy my maternity leave and then get back to my teaching job whilst Baby Z was at home. Or perhaps we would put him in a nursery depending on how we felt. Here I am now, Baby Z is almost 11 months and I am a Stay at Home Mummy…. And LOVING it.
During pregnancy, we started to look at our options about how the work-home dynamics would play out once there was a baby in the house. Having stayed in England for half my life, I knew maternity leave was long, around 6 months or even more sometimes! Being newly settled in Dubai, I wasn’t so lucky on the holiday front. Here, maternity leave is 45 days and this was a bummer to say the least.
Thankfully, the timing of Baby Z’s delivery and my teaching job meant that just as I returned back from Maternity Leave, a week later the school had their 2 months summer break! Yay for me!!
That one week after maternity leave was hard. My job was fairly relaxed because the kids were already on their summer holidays, so every day simply involved planning lessons and other administrative work. However, I had left a piece of my heart, bundled in a new blanky, at home.
I was breastfeeding, but due to work, I had introduced a bottle so Baby Z was well fed. I would pump my milk during lunch time at work and store it for the following day. I wasn’t enjoying this at all. I would much rather be feeding my baby boy and building our bond. I kept telling my self, as I left for work each morning, that its only this one week and then I would soon be enjoying 2 months with my little bundle of joy. The week passed, slowly but surely, and I put away the bottles and pump into the depths of my cupboard.
The summer holidays whizzed past at an alarming rate. Every time I thought about work, I had that horrible sinking feeling and I would push it away. A few weeks before the new academic year was set to begin, I began the bottle sterilisation ritual once again. I had to get my body back into the rhythm of pumping and also allow Baby Z to get used to the bottle again. There were many tears and much screaming.
The first day back to work, I kissed my sleeping baby Goodbye and his sweet face haunted me all day at work. If I thought that getting back to work after my maternity leave was hard, this was just brutal. He cried and my heart constantly ached. “It will get better” said my family and colleagues.
A week in, and it just kept getting worse. I started to question myself and my decisions. What was the point of all this heart ache? Was my job worth it? Does my baby not deserve to be taken care of by his mother? If I was not looking after him, then why had I even brought him into this world? I was constantly checking up on my baby via phonecalls and I was not enjoying my work. Even after a few moments that I was distracted by colleagues, I would remember my baby boy and feel guilty for forgetting about him for a milisecond. It was a vicious circle and it wasn’t doing me any good. So I bailed out, on work.
I spoke to my school about my situation and apologised for the inconveniece I was causing. I agreed to staying for a fortnight to hand things over and do my best to make the transition smooth. During this time, I brought Baby Z to work with me and each day I fell in love with him a little bit more. Some might say I backed out too quickly, but for me my baby and family’s happiness was the most important thing.
The day I made the decision to leave my job was one of the hardest deisions I had to make. There were plenty of tears, from me this time, because I was letting go of something I loved so much. I thrived at work and it wa part of my identity. My husband was supportive through out and without him I would have been broken.
It is almost a year now since I made that difficult choice and I don’t have an ounce of regret. The joy of watching my son grow and be the main decision maker for him is undescribeable. I would never have forgiven myself if I was not present when he reached his milestones. I am a Stay at Home Mummy and so proud.
Of course, there are bad days when all I want to do is shut myself in a room and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet. There are days when his whining drives me insane. Let’s not even get started about the times he is teething! However, putting it all into perspective, I am grateful to be witnessing even these bad days because after all he is my son. I know that me, my husband and Baby Z are all much happier because of this decision and I really would not have it any other way. That’s what truly matters to me.
Having said all this, I am in no way taking any credit away from working mums. In fact, I am in awe of their strength and applaud them for being able to juggle a work life along with children. Each mum has her own circumstances and makes decisions in the best interest of her child. I am simply one mummy, telling her own story. So whether you are a stay at home mum, or a working mum, you are doing your absolute best and should be so proud.
Give yourself a pat on the back and here’s to all the many more sacrifices we will make for our little ones! *Clink*
Are you a SAHM? Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the subject.