I know it’s a pretty big claim to make but, I think, that for me, I have solved the problem.
I hope that as you read this, you can accept it as one mother working out how the world works best for her, without judgement on working or stay-at-home mum’s as I do not intend to judge anyone. Both roles are impossibly difficult to manage and the job of being ‘mama’ is all consuming no matter how you spin it.
The thing that I have realised today is that I love being a working mama and that I am not built to be a stay-at-home mama. I had my suspicions that this may be the case when I was pregnant as I truly love working and am blessed to have found a job that I do thrive on.
I’ve said this before but I was a bit of a workaholic in my pre-sprog world. I don’t know that I can say how much of a good/bad thing that was but I do know that the decision to try to get pregnant came from both hubby and I, wanting to redress the balance of work and actually living life.
I came to this realisation during a spectacular day with Sprog. We had a blast. I was nervous as we were trialling a change in nap routine. He naturally appears to be cutting down to one nap instead of two at nursery so I, without much of a plan for the day, decided to try it out. We were out of the house just after 9 a.m. to play in the ‘pirate park’, perfect time for such an inquisitive toddler as there was no-one else around. He seems to have mastered the art of stepping on and off a roundabout! A difficult skill when you wobble like a drunk old man and the ground is literally moving beneath your feet! He dug up sand, fell in sand, ate sand and chased after a much older child who was refusing to play football with his family. I was a very proud mama! (The much older child ran away from my teeny toddler in order to maintain his stroppy persona)
This afternoon, we played. Upstairs with the sorting blocks, downstairs with the building blocks, at Sprog’s Great Grandparents with the stacking cups! It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing, my heart fills with happiness as soon as he cracks a smile…which is fairly regularly. His giggle is amazing and he makes me all weepy with happiness and pride on a daily basis. He almost managed a word today…as he pointed at the paintings on his bedroom walls, I willed him to form the whole word…’star’ I said over and over again in my head, the closest he got was ‘dar’. Cue more weepy mama!
Now here’s the bit where I ask you not to judge me… Even after an amazing day like to day, I miss work! I miss the intellectual stimulation which I get from teaching teenagers (despite common perceptions, they are intelligent beings). My brain gets used there. I may not be the most knowledgeable teacher (I have to work really hard to remember dates and details), I may not be the most popular (I’m reasonably tough on the kids) and I’m definitely not the most patient (just don’t even think about talking when I’m trying to) but I blooming love it! I love the kids, I love my colleagues and I love the many different and interesting interactions I have on a daily basis.
When I went back to work from maternity leave I was filled with dread about being able to do the job still…turns out that it’s like riding a bike. My memory, however, was completely destroyed. I had to warn the kids, I had to get them to tell me to write things down so that I wouldn’t forget, and I had to tell my colleagues to write everything down for me…otherwise there was no chance of me remembering to do things. Slowly, gradually, almost without me noticing it came back and I didn’t have to write as much down and I felt like me again. I had solved ‘baby brain’ just by using my brain!
Today after 3 1/2 weeks off work, I couldn’t find the half a courgette I was in the middle of cooking, I couldn’t form a full and comprehensive sentence, and I am totally exhausted from talking to a toddler all day. I absolutely adore Sprog and love him with every ounce of my being. I kiss him terribly when I’m at work and I feel guilty that I don’t have much time for him in the evenings. But, I could not be a stay-at-home mama. It would destroy any sense of identity and self that I have as a reasonably intelligent human…I feel like I should apologise but actually I can’t. I have total admiration for all the wonderfully patient and enthusiastic mama’s who are able to stay home with their tiny people. I personally, cannot manage it. I think my brain would dissolve and ‘I’ (the personality bit of me) would evaporate. I might be exaggerating, it might not be that bad and it doesn’t mean I love him any less but I am so happy with my decision to be a working mama and it means that I have solved my ‘baby brain’ issues “hooray!!!!”