I went back to work when our daughter was nearly 10 months old, in January 2020.
The thought of going back to work was difficult. I was loving my time just me and my baby girl. We were in a good routine with sleep and meals and had a packed social life.
I felt like I was having to go back to work at the worst possible point. I felt like I was beginning to suss out Motherhood.
It had taken long enough!
We were sleeping, I was less hormonal, we were enjoying our time together. We had formed an amazing bond and now I had to leave her. I felt like I was missing a limb without her.
Had someone asked me to go to work when she was just a few weeks old I may have welcomed the break… although the guilt would have prevented me.
I knew I was going to struggle but I didn’t realise that my colleagues would make me feel worse.
Being a working Mum is hard regardless of the situation you return to but there were added reasons in my case.
Firstly, I didn’t have a proper role to return to. You are supposed to return to work to a role which is equal to the one you left… that certainly didn’t happen in my case and in many other’s I know. I was left largely feeling like I was a spare part. It is even harder to come back to work when you are no longer needed but they can’t get rid of you… I felt undervalued and worthless.
That was a difficult feeling to comprehend when you have only felt needed as a Mum. Needed to a point that your head may explode but with that comes the unbelievably amazing feeling of being the centre of your baby’s world.
I do realise that my situation was unique and hopefully most Mums would not feel that way.
What I do think Mums can relate to is how colleagues without children don’t help you. They don’t understand, but how can they? I didn’t understand what it was like to be a Mum before I was one and I really didn’t understand what it was like to work and be a Mum!
5 things your colleagues without kids do not understand:
- You have not just had a years holiday.
- You have still used your brain during the last year.
- You have done a whole day’s work before you get to work and will have a whole day once you get home…
- You DO want to work but you are wracked with guilt because of it.
- You are doing the same job as them on MUCH less sleep.
I hadn’t considered these before I had a baby, or even when I had a baby but before I went back to work.
Why would you?
Can you expect people to understand?
Should they? And would it make a difference if they did?
Why should they understand my level of exhaustion when I’ve been up all night but get into the office at the same time as them?
Why should they understand the level of planning it takes just to get here?
Why should they understanding that I run out of the office at 5pm because I miss my baby so much, but I won’t sit down until gone 8pm…?
How can they understand how hard I work to strike a working Mum balance?
All of these are down to my choices and I really am not complaining. I am lucky to have a flexible job and be a Mum.
I have chosen to have a baby and have chosen to go back to work.
But then, it is always nice to be understood…
When my 18-year-old male colleague, who lives with his parents, tells me that he is tired…I choose to smile. He will understand one day. He doesn’t need to understand now.
I try not to make a big deal out of these issues… for the most part I work with younger men who wouldn’t understand or older men whose wives stay at home so still don’t understand.
I just wish they did sometimes…
The other Mums I work with get it and say that I used not to. It is a cycle.
I hope that your colleagues do understand and if, like me, you are returning to a largely male environment in the city, I hope this gives you an insight into what you might face.
Even if they don’t understand, I do, and we can always meet for a wine … that will make it all better.
A working Mum blog by the working Mummy.