Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Hanging in there

I've been back at work almost two months now, and it's gone by so fast that I keep telling people my baby is a month younger than he really is.

I'm enjoying being back in paid employment. I find work so absorbing that most of the time I don't even miss Wriggly too much. Perhaps this is because I only took about nine months off, so when I returned to my day job much was as I had left it and I naturally fell back into old routines that existed before my son was even a twinkle in the eye.

As the day grinds towards 5pm I tend to look forward to driving home, because I know that Wriggly will be there at the other end with a ready smile and a loving heart, keen to see his Mummy and have a cuddle. It's even better than having that Fresh 'n' Fruity yoghurt pottle welcoming you into the house each night. Although possibly stickier, as my arrival usually coincides with dinner time for the short one.

I thought I'd miss the milestones and get quite uptight about it, but I'm coping, so far. He's started that dragging pre-crawl movement some label "commando", and he's far more vocally communicative than in the past. I make an effort to spend as much time as possible with him on the weekends, around attempts to sleep. On Saturday I got to see my little boy pull himself up to standing for the first time ever, while his dad had a well deserved lie-in. I realised being home full-time isn't any guarantee that you get to see every development first.

Swapping roles with my partner has been good for us, as well as for Wriggly. We've got a much better understanding of what it's like to wear each other's slippers now and we're much kinder to each other as a result. I'm convinced that those with babies really do need someone to act as "wife" so they can get by; I love being released from cooking and cleaning most of the time and it means that when I'm home I'm there for my son, my partner and myself.

I'm not sure where this will go next. My work is changing, in ways I find exciting but also exhausting. Contemplating a near future that might involve more travel is less attractive than it would have been two years ago; the one night I've spent away for work so far was really hard.

Like so many mothers, and no doubt many fathers, before me I'm just going to hang in there and see what happens. I'm learning that adaptability is possibly the most important skill a parent can possess.


Alison said...

What are your thoughts on Paula Bennett's call to have a "national discussion" about whether women are being forced back to work earlier than they want? In theory it's a good thing, but I do wonder if it's going to further entrench a two-tier system, where single mothers are "encouraged" back to work by work-for-the-dole schemes, while their wealthier and partnered counterparts get their choice to stay home lauded. There's potential for positive change, but I haven't heard any mention of increased paid parental leave in National's plans, and I found it interesting how absent SAH and parttime fathers were from her discussion.

Anna said...

Interesting ... could you post a link Alison?

A difficulty I've had with being a working mum is having my mind in two places at once. Even when my childcare arrangements are reliable and good, I still find myself thinking about the kids, and whether they're fed/warm/healthy/learning/etc. Just part of being a mum, I suppose!

Alison said...

This is her interview on Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan yesterday;
and this is the Herald article;

She only talks about mothers throughout the Herald article, and although the Family First quote refers to SAH parents, I know enough about FF to suspect that the use of the gender neutral term really is only political correctness. I haven't listened to the full interview, just part.

I want discussion about making the choice practical, but I'm pretty concerned by the idea that women should be actively encouraged to stay home.

Julie said...

Thanks for the links, I look forward to reading (and listening) sometime soon. I had a bit of a go at this double standard about staying at home a while back. I too get very frustrated about the omission of fathers, and I bet there's a lot of men out there who do too.