About a month ago I took a few days off work with Wriggly while my partner did some full-on work stuff. I had intended to blog, to clean, to bake, to do so many things while at home with my son, when he was asleep. I'd been working pretty hard in the build-up to my leave, to the point where what was originally going to be a whole week off gradually became only four days, then three and a half, and in the end I did a bit of work on the actual leave days too. When I officially returned to work I did nine days straight. Bad me, I know. I'm getting tougher on myself now - leave time and weekends should be sacrosanct.
Anyway what I wasn't expecting was the extreme feeling of disconnection that came with being at home. Work is rarely lonely, even when there's hardly anyone else in the office, as there will be phone calls, texts, emails. Almost everyone I encounter between 8am and 5pm on a normal weekday has more than eight vague word-type noises in their repertoire. When I connect an idea up I can share it with my colleagues and watch them marvel at my ridiculousness/brilliance, not just look blank and then go "ba ba ba" as a bus goes by outside. Showing my colleagues my spreadsheet mojo would not put said Excel masterwork at risk of #VALUE errors from errant button-pushing by a little boy with marmite hands.
That first day, a Monday, that I was off work I enjoyed the time with my son. And I looked forward to putting him down for his nap so I could have some time to myself, and turn off from being Mum for a while. After lunch we had cuddles and a little sing song, then Wriggly curled up with his blue blankie (or maybe it was yellow that week, I forget), while I prepared to shift roles.
But then I didn't shift. I sat on the couch and stared at the bookshelf. For quite a while. I figured I had a couple more days of being at home so I could just take it easy today, read a book on the sofa for a while. Which I started to do, except I fell asleep.
This happened again on the Tuesday. And the Wednesday. I felt quite alone and isolated, despite going out with Wriggly every morning. I couldn't drag myself to the computer even; trying to do it when he's awake is just asking for trouble, and when he was asleep I just ended up curled up on the couch reading, under my own blue blankie, and then napping too.
Perhaps I really needed the rest. Certainly being with Wriggly can be draining, in a physical way that my job rarely is. But I also felt my brain turning to cotton-wool each afternoon. For a while I blamed Robin Hobb, as it was her fantastic books I was devouring each day on the couch, before I drifted off. I still can't quite explain it.
Those few days served to underline to me that I am one of Those Women - the ones that have to work for their sanity. Maybe there'll come a time when I'm happier being at home, or even working part time. I kind of hope there is as I'd dearly like to be an active kindergarten parent when the time comes.
For right now though I need my job. And not just for the money either. I've stopped apologising for working, because it's not something that any parent should need to apologise for (unless they're a contract killer or work for Shell or something). There's a permanent promotion on offer this week at my work. I know I could do it, and the main reason I've been reticient about making a decision has really been, deep down, because I'm a mum now I felt maybe I shouldn't be going for it. I was worried about the judging, not the job. It seems like mums don't go for promotions, at least not until their charges are at school.
Well the judgers can do their stuff their way. I'm not listening anymore, and I'm going to try awfully hard not to even notice their quivering eyebrows and their slightly pursed lips. There's just three people I need to keep happy in this matter; my son, my partner and myself. I can't keep the others pleased if I'm not happy too, so it's yo ho ho off to work I go.