September will officially mark the end of those endless days at home with baby. Looking back I can remember the endless sleepless nights, feeling fairly isolated home alone all day and craving a break from it all. I have no guilt in admitting that at times I have found that motherhood is hard; it is particularly hard when a terrible birth takes months and months to recover from, your baby is horrendously colic and being a new mummy without support in a remote area. There have been days when I have struggled and times when I have missed the 'life before baby'. People often ask if things have changed since becoming a mum and when I think, things have changed beyond recognition.
Aled and I can no longer just jump on a train and go off for the day. We no longer have lots of meals out, or go for a few drinks. Mornings begin a lot earlier, we can't sit in all day watching box sets and time to ourselves is usually snatched after 9pm when Baby is asleep, everything is finished and neither of us has fallen asleep on the sofa!
I returned for a full week of work before the end of the summer term and found it to be the most difficult thing emotionally I have had to do since becoming a Mummy. Leaving the baby with a childminder and functioning without her was so foreign to me. I missed caring for her, I hated the thought of her crying and not being able to comfort her, someone else feeding her, changing her and putting her down to sleep. Yet, returning to work I felt like a small piece of myself pre-mummy was awakened. The creativity my job demands, the stimulation of adult conversation and the enjoyment I get from doing my job and knowing that it is an important job was refreshing.
It raises an interesting conflict within myself and a debate that many Mum's today struggle with; we really do want it all, we want to be with our babies and we want our careers. I spent a great deal of time and money acquiring a Degree and a Masters; my job is truly a passion, I enjoy it. Yet, if given the chance would I just stay home and be a Mummy?
This year I have reduced my hours to working three days a week and have spent more recent weeks fretting about our finances. Things are certainly going to be on a tight budget; Christmas will not be the extravagant affair it has been, trips and visits will be a rarity. Money will be tight and our choices will be fewer. I make this decision knowing all of this, fully aware that I will miss the buzz of work, that time with my baby will be precious; spent at home just the two of us, that I will still cry when I leave her and be consumed with guilt when she cries when I go to collect her. I will miss out on a lot, I will gain time with my baby and yet will still feel unsatisfied.
Feminism brought many developments, one being that women didn't have to envisage a life in an apron, keeping house and raising children. Careers were no longer out of reach and yet now a life at home is no longer an option for many women today. Instead there is an internal struggle between what we want and what we can afford. When I think about it our choices are not all that much more advanced and for many women cutting hours is not even an option. Perhaps we can't have it all?