On Saturday night I posted a ‘Dear Josh’ letter…
This letter was written for fun, totally humorous. Any of you that know me will know Josh wouldn’t know how to raise his voice at me and I certainly am not afraid to tell him anything for fear of his reaction…
What did piss me off though was one comment I read, left by a man, who is clearly not familiar with my page. He waded on calling me a ‘Real Winger’ (no idea what that is, I was imagining myself as some kind of rugby player?) he then continued along the lines of ‘If you hate being a Stay at home mum so much perhaps you could go out and get a job to stop blaming others but I guess you would rather not have to deal with working 8-10 hours and all the shit that goes along with it’.
For a start, I work. I have worked for the same company for the past 16 years. I have worked hard to promote myself from a Care Support Worker into a role within the Senior Management team. To enable me to do this I was offered a choice when I was pregnant with my second daughter Tallulah that I either took a less demanding role and full maternity leave or I returned to work full-time when she was six weeks old.
I made the decision of taking the role which was more demanding, it meant me working long hours helping set up a new company we had taken over.
I spent my lunch breaks expressing milk in my office for someone else to feed to her the next day, I spent my drives to work in the morning with a lump in my throat because I had left her again. I took calls every day from my excited mother-in-law or my mum informing me of all the things I had missed – when she had rolled onto her tummy, when she had begun crawling & walking. They informed me what foods she liked when she began weaning and they sent me a text every Monday telling me of her weight gain after they’d seen the Health visitor.
I raced home from work each night to make it back for the witching hour, you know that hour before bed where your kids are overtired and grizzly and don’t want to know you. Through her tears and frustration I would bathe her, give her a bottle then put her to bed.
If she woke in the night I would be an emotional wreck the next day because I was so exhausted but if she slept through I would be devastated because I missed her; I missed her tiny fingers curling round mine and the smell of her head as I sniffed and kissed it whilst I was feeding her.
When Edie was born I chose to take a year off work. I had 12 months maternity leave to do everything that I’d missed with Tallulah. I loved it, but I also felt guilty for not going back to work & ‘paying my way’. I felt desperately lonely at times and almost ashamed that I was at home when I felt should be working. And it’s hard, it’s painfully hard to be at home with a tiny baby all day every day. You feel like you have to justify that choice to people, you have to explain why your house isn’t immaculate, you have to make up excuses to friends that call round unannounced why you’re still unwashed and in PJ’s at 3pm in the afternoon – because apparently it’s just not good enough that this tiny bundle of joy hasn’t given you a second to take a piss all day let alone apply a full selection of MAC to your face and run the GHD’s through your glowing mane; and if you’re not signed up to baby massage and every local toddler group you feel like you’ve failed your newborn.
At times I wanted to take a baseball bat to the house that I was sick of cleaning, I felt like I was running a launderette and I was sick of cooking dinners that I hated the taste of.
And now I realise it doesn’t matter what we choose. When I chose to go back to work so soon after Tallulah I did it with a broken heart, it wasn’t the right choice for me but it’s one I thought I should do based on what people would think.
We need to do what’s right for us, for our sanity and for our happiness – because that’s what matters to our babies, if they are being raised by a parent who’s desperately sad, unhappy, depressed or riddled with anxiety it only affects them. We ‘pay our way’ whether we’re at home caring for them all day or whether we’re sat in an office earning a wage…but isn’t it sad that the opinion of society will always struggle to change whilst the world has these few Male Chauvinists who have absolutely no idea how hard it actually is for us to make choices about how to raise our babies the right way.