I still remember the timbre of her voice as she said those words to me and the relief I felt then is still the relief I feel now.
In many ways I suppose I am still learning to be a mother. As M grows into a toddler/little girl/tiny dictator/threenager I am again at a loss as to best roll with the punches. P is strangely enough a different person, so she's not exactly the same as M, making her journey different too.
I went back to my job when M was 20 weeks old. It was agreed upon that I would work from home, and ten days out from my return to work, it was decided that that would't work for my employers. I bandied about with the option of freelancing for them, but that wouldn't work because they feared it would be viewed as a 'sham contract', despite my having been a sole trader in my friend for the past ten years. So we reluctantly found a daycarer and I reluctantly went back to work, and hated it. So tired. Stressed at leaving my non crawling baby with someone else. Tired.
Then I began to enjoy it. Coffee alone! Shopping alone! BEING ALONE! I struggled with my workload and balancing short days with continuity of projects. I struggled with my colleagues who couldn't understand which days I was working, week to week. (I worked the same days every week.) I loved being a grown up again, but I found it so difficult.
I fell pregnant with P when M was 10 months old and my morning sickness was revolting. I carried a bottle of soda water in my handbag at all times and snuck out of the office at 10am every morning for a pair of potato cakes with chicken salt. I ate a lot. Some early pregnancy complications meant that we didn't feel like sharing this pregnancy with the world until we were certain everything was progressing ok. I mean, my gigantic bump at 6 weeks should have been certainty enough, but I hid that sucker under a scarf. At week 14 I handed in my maternity leave form to surprised employers, who looked even more shocked when I took my scarf off to show them that indeed, I was eating for two!
|Surprise! Not just fat.|
It was a difficult and tiring pregnancy which took it's toll on me early on. In hindsight finishing work in my second trimester would have been a lot easier on my body, but my financial situation didn't allow it. I balanced everything pretty poorly and forgot everything both at work and at home. I pinned a lot of things and spent a lot of time staring blankly at a wall trying to stay awake. At week 35 I finished my last day at work. Two of my colleagues remembered, made me a card and organised an afternoon tea.
|Best. Card. Ever.|
As the time to return to work approached I still wasn't ready. I extended my leave and thought about what I might like to do come September for my return to work.
A few phone calls later from my employers and I was offered a redundancy. I accepted and all lines of communication ceased, and on the last day of the financial year it was finalised. After five years of service, a place that was a huge part of my life suddenly wasn't anymore. It was a strange feeling. Even though it was an outcome that I was happy with, it still really felt like I was fired.
I'm not entirely sure that my employers actually told anyone of my final departure. I still run into my lovely ex-colleagues who ask when I'll be returning from maternity leave. It's safe to say I don't feel the love!
However I digress. Today I realised something important.
M and I were making brownies in the kitchen. She was sitting on the bench covered in chocolate, licking the beater and grinning at me. There was music on in the background, the kitchen was warm, P was snoozing peacefully in the other room and we were happy.
|Photograph (c) Andrew Smyth|
|You can tell I love her, because I share the beaters and spatula.|
I don't have a 'career head' on me at the moment. I'm here, enjoying the moments that make me smile, make me sad, drive me bonkers and make memories. I'm able to enjoy this time fully because this is what I do in the mornings. I get up and spend time with my family. It's because of the ailing print book economy and small business decline that I'm able to do this. I'm so grateful I live in a place that allows us to live and thrive on one wage. M and P are tiny for about five minutes. It's five minutes that I want to grab, bottle and hold on to forever.
Pretty nice, eh?