When I was growing up, my Mum was a stay-at-home Mum. It was quite the norm back then, but never something I saw myself doing.
As I started to think about the possibility of kids, I thought it would be great to have a parent at home and thought perhaps I would find a guy who would be a stay-at-home dad.
Partly as that way I could show what a woman was capable of and that it was ok for men to look after babies and do housework.
So much for finding a house husband or the like! I found myself on my own having to go back to work when my daughter was just 6 months old. The first year back from maternity leave was tough. I felt so bad leaving her at nursery, often screaming her head off. She couldn’t even sit up properly yet there was a girl who was all but walking.
“How would the teachers be able to give her their full attention and make sure she came to no harm?” I wondered.
I was assured she was fine, the group was small and there was an assistant. What’s more, they said she settled down after a few minutes and stopped crying for mummy. This didn’t make it a whole lot easier but it made it manageable. What really helped, was seeing her smiling when I came to meet her. She seemed to have had a nice day. If only she could speak!
Come Friday evening, she was exhausted and so was I. I longed for a few hours’ adult company and baby-free. occasionally, thanks to some good friends and a fab babysitter, I got it.
After a year:
When she’d turned one, she was allowed to join the nursery where I worked. The idea was, it would make life easier. Wrong! Instead of waking round to the nursery with a buggy and dropping my daughter off, I had to walk to the garage, get her strapped in a car seat, drive 23 km, park in an underground garage where I invariably had to deal with shoes kicked off or some such in the relative dark, then get her to the nursery without her having a meltdown (she didn’t seem to like her new teachers at first).
On the plus side, that year, I was allowed to do 4 days instead of 5. Did I choose to have my daughter with me and spend quality time together? No. Why not? As it wouldn’t have been quality time as I needed time to get on top of things and appreciated some ‘me-time’. At least it meant that come the weekend, I felt organized and could enjoy her company.
Not one to forgo a challenge, when she was 2, I took on a job with more responsibility and moved with my daughter to Malaysia. I thought I might be lucky enough to get a live-in-nanny. Unfortunately, I ended up with some non-live-in, unreliable ones.
We have since headed back to London. Becoming a stay-at-home mum is not even a remote possibility. I wouldn’t say life is easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
If you ever feel it’s too much, reach out to a friend and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And remember, as they get older, it does get easier. (I may not be saying that when she hits teenage years, but for the moment, anyway…)