Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest! #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate. I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family. If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! For now, I will leave you in the hands of Romina from Mini Mummi Blogger!
I’m a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. I’m sure most of you would agree that, by the third trimester, your pregnancy feels never-ending! Aside from constant nausea until about 16 weeks, my pregnancy was pretty uneventful until late into my second trimester. I ended up with symphysis pubis dysfunction (https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/symptoms-and-solutions/symphysis-pubis-dysfunction), and more than once had to work from home for several days in a row because it hurt too much to walk (and couldn’t really move, in any case!). Pregnancy is a singular experience – yes, you are performing a miracle, but you’ve got to endure relentless symptoms and pressures along the way! Needless to say, by the middle of my third trimester, I was well and truly ready to go on leave. At the end of the Christmas closure at the office, I went straight into my maternity leave one month early.
After several years without a proper break, I was looking forward to some downtime. Retrospectively, I think I wasted most of that time sitting on the couch binge watching Downton Abbey and a bunch of other shows I can’t even list now. I wish I had done something more productive and rewarding with that time.
My labour was pretty intense: I was induced twenty-four hours after my water broke because I wasn’t getting enough contractions. Obviously I don’t have any prior experience to compare it to, but the contractions got really full on really quickly and there was barely any respite in between. After nine hours, an episiotomy, and a vacuum, my gorgeous little man came into the world. Despite the elation and boundless love I felt, I was still pretty knocked out by the birth and it took several weeks for me to start feeling somewhat normal. Coupled with the difficulty of breastfeeding in the first couple of months (that’s another story that I won’t go into here), my son was about 3 1/2 months old before I could really start doing “things”.
We’ve gone for a lovely walks in the sun, read books, played with a variety of toys (that I have to keep rotating because somebody is very inquisitive and gets bored playing with the same thing for too many days in a row), and even started baby swimming lessons! I adore my little man and I love spending time with him. But sometimes, I miss doing things that I did before, like reading a novel, doing a musical at the local community theatre, or even working on my uni course. Now that he’s almost 7 months old, I’ve started finding pockets of time here and there to indulge in some of my own hobbies. I’ve really enjoyed putting together my own mummy blog, and realised that I’m at my best when I have something productive and rewarding to focus on. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find taking care of my baby rewarding or productive, of course it is. I’m talking about something that is just for me, for my own satisfaction, and my own sanity.
While I wish I didn’t have to leave my son to go back to work, the cost of living and other things mean I do you have to. I’m lucky enough to have a job that provides flexibility and understanding, which helps; and I also don’t have to go back full time, which I’m grateful for. So, as I pass the halfway mark of my maternity leave and am staring “return to work” in the face, I’m forced to think about what that means for me. If being a stay-at-home mum was an option, would I actually want that?
If I’m honest, the answer is no. I’m the type of person who needs to be challenged in an intellectual environment, as well. I love writing and thinking and learning – in fact, I’ve barely stopped studying since I first went to university a good 13 years ago. I don’t just have to go back to work, I want to. There’s nothing wrong with staying at home to raise your family, if that’s what you want and if you can afford that option. My own mother was a stay-at-home mum until we were teenagers; that worked for us because we didn’t have much family around to help look after us kids, and my dad was able to support us on a single salary. But that just isn’t for me. And I’m lucky that my son has two grandmothers itching to mind him!
Equally, there’s nothing wrong with going back to work part time or full time, even if you can afford not to. Some mothers need to feel that they are contributing financially to their family, or like they are “someone” besides a mother. Every mum needs to do what suits her best, and fits in with her own circumstances. After all, if a mother is operating at her best, feeling confident and fulfilled in all aspects, she will be better able to care for her children.
I dread the prospect of walking out the door on my way to work and seeing my bub’s sad little face because his mummy is leaving him behind. But, such is life. My ideal scenario would be to have my own business, and be able to work from anywhere. The best of both worlds! It isn’t an option at the moment, but it’s in the cards. I guess I’ll just wait and see!
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!
You can see more from Romina here: