Ten days ago I started my maternity leave. Or as my loving husband says, I went on holiday. I left the office on a Wednesday with a pile of cards and a hamper of baby goodies but for various reasons I still had some management training on the Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday I came home buoyant, excited to be starting this ‘new chapter’ (at least five people called it that so it must be true). On Friday, I came home and sobbed.
Actually, I’m lying. I howled.
How would I fill my days? What did my life look like without traipsing in to the office every weekday? What would happen to my carefully nurtured teams and plans in my absence? Would everything descend into chaos? Or worse… what if they didn’t even notice I’d gone?
That is pretty much how said loving husband found me. Curled up in a ball on the bed sobbing to myself about how much I didn’t want to leave work after weeks of me muttering darkly to myself every morning, lunchtime and evening about how much I hated the place and wouldn’t somebody please just let the pregnant woman leave already. (For the record – I like my job. There just isn’t much to get excited about when you spend all day trying to balance getting through your workload, 50 billion bathroom trips and attempting to find a position where baby ass isn’t shoved up under your ribcage but you can still reach the keyboard).
A good hour in to my sob fest – I throw a great pity party for one – we got to the crux of the matter. The real fear… what if I didn’t like my new life as a parent? Having spent years fighting to be taken seriously at work, I felt like I was taking a step backwards because I wanted to have a family. I resented the fact that my husband could achieve the same things yet still maintain his career. Yet mine had quickly turned in to months out followed by years of part time work. What if parenthood doesn’t fulfil me in the same way? How do you get to that balanced point where you feel like you’re giving your all to both your career and your children? Plus, I am good at my job. What if I’m not good at this?
I have the answers to exactly NONE of these questions. I feel like I should add a ‘yet’ to the end of that; does anyone ever truly stop asking themselves these things? In a world where there is so much pressure put on people to be whatever they want to be, it can be overwhelming to suddenly realise that you can’t physically be everything, have everything, achieve everything. And that is totally okay.
At least that’s what I keep muttering to myself now…
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