I have been back at work well over a month now. However it feels like a year. Not in a bad, dragging-type way, but thinking about what I have done already and how much I’ve had to ‘re-learn’ it is quite a lot.
I work for the Probation Service, and this means that with the ever changing Law, the rules of the Courts and the new processes surrounding working with offenders, that it was never just going to be a case of me returning to work and picking up where I left off.
And where I left off, is probably about two years ago if I’m honest. Having two Children in quick succession meant that there wasn’t really much time for work in between Maternity Leave/s.
Leaving Gabriel and Willow everyday (for about four days a week) is hard.
It’s much harder leaving two Children than it was leaving one. I am not sure why this is the case. Perhaps it’s because there’s more scope for something to go wrong, or that it somehow doubles the guilt. But it is definitely harder, for me anyway.
I am not the type of person to wallow, or be over-sentimental (sometimes I wish I was!) I am quite emotional, but I also have quite a tough exterior.
Now perhaps this is from the jobs I have chosen in my life but I do just ‘get on with it’ and I am doing just that at the moment but, I wanted to document somewhere how leaving the children at home whilst I go to work each day has made me feel.
Dave often gives me a lift to the train station in a morning. I get out of the car and do the same thing every morning. I open the back doors starting with Willow’s side first.
Every single time it hits me.
I see her pretty little face staring back at me and a look of giddiness lights up her face. She kicks her legs and lets out an excited giggle.
She thinks I am taking her with me.
But I am not. I am kissing her goodbye and am not likely to see her for at least seven hours.
It makes me want to cry!
Next I walk round the other side of the car to Gabriel. I open the door and he beams a huge smile at me. He knows that I am saying goodbye and he understands I am going to work. I kiss him goodbye and he giggles. Sometimes he thinks it is funny to squirm away from me and refuses to say goodbye! I don’t like those days, it is amusing, but it sometimes makes me feel like I haven’t said goodbye to him properly.
Once I am at work, I’m fine. I have regular contact with Dave and quite often speak to Gabriel on the phone.
Dave sends me photographs, videos and regular updates about what they are all up to. I get on with my day, and very much enjoy the independence that the day gives me.
Work is busy, and I enjoy it. That helps. I suppose, if I hated my job, I would feel dreadful all day long!
Dave is also busy at home, taking both children to various lovely playgroups whilst I’m at work, often working with people who have committed some pretty nasty offences. I have dealt with this much better than I expected I would. I had assumed I would feel perhaps quite jealous that he is getting the opportunity to do all the nice activities with the Children during the day, but it isn’t bothering me at all. I am so pleased that he is getting the opportunity to experience those days. I suspect it is because I am so busy at work and often enjoying my day, that it isn’t problematic to me, yet anyway!
What I am finding difficult is switching off from work, and getting back into being in the lovely bubble that is home.
On an evening I need to exercise to shake my day off. I also need a short while to think about my day and arrange my thoughts for the evening. I often don’t get chance for this, because as soon as Dave collects me from the station, or I walk into the house, I am straight into the Michelle ‘Mummy’ role.
Thinking back to when I was on Maternity Leave, after a tough day I would be waiting for Dave to come home. Often, by standing at the front door! I’d hand over the baby and sometimes just need a few minutes to myself upstairs.
It’s so interesting to see things on the other side of the coin. Both Dave and I have learnt a lot from swapping roles. I never realised how hard it was to switch off from professional mode into Parent mode, and I don’t think he ever quite realised just how tough it can be at home with two Children under two, and whilst amazing most of the time, at times it can feel stressed, bored, frustrated, isolated or lonely.
Dave has definitely become closer to the Children, and it is lovely to see. But this has come at a price for me. Willow
has become quite dependent on him.
She still wants me, and lovely the attention I give her, but I have noticed a slight change in her behaviour. I do not necessarily think this is a bad thing, as she has always been very much a Mummy’s girl. Perhaps it is because I have continued to breastfeed her, or perhaps it’s because she had usually spent all her time with me. Either way, it’s a consequence of the change.
But despite all this, the bottom line is I miss my Children. I miss them so much every day. They are everything to me, and if I think what I am missing too much it does upset me.
But, I have to think of my Family. especially Dave, and how great an opportunity is for him, the financial benefit for us as a Family, and also the longer term consideration for my career which is very important to me. I’ve worked very hard to be in the job I am
in and I know how lucky I am for my work to be paying a lot of money for studies.
I know as time passes that life will settle down, routines will develop and these new changes will be normality. But, I suspect it will take time, and actually nothing will be the same again now, which does make me sad.
A new era though. It will be hard work, but there exciting times ahead, I hope!
Keep following our role swap story here on the blog!