When a young girl has the perfect life and then it’s turned upside down. All she wants to do is to go home !
when all you want is to fit in and belong
when all you want is to fit in and belong
When a young girl has the perfect life and then it’s turned upside down. All she wants to do is to go home !
When its time to go back to work!
Someone I know is returning to work today after being on maternity leave for 9 months. It is her first child and what a beautiful child she is. The funny thing is when I read her post about returning to work, my tummy lurched and my heart went out to her. The first 9 months, spent intensely with your baby, knowing its every move, its every need and its every likes and dislikes. Even before that, the initial 9 months carrying the child, the bond you have and the protection you feel for it is intense.
My tummy lurched because it brought back memories of the first day I had to return to work after I had my first child. In those days we had 4 months maternity leave. I remember the days leading up to having to ‘leave her’. Finding a suitable minder. Meeting the minder and checking out everything I could about her and the service she provided. I kept looking at my baby, the child I knew everything about, and I couldn’t help but think, that when the day finally came, she would hate me for leaving her. This made me feel sick, it made me feel sad, it made me feel guilty, it made me hate myself, just a little bit too.
I remember trying to be extra cheerful that morning after very little sleep, as per usual, because she was not a good sleeper anyway, and of course the level of trepidation I was feeling prevented a peaceful slumber!
She loved being in the car, and all the way to the childminders I felt like I was leading her into a false sense of security. A car ride usually meant shopping or visiting friends and family. This car ride was leading her into the hands of a perfect stranger (even though I did introduce them prior to this dreaded day). Not only was I driving her there, I was going to be leaving her there, until her daddy collected her, when he finished work.
I suppose we were lucky in one sense in that I was returning to work on a part time basis in the afternoons. He on the other hand was working the early shift 6.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m. This meant my child would have a total of 2 hours per day with the minder. That, for me was 2 hours of torture!
Next to tears, before we arrived, I kept thinking about when she was born and for her daddy, life continued as normal, in that, he still had to go to work, to ‘provide’. However, he had the luxury of knowing she was a home with me, being well cared for and looked after. He was used to this ‘going to work’ scenario. This was a whole new ball game for me. This new Relay shun ship was filled with all sorts of emotions…. none of it was good! Yes I could impart all the relevant information to the child minder, her likes, dislikes, nap time, colic, screaming fits, due to colic, tiny naps, due to colic, infacol in the bag, due to colic. I could not, however, shun my increasing feelings of anxiety and guilt, the nearer I got to her house. Knowing I had to actually, really leave her there.
Walking up the path, I could barely speak, looking down at my precious bundle in the car seat, and her smiling up at me, not realising she was being tricked and what a bad mummy I was for tricking her! It was not nanny’s house, or our friends house, this was the ‘Torture House’. I was startled out of my guilty trance, at the door opening and the woman greeting us with a very warm welcome, assuring me that everything was going to be just fine. She could obviously sense my dread. Again I reiterated all the instructions on how to care for a child. How to care for my child! She is different to all the others, she has colic you see! Do you know how to deal with colic?
Oh my God how am I going to leave and get back in the car and then go to work. Not the job I had left to go on maternity leave. Oh no, that had gone into receivership whilst I was on said leave. This was a new job. Brand spanking new. I was the new receptionist. The FIRST person to greet the clients. The person to answer the phone. No pressure!
I squeezed her tightly in my arms. Kissed her a million times, and like any good villan, handed over the precious goods. I could hear the screams as I was walking down the path, then realised, that was in fact me screaming. My baby was cooing and blowing raspberries, whilst the childminder, sweetly smiling and reassuring me ‘Everything will be just fine. Please don’t worry’. Easy for her to say!
By the time I arrived at my job, not a trace of make up was left on my face from all the crying and wiping away the tears. Double checking in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have any sign of panda eyes, I proceeded to enter the building, trying to pull myself together, but looked anything BUT professional, with a big red blotchy face!
I was greeted by another girl on reception (older than me, married with children). She gave me a knowing look of ‘been there, it, done it, got the T shirt! She took me under her wing and, in between my sobbing, showed me how to use the switchboard. Luckily for me (and the company) she was to be with me all day and for the first week, to train me in. It was the worst I had EVER felt in my life, that first day. I felt like I had just shipped and dumped the most precious thing in the world, for what, the route of all evil – money!
I hated the fact that we needed for me to work too, but the reality is we did need the money to pay the bills. The other reality is, I actually would NOT have been satisfied to be ‘a full time stay at home mother’. In that moment, that is all I wanted, but the more she went to the childminder, happy to go and and happy to ‘play’ and interact with the other babies and toddlers, the happier I settled into work. We both achieved a good work/life balance.
So to all you young mothers, out there, at whatever stage of maternity leave you are on, feeling the trepidation, the guilt and all the other associated feelings, you are not alone, but trust me, and trust yourself in your selection of childcare, all will be fine. They will be fine. YOU will be fine!
Fixing my hair, as I walk across the car park, wiggling my neat pencil skirt down and shimmying off any remnants of ‘knackared mother approaching’, I burst through the main door of the building as if i’m about to sing ‘the hills are alive with the sound of music.
‘Good morning Mandy, I beam, as I pass by the receptionist, noting how fabulous she looks and smells. No trace of baby fumes emitting from her. She being a young, single, stunning glamour puss!
Whisking past the pool of secretaries, nodding politely as I go, i head to my desk. It’s an open plan office where I work. The building is almost circular, like a gold fish bowl in appearance. Legal Eagles on the outer rim by the windows and secretaries in the middle, near the lift and toilets. I take my seat, by the ‘window’ and chat to my rather dashing colleague, who has just passed his uni exam and and doing his Articles with us. Nice bit of eye candy for a 30 something married mother of 3 feeling like she has been ran over by a bus most days.
I didn’t used to ‘sit by the window’. Oh no, I was one of the girls by the lift and the toilets, busily typing away and being a secretary too. I started as a temp and was to be there for 3 days which then turned into 3 weeks and finally 3 years. My ‘boss’ was great. We got on like a house on fire. Well me being an Aries and him being a red head, it was inevitable really – both fiery!
I was so nervous when I first met him. Oh I had plenty of experience being a secretary, I had done it B.C (before children). I was nervous because he looked, how can I put it, a bit weird actually. he was tall and thin, some might say gangly, and when he spoke his arms would flail, all over the place. I had to duck out of the way a few times for fear of being knocked over. He mumbled he was working on a big custody battle and had to have all the paperwork ready for the brief by end of day, so could I stay late!
Well, that was going to go down well with the hubby, first day at work and I am working late. Good job it’s his day off today and not costing me a fortune paying a childminder. So, I am running around like a headless chicken that got lost and is trying to find its way home. I try to get to grips with the fact that three other secretaries are sending their typing to the one SHARED photocopier in the building. I go to retrieve my documents only to find they are not there. No paper, the machine is empty and I have no clue where the stationary cupboard is to refill it. Panicking that he is going to think I am incompetent and slow, I hurry back to the other girls for some guidance as to where I might find the paper, knowing I am irritating the hell out of them as its probably the 100th time I have interrupted them today, what with it being my first day and I don’t have a clue where everything is. I am after all, just a secretary not bloody Mystic Meg!
‘Have you got those documents yet’ he asks, peeping his head into the office, whilst looking at his watch and giving me a look as if to say I probably wont last the contracted 3 days the temp agency had promised me. He kept tut tutting, going this way and that way, checking his watch, scratching his head, muttering God knows what to himself, making me feel more and more anxious. I thought at one stage brown bear was going to come out, you know, like Mr Bean’s bear. That is who my boss reminded me of, dear old Mr Bean!
Could I actually feel any worse? Could I feel any lower. Didn’t he realise, the sacrifice, torment and guilt I was going through at leaving my 9 month old twins to be there. How many times had I stopped myself from crying just thinking about them, especially when my boobs were throbbing and I had to just ignore and smile through the pain. I felt like a highland cow at milking time, full and ready to burst! I was a professional, I was not a defeatist, I wouldn’t five up or give in to it, even though every fibre of my being was aching to be home with my babies, cuddling them, kissing them, being thrown up on by them, feeding them. The sacrifice I made, turning up ALL CLEAN, shit, vomit and food stain free, to be given THAT look. How dare he!
To add insult to injury, when I FINALLY had all the paper work typed up and retrieved from the now, full of paper printer, it was time to get all that shit collated together. The usual place would of course be a nice tidy desk. There was no room on mine, it had a typewriter (electric)(posh) on it and all other manner of stuff a secretary needs on her desk. His desk, no correction, his office had the look of, shall we say, that it had been burgled – papers, files, ring binders EVERYWHERE. The only available space that I could utilise was the floor. So there I was , on my knees, in his burgled office, in a nice neat pencil skirt, boobs throbbing and slightly worried there would be wet patches any minute, due to leakage. Conscious and worried my stocking tops would be exposed every time I leaned over to drop a document in the correct pile of rather lengthy rows of paperwork. How very lady like indeed!
The look on my husband’s face was priceless, when I explained my rather hectic first day. He particularly raised an eyebrow and my being on the floor with my boss, after everyone else had left the building. Still it’s a bit more exciting than looking after buttons in the control room!….
Mamma, Papa and Baby Bears….. a story something like this…..
Papa bear goes to work while mamma bear stays at home to produce and take care of wonderful little children. She will clean the house, cook the dinner and have hubby’s slippers ready for him coming home from work, display children to him in all their glory and cuteness before putting them to bed and cuddling up with him on the sofa in blissful harmony. Right……. No?
Let me take you to a time when I had 3 small children, a husband, a full time job and a college course to boot! A typical morning might look like this…..
Get up at 7.00 a.m. (having just got to bed at 5.00 a.m. to see to the babies (yes I had twins). They were in the height of teething and papa bear is at work on the night shift. Blindly walking across the landing into the bathroom to pee in peace before babies require my attention again. The THREE minutes quality time in the bathroom is bliss, but must also wash and brush teeth quickly and quietly before the mad house comes alive.
Creeping back to the bedroom to find suitable clothes for work at the office. Halfway through buttoning fresh crisp white blouse the screaming begins. Running towards the now louder and louder wailing, I retrieve both babies and offer my shoulder to lean on and cry on whilst shouting across the landing for eldest child to ‘please get up and hurry up or we will be late’!
Painting a smile on my face and gently talking and reassuring babies, one on each hip now as I carefully negotiate the stairs. Plonk each baby into a high chair assuring them breakfast will be ready in 2 ticks, shouting again up the stairs to eldest child to hurry up and come down for breakfast.
Cereal bowls out and mascara to hand I manage to keep one eye on the milk heating in the pot whilst also dressing the other eye with said mascara. Who said I couldn’t multi task. Distracted by a loud scream where one baby had decided to lean over and pull the hair from her sisters head, and sent her into a hysterical scream that would put even the banshee to shame. Running over to comfort one child whilst chastising the other, the wonderful hissing sound of boiling milk was spilling over the beautifully clean cooker – oh shit!
Sleepy 5 year old saunters into the kitchen, hair looking like she is trying out out a new rastafarian dread lock look, because it is so matted, due to her having inherited her fathers extremely fine hair. ‘I’m too tired to go to school today mummy, can I just go back to bed’? Noooooo, now start getting dressed or mummy will be late for work!
Finally manage to complete making cereal, give cooker a quick wipe and a promise for a clean later. Tell number 1 child to eat up her breakfast while I try to quickly shovel the gooey baby porridge into the delightful twins, using the usual coaxing method of the flying aeroplane and choo choo train trick, here it comes, open wide! Though there is a smile on my face and my eyes are wide with glee and excitement for the benefit of my beautiful babies, my mind is screaming ‘JUST EAT THE FUCKING PORRIDGE, OR I’M GOING TO BE LATE’, deep breath and smile!
At Last, I hear a key in the door. Himself is home to rescue me from ‘mummy duties’ so that I can get myself ready and de-dread lock number 1 child , drop her at school before heading to do a FULL DAY’S work at the office.
‘WHAT a NIGHT’ he grunts as he comes into the kitchen, looking for some sympathy, well he has come to the wrong house! He looks fresher than any daisy I have ever seen. I suspect he had a lovely little snooze for himself whilst sitting in the control room. Minding all those BUTTONS. How easy is that, looking after some BUTTONS. Sure they control the furnaces, but they only go off if the furnace gets too hot or too cool. I mean, that probably doesn’t happen very often, if the other guys are doing their jobs right. Right? Sure that’s all there is to it. Alarm goes off and he has to get off nice big comfy chair, and goes to press a button, before heading back to comfy chair, throw feet up on the desk and nod off again, until the next time. While here I am, up all night, pacing the floor with two screaming babies, searching for the calpol, bonjella, teething rings and anything else I can think of , including , singing, rocking and even crying myself, to try comfort them in their HOURS of need and pain.
Just as I am finally ready, having had to change my outfit, due to a child malfunction – puking their gooey baby porridge over me, because papa bear had retired to the living room. Finally, the child minder arrives in the nick of time, and this is of great comfort to me, reassured that my darling babies will in fact have adult supervision before I go to work, as my darling husband is peacefully snoring his head off on the sofa, mouth open catching flies.
Its only 8.40 a.m. and I already feel like I have done half a days work and ran the relay race, before even getting to work. I drop number 1 child at the school gate, give her a kiss and a hurried, ‘have a nice day’ before speeding off towards the bypass. Quick glance in the mirror to check all is well, only to notice one eye has NOT in fact been ‘dressed’ and is MASCARA FREE. Kill me now!
Last weekend I attended a a writing retreat #inspireme18. It had been organised by 3 very dedicated and talented authors, namely Carmel Harrington, Hazel Gaynor and Catherine Ryan Howard. I also met some other wonderful women attending the retreat. Since last week, us like minded women have stayed in touch (set up a social media group) and are there to support each other each step along the way. Isn’t that great. 20 practical strangers, spend a week-end together, with a common interest and have now formed our own little tribe.
The great thing about beginning something new, is you don’t know what shape it is going to take, until you take that first step.
It can be scary to start something new, meet someone new, do something new, but whatever it is, with whomever it is, whenever it is, it is some sort of relationship and it will have an impact. . Some, we will want to Relay – information, a message, an opinion. Some we will want to Shun – ignore, avoid, abstain. Some we will want to ship – export, forward, drop. Every day with every action we make a decision on everything and everyone we are faced with. We decide what we are going to ‘do’ in that relay shun ship relationship scenario. Get up early and go to the gym, or just roll over for another hours sleep. Walk to work or take the car. Make dinner or get a takeaway. You get my drift. Choices every day. Here’s to new beginnings and making good choices….. Now where is the chocolate
Relay – information, a message, an opinion
Shun – ignore, avoid, abstain
Ship – export, direct, drop
The thing is with relationships, they all had to start somewhere. There is always a beginning. Our beginning began with our parents coming together, without them, we just wouldn’t be here. We may not live with our biological parents, but their DNA is part of us, however, does it define us?
Having had my own own children, lived with my own biological parents and looked after many children belonging, biologically to others, the answer is yes and no. Nature -v- Nurture, the debate is ongoing, depending how you look at it no? I am no expert on the matter at all and only speak from my humble opinion on the matter and from my own experience of being a person in a relay shun ship with all those around me.
By the time I came along there were already 2 other before me, my brothers, aged 1 and 2. We were like stepping stones. Three children under 3 and my mother was only 21 and my father was 24, but this is how it was in those days, some 50 odd years ago. Everyone got married young and had their babies young. What stresses and strains would that have had on their relationship, back in the 60’s, two Irish people, living in a strange land, England, married with 3 children? This I will explore as the blog goes on. Enjoy.
This is the post excerpt.
Hi, this is my first time blogging, well actually its my second. I started on a different site, but felt it wasn’t quite the right one, so here I am, beginning again with wordpress. Please be patient with me, it may take a while for me to get to grips with it. That is the thing about starting something new, it is both exciting, but also nerve wracking and can even be a little bit complicated. (I will seek professional advice….. I promise) but in the meantime, if you see stuff that shouldn’t be here (like instructions how to build the blog) remember, I’m a learner and have a bit of sympathy. Just think of a time when you had to start something new, like learning to drive a car. It’s kind of a bit like that for me now, trying to understand this format, but I will get there in the end. In the meantime, enjoy and have a great day!