Last week, I celebrated my two-year anniversary of returning to work after having my second child. Two whole years of working three days a week, being a mum and wife, feeding my blogging addiction and keeping semi-sane at the same time. I can’t believe I’ve pulled it off!
While I’ve been popping corks to celebrate, there have been a few people intent on raining on my parade.
“When are you coming back full-time?” they ask.
“How old are your kids again?”
“Are you still working part-time?”
I usually offer a fake laugh and tell them I’m a slack tart. Meanwhile, I’m throwing daggers in my mind. What business is it of theirs when I return to full-time work? What does it matter what age my kids are? There’s no rule that mothers need to be working full-time, or even working at all, by the time their kids are a certain age.
I’ve just gotten the hang of juggling part-time work and a family, and now there’s an expectation for me to return full-time? Um, no thank you. I know it’s nobody’s business other than mine when I return to full-time work, but that doesn’t stop the questions getting to me and making me rethink my decision.
With my eldest starting prep next year, I’ve toyed with the idea of increasing my days at work. I find that I’m squeezing five days’ worth of work into three anyway, and I do enjoy what I do, but – and it’s a big but – there are two tiny people tugging on my heart strings telling me that it’s not time to return to full-time work yet.
I love that on Thursday mornings we don’t have to rush anywhere. It is the first time since Sunday where I can finally breathe and enjoy my girls. As I watch them play, I can’t help but marvel over how quickly they are growing and changing. I love watching their individual personalities develop.
For me, this is what life is all about. They won’t be this age forever, nor will they want to spend time with their mum forever, so I’m going to make the most of it while I can. God knows there are days and weeks when life is tough and those little monkeys turn me into a tearful, exhausted shell of a woman, but for the most part it is good. It is amazing.
I am incredibly lucky to be afforded the opportunity to work part-time – lucky that my employer is flexible enough to do this and that we can get by financially. Why would I want to trade this sweet deal in? Why would I not want to spend two precious days a week with my babes in the early years when everything is an amazing new experience?
I wouldn’t. This is the time now when they need me and when I need them.
So, for now, we’ll keep things as is, and everyone can go and mind their own business. There is plenty of time for me to return to full-time work and focus on my career later on. What won’t wait are my kids.
If I could say anything to the mums out there who are struggling to keep their heads above water and are feeling the pressure to return to full-time work, or any kind of work, before they’re ready, it would be to stand your ground and do what’s right for you and your family.
Be kind to yourself and it will make a world of difference.