Having recently been contacted by a journalist to speak on the radio on the topic of balancing life as a working Mum I decided it was time to delve into my thoughts on working and parenting. I also thought it was important to talk about this in an honest and open manner, as I have noticed an emerging trend of some parents feeling like they have to sugar coat their experiences, afraid to look like they are struggling, or worried what people might think; no judgement here, I completely understand that mindset. I struggle with it too. The absolute truth is that balancing Life as a Working Mum is one of the toughest tasks I’ve ever taken on. It proves to be somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster testing my energy levels and forcing me to deal with the guilt of spending time away from my precious son.
So here it is, I’m just going to say it, being a working Mum can be arduous and tiring, but for me, like many other Mums, it’s an essential part of my life. It’s something I have to do, even though at times I don’t want to. Despite the daily struggles nothing beats seeing the joy on my sons face as he runs into my arms when I go to collect him at the end of the day.
Life as a working Mum is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for some time now, but In true ‘Working Mum’ fashion I have really struggled to find the time, and in truth, peace and quiet to sit down and write this blog post, but finally, here it is.
I’ve always worked, well, not always but since I was 16 I have had income generated from Employment. I’ve worked in shops, cafes, schools and offices, and even on a building site.. in the site office! I have found great friends through my working life, learnt so much about myself and others and found a deep love for helping people. I quickly learnt that being unhappy at work could have a huge impact on my well being, especially when I worked in a Call Centre and found myself going through periods of stress and unhappiness. Eventually I learnt to trust myself enough to look elsewhere, I knew I didn’t want to go back into teaching, and I wanted to keep youth work for voluntary experiences so found myself in one of the happiest jobs I’ve ever had with Heron Brothers an amazing construction company who were responsible for a multi million pound build, constructing a new building for the school I used to go to. I was immensely happy whilst working on the building site.
Often male workers in the building trade are victims of unfair stereotyping, but I can honestly say that the men I had the pleasure of working with from 2015-2017 on the Foyle College site were absolute Gentlemen, supportive colleagues and great friends to me.
Throughout my pregnancy I struggled with intense bouts of morning sickness for a number of weeks. I battled on to work regardless and despite several trips to the toilet to be sick, the odd tearful mood and tiredness galore (to list a few of my symptoms) I would find the men bringing me water, surprise gifts of fruit and chocolate on my desk and always providing a listening ear, they were always excited to see scan photos and hear of the progress of my little baby growing in my tummy! I felt like I was working with family and they really contributed to my happy pregnancy! This day last year, It was great to pop in with Liam the gateman on the building site to introduce him to my son. I remember excitedly discussing my imminent return to work and feeling really excited about being reunited with my colleagues, little did I know my plans would change and I wouldn’t be returning to Heron Brothers after all.
As the end of Maternity leave drew closer I arranged to go back to work, set the date and made contact with my Colleagues to let them know I was coming back. The location of my work had changed since I had gone off on Maternity leave, meaning I’d have an hour drive there and back each day. I was excited to see my colleagues again but extremely nervous about leaving David and found myself crying inconsolably a number of nights close to my return date, I felt like my heart was going to break into tiny pieces, I just couldn’t imagine being without my darling son. Eventually I made the difficult decision to hand in my notice, to find somewhere closer to home to enable me to spend more time with my Family.
Starting a new job is nerve wracking, starting a new job after Maternity leave, and after giving up a job where I was genuinely heart-happy was worse again. I found myself to be nervous, not as confident as usual and I missed David terribly. I took a job close to home but still had to work 9 to 5. The days away from David were long, and even though I couldn’t wait to see him when I came home each day, I was exhausted. If you’re a Mummy and your reading this, I get how tiring it is, but it does get better, you do adjust to the hours, and bedtime and playtime become so much more special.
When it came to childcare, we have been so incredibly blessed with my Mum looking after David full time, and my Husbands Mum taking him two afternoons a week. The peace it brings me knowing he is with family is tremendous, but I still suffer badly on certain days with a deep missing for my son, and a guilt from leaving him. It’s a delight to see him at the end of every day, and I’m much more confident at work now than when I first started back. I found a new-new job with hours that suited me better so have more time in the evening with David, I love my colleagues, love the work and feel energised at the end of the day, ready to enjoy special family times. It all worked out.
No matter what your work, or stay at home Mum status is, I applaud you, I know now as a Mummy that every decision for our children comes from deep within the heart. We’re all doing our very best, and we should be supporting one another with love and encouragement. If you’re reading this, Mama, be encouraged, I’m sure you’re doing a great job for your family.