Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Working Mums are from Mars?

I had one of those moments today. I was talking to one of the other mums in the playground this afternoonl. She was coming to the end of a year on maternity leave and was not looking forward to going back to work.

"I didn't enjoy maternity leave", I said, "I couldn't wait to go back to work"

She looked at me like I was from outer space:

Meez 3D avatar avatars games

"Uh oh", I thought, "Said the wrong thing again"

Surely, I can't be that odd?

You see, the thing is, I've always been a worker. At one point I had three jobs at the same time in order to save some money to return to University to do my PGCE (teaching qualification). I guess I'm also lucky that I have a job I enjoy and, however frustrating or stressful it gets, I derive a sense of achievement and satisfaction from it.

Add to that the fact that I have never been a 'baby' person. I've done the 'duty visit' thing when friends had babies. I took the gift, said the right things, but had no desire to actually hold the baby that was often thrust in front of me.

"It'll be different when it's your own", they said.

It wasn't.

(Oh, how much is conveyed in those two words, but that's a whole other post)

Returning to work was a huge relief. I felt that 'this is what I do', 'this is what I'm best at'. After feeling like a 'non-person' with no place in society, I felt useful again. (This is in no way a criticism of people who don't return to work - it's just how it was for me). As soon as I stepped back into my familiar classroom the real 'me' returned. Handing daughter over to 'fabulous childminder' to care for and entertain while I was at work was right for me. The time I then spent with daughter was enough. I still saw the milestones (crawling, walking, talking) and I had fun with her at the weekends.

Is that so strange?

Why did that mum think I was peculiar to want to return to work?

Do we still live in a society where working mums are only understood if they do so for finiancial reasons?

Are mums who choose to work still considered selfish?

I was lucky enough to have a choice and I made mine. I was happy with it. Gradually daughter changed from baby to toddler to gorgeous girl and, if I could take my maternity leave now ......................................

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......... well, that would be a different story!

19 comments:

Sass E-mum said...

I don't think you are a freak. It's good to know that some people get the right job for them.

Of course, if you had a SECOND baby you could have maternity leave now (give or take nine months).

BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Frog in the Field said...

Oh dear! She'll learn.
What a dull life if we were all the same! and we all have the right to do what we are happy with!!
When child no.3 started Primary School I said "Hooray!" and threw my arms in the air...boy did I get some scowls. But, I have been a full time Mum for years (and it's what really suited us)...mind you, do you think this has anything to do with me now being a complete mad type person? (Twitch!)

Suburbia said...

You are so right! I'm not a baby person AT ALL! I much prefer mine now they are older, but hardly see them, there's something wrong there isn't there?! Defered maternity leave must be the answer.

Really Rachel said...

I feel the same way about needing to do something other than 'just' being a mum. SP tells me that being a mum is very important (and I love it!) but somehow that isn't enough. There was No Way I wanted to return to teaching (didn't like it anywhere near as much as you do!) but now I run my own business from home and that gives me a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Keep up the good work Working Mum!!

Nicol said...

That mother probably felt strongly that she wanted to be home rather than work. I think it is different for everyone. I was one like that mother who would do anything to be home. It took some time but I am now a stay-at-home-mom. No easy task, but I feel that I am raising a person who will have strong values and will be a part of society some day. I will let her choose whether or not she wants to work or be home.

I should also say, that I am a much happier person when I am home. Since you are happy with your job, I'm sure that makes a huge difference. Perhaps that mother isn't happy with her work?

I also want to say that I, and probably thousands of other US mothers, that we are green with envy over your 1 yr maternity leave. We get 6 weeks and some people are lucky to get 3 months. I got 2 weeks (self-employed as a daycare provider and the parents needed me) and I was miserible!

Most important whether you work or not is if you are happy.

gigi said...

My SIL, who is also a school teacher is the same way. She's not a baby person but my brother was. He did wonderful with the new borns and up to 2 years. They have 3 children. She is a fabulous mom but is so much more comfortable with the older children. She went right back to work and he was a stay at home dad for a while. What ever works for you and your family is Right!

skywind said...

Now the job under immense pressure. If you leave the maternity leave, come back after the job may be better than the past. : (

http://eyesinkaleidoscope.blogspot.com/
http://fymtyh.blogspot.com/

Claire Sutton said...

I remember you telling me years ago that if you could have an older child and not have to go through the baby years then you would much prefer that. It didn't strike me as odd (although I do know you!), many parents would say the same if pressed and if they were very honest.

The world is full of different sorts of parents and different sorts of parenting styles and you have to find what works best for each member of your family, no easy feat.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

It's a bit sad how we can criticise other mums' choices. I think one of the truest cliches I've heard is 'A happy mum means a happy child'. Personally, I can't imagine that I could be happy being a full-time stay-at-home mum, but equally I don't think I could be happy going at to work 9-5. For me, working from home is what keeps me both sane and happy. But I know other mums who wouldn't be happy being anything other than a stay-at-home mum until their children are in school.

I am not much of a baby person either, though was fortunate enough to enjoy my daughter's babyhood (and hopefully will enjoy this next one's too) for the most part.

Moannie said...

It's horses for courses isn't it?

There are no rights and wrong, except where the silly woman put her wants on you. We all know someone who believes that what she does, thinks, wants is the right thing.
What a loss it would be to your pupils to lose a great teacher to the nursery, plus the time you do spend with your daughter is quality.

family affairs said...

Each to their own....I lost myself for far too long in amongst babyhood and took an age to find myself again...however, I think it may have something to do with the job you do ... how perfect to be a teacher and have kids - you can almost pick them up from school and be there for weekends - a full time lawyer is a very different story Lx

Dusty Spider said...

I really believe a child is happiest with happy parents so it's right to do what makes you happy. I was happiest at home with my kids, so that's what I did. I built a career for myself when my youngest started senior school. It worked for us. Everyone is different, thank goodness. Flick xx

Working mum said...

Nicol - I am surprised that you still only get 6 weeks maternity leave in the US, it used to be that in the UK, but we have a better system now where you can choose the length of your maternity leave up to a year and there are different levels of maternity pay for different lengths of time. I took four and a half months off, but six is more normal. Now the UK is starting to improve paternity leave as well - my husband got three days paid, but could choose two weeks unpaid instead - I think it's better for dads now. I hope the US catches up soon!

I think Moannie has summed it up well - horses for courses.

Claire - you are so right. I don't think it strange if a mum wants to stay at home or go to work; whatever works for each family. This works for us.

And Family Affairs points out something very important - as a teacher I can drop daughter off and pick her up from school and do my marking after she's gone to bed. I also get sickeningly long school holidays to spend with her as well. This does make working mum life a little easier!

Mean Mom said...

I adore babies - the younger the better! I wasn't crazy about them until I had one of my own, but, with my own 3 children, I loved those first few magical days, after coming home from hospital. I do understand that everyone is different, however and I don't expect everyone to feel the same way.

I stayed at home to look after my children, but I get irritated by any mother who thinks that their way is the only way. Mothers, in general, need to be more tolerant of each other's choices. Any mother should be able to work, or stay at home, without suffering criticism from others. What does it matter, as long as the child doesn't suffer?

Reluctant Housewife said...

I don't think you're a freak. If I had a job I loved, I'd want to get back to it, too. That's why I'm going to school - to get a job I love.

Polly said...

Better to know who you are and what works for you than to have no idea and lose enormous amounts of sleep over it.

You should feel no guilt, its perfectly obvious that you are a wonderful mother and you make it work. Good on you.

sallymandy said...

So well said! Of course you're not a freak. People love their kids and relate to different ages better than others. That's my opinion. I personally love babies, but also understand very easily how one wouldn't. Hubby prefers teenagers. So...

But I also had many mixed emotions in the social circle I was in when I became a mom. In my case it wasn't going back to work, but being an older mom that was "weird." Just another case of thinking the person who's different is wrong, huh?

Be true to yourself....

Crystal Jigsaw said...

It should be a woman's choice whether she feels the need to return to work or be at home with child. Sometimes money dictates it for us but a lot of the time a woman just wants well deserved independence. We are all different and have many opinions across the globe. I wasn't maternal at all, never was and never have been but I didn't want to return to work. I stayed home with Amy.

You must never think you are selfish. You are a wonderful mother and that's all anyone needs to know.

CJ xx

Iota said...

I think it's a spectrum. Very few people are completely at one end or the other. My guess is that for most of us, a part-time job would be the ideal (one that fits totally with our desires, is flexible enough to allow time off at the drop of a hat, gives enough holiday to coincide with all the school holidays... you get the picture).

I don't think there's a right or wrong. You sound confident enough to ride out the silly reactions, though. Good for you.