It’s International Womens Day today. The 8th of March. I’m thinking back to how last years IWD feels like yesterday and I was hauling my heavily pregnant bottom in heels into an early morning breakfast. It was all very corporate and fancy with a panel of speakers and Tracey Spicer was the MC. Very pleasing indeed.
Today for IWD I’ve done drop off, put the bebe to sleep and am sitting at my new work space in the living room. I have an empty coffee cup that I need to refill, a mind full of ideas and questions, and a happy heart that’s a only a tiny bit sad.
I have about eight weeks of maternity leave left and this has me rather anxious. I’m heading back into the workforce on 30 April, to a new role, its better paying with more responsibility. It is a good job – a step in the right direction – if only I knew what direction that is! But I don’t really want to leave my baby or step out of the routine I’ve established with my girls. And I am acutely aware that this is a heartache countless mothers face every day of the year.
Little L is my last baby and we have a truly special bond. She’s healed so much of my heart when it comes to raising babies. With her I have had true joy over the last eight months, and it has really opened my eyes to how much I genuinely struggled with M and A when they were small. I still breast feed L on demand. I am hoping that I can continue feeding once I’m back at work and the bottles she will have at care won’t see her wean herself too soon.
All these things that as a woman you have to think about. The mental load has been documented and discussed far and wide (these links are to two of my favourites). And today on IWD I can’t help but wonder sometimes if what we’ve been sold is a bit shit. I’m of the generation who is now in her late 30s and was told she could do anything and so she sort of did – career, travel, relationships, partied – and now married and mortgaged with three healthy daughters finds herself feeling somewhat trapped.
The “flexibility” we are sold doesn’t really exist. There’s still the challenges of who is dropping which child off and to where, and who is picking them up, and who gets them if one is sick, and essentially the elephant in the room is, “whose career is more important?”
I understand why the “side hustle” and the whole “mum-preneur” thing is a thing. Because it feels that if you want to see your kids and be involved in their life it is necessary. We are required to find ways to stand on our feet and provide an income independent of the mainstream workforce.
And this has a little bit to do with why I’ve set a workspace up. I’ve really noticed how much happier I am when I am writing and reading every day. I’ve actually started writing a book and I am hoping that integrating the desk and computer into our living area might mean I get to spend more moments working on my writing. It might also mean I end up watching more cat videos on You Tube with the kids, but both is a win.
And then there’s this other “womens” mental load that I carry. When I go back to work I will still be breast feeding. I’ll have to pack a breast pump each day and take myself off to the bathroom and pump milk to keep my supply up. I’ll need to wear breast pads incase of a leak and I’ll be conscious of whether said breast pads are able to be seen under my corporate attire. I still haven’t gotten my period back and each day I wonder if it will start and every feeling related to that has me on edge thinking, “is that it?” Perhaps small things but they take up space.
And then there’s knowing the baby we lost in 2016 would have turned one recently. I’ve always thought that baby was a boy and in my mind we would have named him Jude. I planted this azalea after we lost him and it blossomed the other day, around when it would have been his first birthday. Funny how the world works. Or maybe it isn’t coincidence and the world knows. I don’t think we work this sort of stuff out until the end. Until we cross over and it is clear.
All of this said, we have a good life. These things will work out and I know that between the husband and I we will get through the next transition period and our budget and purse tightening is going to pay dividends. So you know, its not like we are really struggling. We are very happy and I am very grateful for what we have.
For now though I’ve been setting the intentions to be present with the girls and enjoy the next few weeks. Embrace them and immerse myself in the routine and being with them. To try and cement some memories with them, especially with M and A, of when mummy wasn’t working. I remember so clearly the years up until I was 7 and my mum didn’t work. They were slow and happy times. I hope my girls can look back on this time and remember that too.
There’s no take home message or inspiration with this post. Just a story of what a real person is thinking on IWD 2018. I hope my daughters benefit from the lessons I have learnt and the plight of equality for our sisters around the world continues. I hope I can one day wake in the morning and run in the dark and not be concerned about my safety. I hope that when my daughters are juggling it all they feel supported and confident in their choices.