Rewind two weeks…early morning, dress Alaia in her best attire and ready to hit the road. Nerves kick in, feels like a job interview. Arrive.Outside, looks impressive. Enter. Uninterested employees. Snotty children. Weird smells, random child who clearly has a cold begging me to hold him. This was my first welcome to childcare hunting. (Note: I know they are all not like this!!!)
I never really believed in toddler instincts until that day. First centre (described above), Alaia clinging to my leg for dear life. The second and third were the same. Way to make mama feel at ease right? Fourth. We entered to the scent of incredible food and Alaia dashed to the kids quicker than I could say boo. The centre was incredibly clean, the educators were amazing as was the outdoor area and my prior research indicated they had an ‘exceeding’ rating which is rare. Victory!
Well, kind of. I would quickly learn my elation was slightly premature.
Fast forward to today, THE day.
Today was filled with so many bitter sweet moments. There was plenty of tears, let me tell you (me included) but, I simply had to persevere as I’d committed to this decision. After a while Alaia settled and I left. It was short lived. I received a call to come back only a couple of hours later as Alaia still wasn’t fully settled. Needless to say, it was an emotional rollercoaster for us both.
You see, the concept of childcare has always been a hard notion for me to swallow. I grew up to a single mother who worked two jobs to provide for us, so I was forever in before school care and after school care, you think I would be warmed to the idea but, all I wanted back then was more time with my mum. But now I recognise she had no choice.
I promised myself the day I became a mother I would commit to being a stay at home one. Contradiction right? Yep. But what if being a stay at home mum meant losing who I was? Is that fair? I know a few of you are who are reading this with judgey eyes are nodding right now – but does it really make you any better of a mother if you choose to be a full stay at home mum or not? I think not. I realised that part of my identity lie in my corporate role. I thrive in the corporate environment and having my brain stimulated is something I SO need. For me, (and this is by no means an attack on any mother because everyone is different which is a wonderful thing) there is a huge limitation to how many bottle, sleep and nappy conversations I can tolerate! My brain was screaming for something more. So, in my own mind I compromised to just a couple of days a week but no night work (a part of my job as a writer required late night tender writing). These compromises would mean I would still have the ability to be the mother I dreamed of for Alaia but also retain myself in the process. And so the decision was made.
Today was hard, I am not going to deny it. The mama guilt was overwhelming, I was second guessing my decision all morning. BUT, I will still go and give it another shot next week.
It’s so important not to lose ourselves as women just to be the mother society dictates us to be. What about us? What about what we want? And in reality do we ever stop being mamas anyway? Being a mama is full time job and we are always on call anyway.
So, whether you decide to return to work or be a stay at home mum, just be the mother YOU want to be. No one has the right to judge your position until they have lived the life. Everyone’s decisions are based on their own experiences and should be respected. It’s what works for you and your family – and this extends far beyond just the work debate. I’ve already dabbled in that conversation before so I’ll leave that aside.
Because at the end of the day, if you sacrifice who YOU are to be the mum you THINK you should be or TOLD you should be (according to society), are you really any good to anyone if you end up empty yourself? Is that really the example you want for your children?
Food for thought.
We’re all mamas at the end of the day and we are all pretty fricken amazing no matter what we decide to do!