And then I became a mum.
|can't bear to be apart from his sweet face|
Never in my life have I felt more conflicted. The thought of leaving Alexander even for a day makes me feel sick. Yet at the same time, I find myself fantasizing about witty adult banter and engaging my brain in ways that I can't while I'm in babyland. The thought of losing my financial independence scares the hell out of me and I wonder what would happen if Stu (touch wood) loses his job?
So I thought I would speak to other mums who have had to make the decision to work or stay home, in order to learn about how they came to that decision and find out just how they make it work. Today, I start this series with Julie, who has done it all; she has been a full time working mum, a stay at home mum and is now working part time. Here is her story...
I have done a lot of options when it comes to Motherhood. I was a younger single Mum, and now I am an older partnered Mum. I have even had one 'natural' birth and one emergency caesarean birth. Two children nineteen years and four days apart, who would have thought I would have had "that much" age gap between my children?
|Julie and Tamika|
|Julie and Jarvis|
With Tamika I pretty much returned to work straight away, I hated leaving Tamika with a passion, it broke my heart having to be apart from her. I would start work around five pm, so I would drop Teak off at my Mum's. I normally finished between midnight and one am, so I would pick up my sleeping child and go home and try to get as much sleep as possible. Which was normally only four or five hours a night.
I worked evenings so I could spend my days with Tamika. This was the best option available to me, plus I was lucky with Tamika I got a baby who would sleep well at night. Mum would put her down around 6 pm, with a bottle of milk I had expressed for her, and she would sleep through until I picked her up. We would go home and I would give her another feed and she would normally sleep until 5am or 6am. Pretty much from the start Tamika would sleep in good four to five hour chunks during the night. Even now as a 21 year old she is a good sleeper.
With Tamika I was constantly exhausted and racked with guilt that I was working and apart from her. When she turned four, I started uni, so I was able to get Austudy and spend as much time with her as possible. It was amazing. So we balanced primary school years with me working part time and studying part time.
I always wanted dozens of children, so when Justin and I got together in my late 30s I knew I had a small chance at having more children. Fours years of trying, coupled with fertility treatments I became pregnant.
I worked up until 37 weeks full time, during this I put half my income away every week. I figured if I could live off half my income for a year while pregnant I could live off the other half after Jarvis was born. Because I also got the baby bonus I was able to live off my savings for over 18 months.
Then, even though I am a very frugal spender, I began to use my credit card. So with mounting debts, when Jarvis was 22 months, I went back to work part time. I was more comfortable with the choice this time, as at the same time my partner quit working full time and began to work on his own photography business from home.
I only accept shifts at work when Justin is not shooting. We both agreed one of us would always be with him. Last week I worked almost full time, this week I am only doing one shift as Justin is pretty much booked day and night every day this week.
Interestingly Justin claimed last week he got nothing done when I was at work, that Jarvis is so full on with his energy he needs constant attention. Which is a change from when he worked full time and would always ask "but what do you do all day?" I also struggle when I work as the days I do I come home to a clingy child who will not go to sleep unless he is holding me.
I try to balance my week with Jarvis. One day at home, then one day out. We have chickens and a veggie patch, so days at home are spent with big chunks in the yard. Unlike Tamika, Jarvis is not a great sleeper, so I find the more activities we do during the day, the better he sleeps at night. I even try to take him for an hour walk at night after dinner to try to burn off some of his energy. During his nap I squeeze in 'me' time and sew or I blog over at Iliska Dreams
In an ideal world I would not work and be a full time Stay at Home Mum, or at the very least work from home, I adore both my children and love being with them.
Motherhood is... the best, the hardest, and the most important thing I have ever done.
Thank you Julie for sharing your motherhood journey. It just continues to amaze me what mums are prepared to sacrifice for their children and you are truly an inspiration to me.