This week I was suppose to go back to work, full time work, after 2 years of Maternity Leave. Thankfully I had the courage to stop procrastinating and tell them of my intentions to not return, then, once a simple email confirming this in writing was sent, I was officially out of the workforce. No thanks for coming, no sorry to see you go, no good luck, nothing. I guess after 2 years they don’t really notice I am not there so why would they say anything? If anything they were probably expecting it. I am happy in my decision, I doubt I would get much satisfaction out of the job now, and it would only take me about a week to remember all the little things that use to drive me crazy. Like, you know, all the work stuff. Although I am a little annoyed that I won’t get the Christmas Hamper this year and will have to buy my own ham!
At the time I started my leave I never thought going back to work would be an issue for me. I had finally created a position for myself that enabled me to implement some of my creative side, I had relative autonomy in my role and there was negotiations for a pay rise after spending far too long on the ‘junior’ rate. I spent a lot of years working and studying to gain my degree and I was determined to not have that go to waste by staying at home with small children. At that point I thought I would be begging to go back after 12 months. How wrong I was. I was still breastfeeding and could not bear the thought of someone else taking care of Skye all day, she just seemed too young. I spoke to the HR department and since returning part time was not something they were able to offer, they suggested I take another 12 months off. I was so relieved. I had given myself another 12 months breathing space. But even then I knew I would probably not want to go back at all.
There are a couple of things that I miss about being in the paid workforce though. Like when people would ask “how was work?'” I was able to vent a bit about a crappy day and people would sympathise rather than respond with comments on how hard it must be sitting at home watching TV all day (because that never gets old, really). Or walking through the door, pouring myself a glass of wine and knowing that my day was over, I had signed off and didn’t have to think about work again until the next morning. Or, the biggest issue for me, having any real control over my schedule. My expectation of getting any activity done in a designated amount of time no longer applies. How does it take me 2 hours to wash up now? It never did before. Well I never had to stop to change a TV channel, or unclip a highchair for the umpteenth time so Skye can re clip it, or get her her own set of gloves and bubble bowl to play with, or explain why the dog doesn’t want to eat her sultanas, or ask her to leave her pants on. If someone interrupted me that much when I was at work I would have given them a written warning!
Despite the happy memories I have of my employed life, its a life that has no relevance to me right now. Sure, I don’t get to wear heels and my favourite Veronika Maine dress anymore, instead I get to spend my days with someone I love unconditionally, guiding her development and teaching her the values that matter to us most. I get to see her personality grow each day as she becomes more independent, and share her joy in learning new things, all the while knowing that I have been responsible for helping her achieve these things. There are still some really tough days on the job and I need to speak to someone about the pay, but for us, right now, it is definitely the best option.
What were your expectations on returning to work?
Did they change once you had a baby?