Behind closed doors: Pro

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions tobehindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

Ever since I was 15, I’ve given my period a silent party in the bathroom. Every month, sometimes a little tardy but there nevertheless, I let out a big breath, a sigh and a whispered ‘yessss’.

So when, 10 years later, I was left waiting, party-poppers at the ready, I worried. Halfway through an important meeting I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea, and I knew. Four tests over a couple of days were vague, but I knew.

As I took myself off to the doctors, I wished someone was holding my hand. I knew it was the best thing to do, but I needed someone else to say it too. But no one else could. The internet labelled me a murderer and told me that I was killing a human being.  I felt sad and cold, as if I had committed the largest atrocity.

It’s not the guilt for what could have been, the small life, but the pain that I feel for those missing out. Those couples whowould be thrilled at the surprise and give a cheer of their own, those who pray for their time, or have to have long andpainful procedures. Instead there’s me, on the way to the gym, toying with holiday plans and kitchen renovations in my head, telling the doctor I can’t have a baby.

It kills me that I wouldn’t be letting out a sigh of relief this month … but neither would any of those couples above. I wish I could magically pass it on, rather than have to just draw aline and say STOP.

What gives me the choice, where others have no option but to pray? Where are their choices?

It doesn’t make me sad that I may have stopped a potential life, but what does is that some people don’t have the choice.Why should some girls be forced to have a baby at the same age that I had my first boyfriend? When some ladies can’t choose between motherhood, or a career (or indeed doing both). When some feel they have to run away or find illegal and dangerous help.

It doesn’t upset me that I won’t have this child, but what does is that there are people out there who can’t because they can’t get the help they need. We are grateful for the NHS and other services that can help should we choose to have a child. Why should we be able to pay for multiple rounds of IVF, when others can’t get an ovulation test when they are choosing to try for a family?

We are lucky to be able to choose to have, or not to have, a baby. Whether or not I made the right choice is a matter which is much less important than the issue of allowing women, and couples, the ability to choose at all.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Health
5 interesting thoughts on this

Baby-watching

Thank you for bearing with us whilst we had some downtime last week, readers. We’re back with a beautiful post from Katy this morning and have a full week of content ahead / including an AOP! Such joy. 

Katy’s is my favourite kind of writing. Simple, thoughtful, almost letting you be inside her head for a moment. And it’s lovely, so lovely. 

Last week, I made friends with a toddler on a train. She and her parents got on one stop after me and managed to settle themselves down with baby, bags, books and coats, but baby’s big sister wasn’t havingany of this sensibly planned activity and instead decided to dance around the aisle for a while. Both girls had gorgeous ginger hair and big brown eyes: they were adorable.

The toddler looked around her and started to explore, and to her delight, found some similar age girls to make friends with. Within seconds, they were “doing dancing” in the aisle and then running up to the baby and making silly faces to make her laugh. Gradually the noise level went up, and the parents started to look a bit stressed. Then the little girl bumped into me as she performed a twirl. “Careful!” exclaimed mum, and cast a worried look in my direction. I smiled to try to signal that it was OK, but didn’t say anything. Mum was by this point more occupied with baby, who was just on the edge of starting to cry.

I kept sneaking glances at the toddlers, who had now moved on to experimenting with whether they could hop on one foot (answer: only one of the three had so far mastered this skill, but they could all shout “Hop!”), while trying to read my book. Baby – who looked very warm and cosy in a cute fluffy all-in-one – had continued to complain until Mum started to breastfeed her, Dad carefully holding up a cardigan to create their own little private corner. I kept stealing glances at her too. (As an ignorant non-parent, who knew breast-feeding could take so long?! All of you, I’m sure). Eventually my stop arrived and the family carried on – I had never spoken a word to them.

If I had spoken, perhaps I would have said, please don’t assume that because I’m keeping an eye on your daughter, I find her annoying. I couldn’t take my eyes off her because a) she’s adorable and b) I wanted to make sure she didn’t bang her head on anything. Please let me apologise if I looked at you breast-feeding and you thought that was inappropriate. Please know, just for a minute in your busy, hassled life, that you are beautiful with your big brown eyes and so are your lovely children. I couldn’t stop looking at you because I envy everything you have; and perhaps, when you saw me sitting quietly with a book and a pastry, you might have wanted what I had for a few minutes instead of being in charge of a noisy toddler. But I bet – I hope! – you wouldn’t really swap. And I know that right now is not the right time for me to have children, and there’s plenty of time yet, and I very much hope that I will come to experience everything you have when I have had time to enjoy my quiet existence with my book and my pastry.

In the mean time, I can only apologise to all parents out there for being an avid baby-watcher, and say I hope you take it as a compliment.

Categories: Becoming a Mother
4 interesting thoughts on this

Behind closed doors: Healing

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions tobehindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

Just over three years ago my boyfriend of a decade sat down in front of me – the man I lived with, the man who’d told me we would be engaged very soon – and told me he didn’t want our relationship anymore. What he did want, I found out afterwards, was the woman he’d been having an affair with

There’s nothing that can prepare you for that moment. The weird calm where you’re dividing your things up and breaking apart two lives, the next moment filled with so much confusion and anger for his cowardice, for his lies. Going from being a part of someone’s life, of talking to them everyday to…nothing. I pretty much sleep walked (slept walked?!?) my way through the next 12 months. The utter loneliness of going from a relationship to being single, the constant overtime I took on so I wouldn’t have time to think, sheer exhaustion through constantly waking up at 4am. It all came to a head almost a year later when I realised I was thinking far too seriously, and far too often, about ending it all

I needed a change. So I left. I took on my biggest challenge ever and headed away on what would be 18 months of hard work, adventure and (cheese alert) finding myself.

I still had moments where I thought about the past, where I grieved for what had happened and wondered just where it all went wrong…even moments where I felt utterly sorry for myself and hated the fact that he had waltzed off, seemingly blissfully happy, to a new life while I was left to pick up the pieces, to doubt everything and to have to contemplate just how the heck I start again

But you know what, out of sight, out of mind, and slowly but surely I was healing. Helped by my wonderful friends, old and new. Helped by starting to discover that, on my own, I did have a lot of great qualities and I started to like myself

Returning to the UK wasn’t the scary home-coming that I thought it would be. It wasn’t an assault to the senses and a reminder of the past. It really felt like a new start. A new home in a new place. Somewhere with absolutely no memories. Then recently I got hit by some potentially scary health news. Time (and tests) will tell what the next step is.

I don’t know what to think. On the surface I’m doing fine, but I can feel the old self doubt coming back. Sometimes, when it’s late and I’m tired, I get the little ‘why me’ voice. I try to silence it, ‘why not me’, but it’s really hard. And it’s times like this when the loneliness returns. My friends are wonderful, they truly are, but they are no substitute for the one person that knows you best, who is part of your team. Who is there in the middle of the night, or offering you security. I miss that. Not him. That. I get scared I’ll never have that again, I’m still too nervous of rejection to seriously start dating, I am scared of what the next few months hold healthwise, but every now and then I look back at what I’ve achieved over the last three years, things I never even imagined and I let myself think, “I’ll be ok.”

It’s all about one step at a time, right?

Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Infidelity
6 interesting thoughts on this

The Guilt

Oh, how I love Steff.  She’s dealt with THE JUDGEMENTAL INTERNET and THE MOTHERHOOD GUILT TRAIN in one superb, ranty, eloquent post and knocked them both out of the park.  It will come as no surprise that I agree with Steff’s points (hello, day 5 of working and being a mother) – not all of you will agree like I do, but I bet you emerge from this post wanting to poke the Internet in its judgey-face eye.

And who could ask for more than that on a Wednesday?

Over to you, Steff:

This has been building for a while, I’ve been mulling it over quietly for a long time, not so quietly in the last few months and I’ve finally reached my tipping point.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge lover of technology.  I love social media for all the wonderful ways in which it has made the world a much smaller place.  It means I can keep up with the goings on of all my friends who are out globetrotting and they, in turn, can bore themselves witless looking at endless photos of The Peas should they so desire.  It does things like reunite lost dogs and teddy bears with their owners (Max and Cheesy Leo thank you, internet!), raise awareness of brilliant campaigns that seem to spawn from nowhere (no makeup selfie anyone?) and bring together communities of like-minded people previously geographically separated (oh hi lovely AOW ladies of Twitter!).  It does all these brilliant things and so much more but because the content is largely ungoverned and community generated it opens gates for all manner of unsavoury topics to pass in front of your eyes.

When my own mum became a mother and, indeed, when my older sisters became mothers social media wasn’t around to lecture them about how to parent their children properly, they had their elders for that.  I’m not so fortunate, sure I have my elders but I also have this faceless, nameless, preachy monkey on my back constantly telling me I’m doing the wrong thing, I’m not crafty enough, I spend too much time cleaning (HAH! As if!).

Somehow, somewhere I lost control of what I was seeing on social media (Facebook in particular).  I no longer have the ability to not watch a video that my friend has shared of a woman beating a baby with a pillow because the Facebook app automatically plays videos that you scroll to.  I see what my ‘friends’ have ‘liked’ but not the content of the page that I have ‘liked’.  I see things that the girl I went to high school with posts but not the things my mother in law posts.  So in the past you may have told me to just stop following the people who post these guild inducing posts but now my only option is to opt out altogether.

Before I became a mother myself I would see these particular posts floating around my timeline and vaguely ponder the nice words and the pretty pictures.  That has changed since The Peas arrived.  Perhaps I’m over sensitive.  Perhaps my own insecurities are what I’m fighting against but I know one thing is for sure, if I’m feeling it then someone else out there is too and I’ve had enough of it.  Whether well meaning, innocent or downright laden with agenda, the guilt has to stop.

Posts which preach how important it is to spend time with your children, that they’re only young for a short time, that the washing can wait, that you can surely spend a few years as a stay at home mum rather than working, that it only takes seconds to give your child a hug.  I know all of these things, I do.  I feel bad enough about the fact that I spend 3 days working and not with my girls.  It’s taken me over a year to be able to feel happy about returning to rugby and indulging in a little “me” time on a regular basis.  I don’t need to be bombarded with these passive aggressive poems making me feel just a little bit more shit about myself each time I see them.

Read More »

Categories: Becoming a Mother
23 interesting thoughts on this

Holiday reading

Books, glorious books! It’s what we do, really, here at AOW. Linsey has a review of her holiday reads for us today – I’ve only read one (Middlesex) but will be planning to fit the other three onto my ‘to read’ list…

Having just returned from a week in Croatia spent mainly reading, eating and drinking I thought I’d share my holiday reading with you all. My reviews aren’t particularly insightful but I really enjoyed all of these books so wanted to pass them on. But as you all know, the best bit of any book post is the comments so I’m hoping to pick up some more titles to add to my ever-expanding reading list too!

 

More Than This - Patrick Ness

I’m a bit of a Patrick Ness fangirl since reading the excellent Chaos Walking trilogy.  More Than This is another dystopian YA novel with the simple opening line ‘Here is the boy, drowning’. Seth wakes up literally alone in the world and sets out to discover what happened between his drowning and his waking. I was hooked from the start; I raced through this book and finished it in a day. No spoilers, but the ending is left ambiguous which often frustrates me but I didn’t mind it this time. Read this. Also the hardback cover is a beauty.

 

Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris

This is a book of essays about Sedaris’ life in New York and later when he moves to France. He is very self-deprecating about everything in his life and very funny. I don’t normally read non-fiction but I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud multiple times and do that really annoying thing of reading bits out to my husband. When I finished it I wishedI’d brought his entire back catalogue of books on holiday with me and I’m a bit gutted I missed him on tour in April.

 

Coraline - Neil Gaiman

Another YA book, probably aimed slightly younger than More Than This, but still an enjoyable, quick read. Coraline is a dark, creepy story about a girl who discovers that a bricked up door leads to another version of her home, complete with an Other Mother and Father, that she needs to escape from. The version I read had beautiful illustrations and a section with notes from the author on the process of writing the book. I’m going to watch the animated film now to see how the book compares.

 

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

This was the book I received from Beth in the AOW bookswap. In her card she said that she picked it as she got the impression that I liked a good story. She was right and this pick was perfect.

Middlesex is told by the narrator Cal Stephanides, an intersex man who started out life as a girl. But the book begins much further back when Cal’s grandparents were young, and uses the family history to trace the path of the genetic mutation thatcauses Cal’s condition. But it’s about much more than this and is such a hard book to define. It’s a funny story about immigrants, the American dream, medical problems, growing up…. It’s just about family with all their quirks, and is the sort of book you finish and immediately want to lend to somebody so you can discuss it with them.

Categories: Books
4 interesting thoughts on this

Weekend Wonderings

Happy Saturday, readers!  A bit of a link round-up for you today, bringing you the best things I read on the Internet over the last couple of weeks, courtesy of Mr K, my friends and my Twitter feed.

There are no grown-ups, I promise you.  Everyone is faking it, all the time

It turns out holding up signs and hashtags are no substitutes for actually bringing back our girlsSo what do we do now?

This woman had her face photoshopped in 25 countries, to test global beauty standards.  The results are astonishing.  There is no one global beauty ideal.  What does that tell you? 

This man lost his wife, and instead of rage, he revolutionised the NHS.  This is a long read, but an extraordinary one. 

Nigella Lawson is the face of Saatchi “throttle-art”.  I can’t believe that’s a sentence.  But it is.  But what about her? 

Meet the man who’s making a profit and an industry from extra-marital affairs.  He’s vile, but he’s got a hell of a business plan. 

We believed Rolf Harris was an eccentric, kindly, bumbling old man.  We must learn to look beneath the surface.

Aisling and I have a megatron Lauren Laverne crush.  She write about how having a baby can simplify your life, and it’s bang on. 

And finally….James.  Oh JAMES.  The train dispatcher who defines what it means to be a gentleman.

Categories: Weekend Wonderings
1 interesting thought on this

Hold on when you get love and let go when you give it

Today’s is from Siobhan and it is a beaut. With her trademark gutsiness, sense of adventure and blinding honesty, Siobhan talks about moving your love and your life, making new friends and leaving old ones behind. In her email to us, Siobhan mentioned that the title of her post is fast becoming her new motto/theme tune. i can’t think of a better one to live by…
It is a sunny day in Leith.  Matthew and I have taken our skateboards out to a secluded slope near the water and are practicing picking up speed.  I keep bailing. Each time I get a little bit further and a little bit faster before the fear builds up and I jump off for fear of falling off. I jump off because that way I am off the board by choice rather than something taking that choice away from me. The feeling of flying and freedom is too much so I jump off to feel the comfort of the familiar ground beneath my feet.
We are six months in to the move now and there is the possibility that this could be everything we ever wanted it to be.  Things are by no means perfect but there are some amazing opportunities. We have met some fabulous people through the AOW community and in other ways. I do a whole lot more exercise than I used to, get out more and we are open to some even bigger changes but I find myself freaking out. The idea of getting what I want scares me so I try to find problems.
Commuting to London was really difficult but it gave me a bit of familiarity. Something to cling onto and a way to keep a connection to a life I loved but was really struggling with. I miss my friends and colleagues from home but that is something I was prepared for and that is sad but not a problem. I thought making friends would be a real struggle but we seem to have lucked out with that. As such I found myself on one Saturday night after attending two brilliant gatherings with plans for more time with friends coming up worrying that I had TOO MANY friends. I think I am just used to worry.
I found that a massive urge to self destruct crept in.  I pretty much set out to try to figure out how I could most quickly destroy what I had.  How could I undo the fact that I live in a beautiful flat by the water, with an amazing husband, making friends and going out and living the life I want for myself? I actually had plans to destroy it because I felt it had become too easy. I was flying and scared of falling off. I wanted to bail.
Bailing is not an option though. All this might feel like it is coming far too easily but actually it is a lot of hard work that is coming to a point of serendipity and for that matter it is not perfect. The reason we are meeting people is because we say yes to every invitation and go out and meet people. I have seen a bunch of things come together and start to point to an eventual career path that feels like a vocation now but this is following about five years of thinking and at least six months of wondering if it could be a good fit. None of this happened overnight. I worked for this. And you know what? If I fall off and skin my elbows, I will have learned something, and I will have had the courage to feel free and try. I will have let go of my need to control things and felt what comes when you open yourself up to really experiencing life and I think that is worth something.
Hopefully I can go further next time we take out our skateboards. I want to feel the speed, the exhilaration the freedom. I think it could be really good. 
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships
7 interesting thoughts on this

Behind closed doors: life is too short

At Any Other Woman, you can talk about anything. Anything you want at all. Any subject, any time. We are proud to be able to provide that platform for you, it makes our hearts sing. But we do understand that sometimes there are topics that are too sensitive, too divisive, simply too hard to write about and broadcast without a second thought. No-one wants to hurt their loved ones unnecessarily and yet sometimes a story needs to be told.

This is your place for those subjects. A place for you to tell those tales you’d not considered telling before. No names, no justifications, no apologies.

You can send your BCD submissions tobehindcloseddoors@live.co.uk and we promise that you’ll remain anonymous throughout the entire process.

 

I am writing this little piece with the hindsight of events which concluded a couple of months ago and I write partly for my own personal sense of closure and also to just say to others in similar predicaments that no job / relation ship / situation is worth sticking out if it is making you unhappy. Life is short. Make the bits you can control as happy as you can!

Backtrack 7 months. A gorgeous early Autumn day and I am sitting in the well-kept gardens of an esteemed institution of higher education, interview notes in sweaty hand, frantically trying to memorise my presentation and think up some killer lines to bag myself that promotion. I walk up the stone steps, past  gargoyles and ornately framed oil paintings of bygone boffins…I shake hands, I talk, I try to smile, I leave….I get the phone call offering me the job.

Fast forward one month; I am enjoying leaving-do cocktails with much loved former colleagues, doing the cringey “thank you and goodbye” speech, packing my bags and leaving the office for the last time. I have regrets, doubts, worries but am also of full of excitement. This, I thought, would be The Future.

I suppose the warning signs were there from Day One. I discovered that my predecessor had been ill due to the stress of her job. I was witness to some strange and unprofessional behaviour from my line manager and was told, almost as soon as I had unpacked my bag, by one of my fellow office-workers that I needed to “watch my back” and that the culture of the department was negative in the extreme.  I felt intimidated by my manager and I found it very difficult to adjust to the new world in which I was expected to work, succeed and progress.

Now, I am not unused to working in a pressurised environment. Nor am I unused to working amongst academics. I have friends and family members who are academics and am all too aware of the massive and unrelenting pressure on their shoulders. Not only are they responsible for the education of our brightest and best but they are constantly compared in league tables, given ridiculous amounts of work to do, have minimal holidays, have a huge amount of pastoral care to attend to and, perhaps due to the high achieving and competitive nature of the business, work to a rule that enough is never enough. As a member of the support team helping such people achieve these aims, I was aware of my need to prove myself, to meet their targets, to help maintain standards and to ensure that students feel they are getting every penny of their £9k a year.

What I wasn’t prepared for was 4 months of relentless pressure, covert bullying, tears, late nights, more tears, sickness, anxiety and fear. These were my darkest days and after a particularlyunpleasant  meeting with a senior manager, I felt broken. I called my husband, who was working away, and quietly squeaked “I’m leaving. I can’t do this”. I confided in colleagues I trusted. They had my back, and I am eternally grateful to them for taking me for a coffee and helping me. We made a plan, and off I went, pot plant in one hand and Pukka Pad in the other. I resigned by email and never went back. I was prescribed Diazepam by my GP and spent several weeks in my own private hell, feeling scared to speak to anyone, losing all my trust in others and fearful I would ever work again.

One thing this period did do was make me realise that no job is worth that, no money in the world can substitute for mental wellbeing and self esteem. I saw from my window the routines of others, going to work, coming home, going to work again..and I hoped that they did this with a smile, and a sense of pride in themselves. I felt jealous.

Fast forwards another two months and I have a new job, with lovely, supportive people, in a completely different industry. I am slowly but surely regaining my confidence and I still cannot believe that these people chose me to work with them, or that they are not, tomorrow..or the day after…going to suddenly call me into a meeting and rip me to shreds. I’m getting there. But if you are reading this and are currently experiencing work hell, please, please realise there IS life on the other side. Better and more rewarding life. Its scary, I wont deny it, but you can do it! Pick yourself up, ask for help if you need to, but don’t sit at your desk in fear. Life is just too short.

Categories: Behind Closed Doors
8 interesting thoughts on this

Weekend Wonderings

I’ve done that thing where you see someone else with the work of an amazing artist and then you decide that you love them too and you start telling everyone about this fabulous work like you’re the one that discovered it.

Laura snapped a photo of a print that she’d bought for her beautiful baby girl, Arla, and shared it on her Instagram page. This one -

I mean, seriously. Did you ever see anthing so ridiculously ‘perfectly perfect’? That was it, I was hooked. Dallas Clayton, you are my hero.

There’s this one, which makes my eyes do this funny leaky thing…

And this, which is just so wise it makes my head spin…

There is a truth and innocence in his work, a childlike beauty that manages to somehow tap in to every worry or negative thought you’ve ever had and just *poof*, make it go away. You really should follow him on Instagram. All the happiness.

So thank you Laura and Arla and Dallas, for bringing this colour and joy and wisdom into my world. Happy weekend, all.

All images from Dallas Clayton.

 

Categories: Weekend Wonderings
4 interesting thoughts on this

Going Back To Work

This is a post by Penny.  As you’d expect, it’s beautifully worded, and contains uncomfortable truths.  About looking after a baby and about being in the workplace.  About anxiety and how we battle it.  About how we only appreciate what we’ve done once the dust has settled.  

And it’s perfectly timed, because I’m going back to work next week, and leaving Ellie in nursery for five days a week, and I can’t even  begin to untangle how I feel about it.   

Over to you, Penny:

I can’t help it. I find it profoundly annoying that so many colleagues see maternity leave as a holiday.  They refer to it as “a year off” and say they quite fancy it themselves. Whatever Trevor.

The fact that a time off bringing up a baby (although not without its joyous highs) is not quite the same as a year sitting on a Thai beach supping on a bucket is not something I really want to get into here. We’ve all had our fill of “oh you’ll never understand until you’re a parent” parents. I’m not one of those guys.

However. In spite of the last year being the hardest thing I’ve done yet, the thought of it being over and having to go back to my office job still filled me with an inexplicable, primal fear. The kind of feeling you get at the top of the worst rollercoaster, that sickening lurch, but constant, just rolling round and round in your guts like a prickly nervous ball of jitters waiting to explode into your chest at any moment. Now I don’t love my job, which doesn’t help. And there were other contributing factors which added fuel to the anxious fire – being shuffled down due to a company restructure while I was off, a new manager who was out to thwart my flexible working application at any cost, the fact that there would be negligible difference between my pathetic monthly salary and a month of nursery fees, the list goes rather boringly on. But the fear-feeling about going back was somehow more than that. It was like nothing on earth, as if somebody had told me I was about to be burned at the stake and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it.

The back to work fear eventually developed to the point of mania. Applying for flexible working and being put through the wringer by a new boss plucked me from my happiest–ever state and flung me into the most anxious weeks of my life. I was haunted for months by the hysterical belief that my company wanted to take my son away from me, that I was being punished for something I hadn’t done. It wasn’t rational, but even knowing and understanding that how I felt wasn’t grounded in reality didn’t seem to stem the panic. Onlooking friends and family backed away from me slowly, calling me work-shy or hysterical. Maybe I was. Maybe it was the hormones. I don’t know. I do know from other mums that it’s not a unique experience. OK, there’s a spectrum, and I was grinding my teeth at the upper end, but it’s still a feeling a lot of parents have. The night before I went back my husband sat and told me (in a rare show of emotion) about how he felt going back to work after his two weeks paternity leave: “as if something was really badly wrong. I kept waiting for somebody to tap me on the shoulder and say ‘it’s ok, it’s only a dream! Of course you don’t have to go to work and leave your newborn baby at home! What kind of crazy reality would that be?” There is a deeply human truth in there somewhere.

Rather blandly, and reassuringly, a new normality sets in. I’m just coming to the end of my fourth week back at work now. It’s fine. I have not once cried at my desk, nor have I lain on the floor, red-faced and screaming about how I need to see my baby (these are things that I thought would happen at least once a day). Thanks to the company restructure, my job has changed from highly stressful and pointless to being just a little bit dull, which I am managing with better than I expected. I definitely need a new challenge, but I am looking for the right one. I drink more tea than I imagined possible, because I have time to do it now. I wander aimlessly round on my reduced-to-30-minutes lunch-break and wonder what on earth I ever did with a whole hour. I get to sneakily write for my favourite blog in a tiny minimised window in the corner of my screen (HIYA MAN SITTING BEHIND ME) on slow work days.  I am starting to realise that looking after a baby all day every day – even after the 6 month point when it started to feel normal and even manageable at times – is really, really difficult, and maybe you only really realise how difficult it was, and how far you’ve come, when you go back to what you were doing before.

Although not as bad as I’d feared, emotionally speaking, it’s still not easy. I look at pictures of my little boy every hour, and wonder what he is doing every minute. At least every minute. And I do still feel sad, but only very occasionally. I think that’s normal. For the first time in years I had a job where, in spite of not always doing it perfectly, I was really, truly valued – and that was bringing up my child. If I need to work (and I do, for a number of reasons) I need to find at least a tiny echo of that feeling of self-worth in my working day too. With a bit of patience and perseverance, I hope that will come eventually. Just like the figuring-out-how-to-live-with-a-brand-new-human stuff did. One day at a time.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Money and Career
15 interesting thoughts on this

About

Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post

Find:

Follow: