There are a number of reasons why a parent will feel either pressure or desire to return to work after having a child. For some, being a stay at home parent is simply not financially viable, and others may prefer to continue with their career, or find that spending time (away from children) with adults in a working environment is vital for their own sanity and emotional wellbeing!
When I was pregnant I told my boss to expect me back at work within six months of Harry being born. She repeatedly told me that I might feel different about things after he was born, and that I shouldn’t be hasty with setting a return date. With the complications and health concerns surrounding Harry’s first few months of life, returning to work was the last thing on my mind. But once things settled down, and as the months passed, I began to miss my “old life”.
I knew prior to having a baby that a child means big changes, but what I didn’t realise was I would feel like I had little or no control over so many aspects of my life, and how lonely and unappreciated I would feel. I missed my job – well, perhaps I didn’t miss going to work as such, but I missed the interaction with real people, and the satisfaction of problem solving, meeting deadlines, and being told I’d done a great job. My job had made me feel like I was a truly valued and appreciated team member.
Harry kept me busy, and I loved seeing him improve and feeling like our hard work was paying off, but I would often have a strong yearning to return to work. I wanted to feel important. I wanted to have someone appreciate me. So, I applied for a job. The position was working two days a week, and was very flexible. It was the PERFECT job. I went for the interview, and all went well. The following weekend we had a family trip away at a resort hotel. While in the pool with Harry, he had a seizure. He had been sitting in about two inches of water, and he “dropped”. His face landed in the water, and there and then I decided I was being selfish to even consider working, and there was no way I could go back to work and put Harry in childcare. Harry has epilepsy, and at that stage had been having myoclonic and drop seizures. Seeing Harry face plant into the water made me realise I didn’t want to be away from my son, and I certainly didn’t want him in a class of 20 other kids where a seizure might not be noticed by a staff member. The next week I was offered the job – which I declined.
A few months later, after Harry’s epilepsy was under control, I once again felt the urge to return to work. I applied for another job. A month later I figured I must have not been shortlisted as I had not heard back. I began to think it was a good thing, and when I was notified I had been shortlisted for an interview I was almost disappointed. Harry had been really improving – he’d learnt a number of signs (sign language) and was really thriving. I realised if he was put in childcare so I could work he wouldn’t be taught new signs and wouldn’t practise them all day. The teachers and other kids wouldn’t facilitate his needs. It finally started to click and I realised just how important I was to Harry (other than just for regular “mummy duties”, and I learnt to appreciate myself for my hard work – without needing someone else to “stroke my ego” (although it is still nice to occasionally hear positive comments). I realised that I liked the “idea” of working, not the reality. I also realised that soon Harry will be ready for kindy, and then school. I am not ready to let him go just yet – I certainly don’t want to have days not spent with Harry when there is no need for it. Not yet.
I called and cancelled the interview. I won’t be applying for anymore jobs. I am extremely happy and fulfilled with the job I have.