Work & Babies… It’s the same thing, they are not mutually exclusive. Babies are work it’s a known fact, but if you are adding paid employment into the equation, then to me it reads as ‘Babies; Work & Work’
Did you know that the 2011 census results show that 63% of mothers are employed, & 40% of those are employed before the child’s 1st birthday*. That means there are a LOT of us doing the double shift and every single caregiver and child is different, every single caregiver and child requires different things and they must each work out what their specific needs are, not what someone else thinks they are.
I recently returned to the workforce. My baby girl had just turned 1 and basically any savings we had were drying up faster than an Aussie creek in summer. Lets just say I was scared.. More accurately shit scared, & I’m lucky, I was only going back to the office one day a week (on the weekend when hubby is home) and the rest of the work I can do from home.
Personally I found returning to the workforce with a baby to be terrible and wonderful and painful and rejuvenating and liberating. There are so many ways to describe it I could go on for days. But first I had to find a job that fit. It had to fit around my home life, school, hubbys work hours & babysitting availability. Did I mention I had to find something I could actually do? I seriously thought that a job that ticked all my boxes wasn’t a reality. How could it be? And then I met Ming.
My first few weeks, the first few times I had to leave her ALONE at home with only my husband and 9 year old to look after her I was petrified. Yes they have been there every single day of her life, yes hubby has done it all before, yes they are capable persons who can problem solve and if necessary call 000, but they aren’t me. They can’t breastfeed, and they haven’t been with her 24/7 for 12months and they don’t know what she wants before she knows it.
Thankfully reality was different to my runaway imagination; She always misses me (I currently need to have my boobs out and ready for a feed as I walk through the door) but yes, they are capable. Miss 9 loves helping daddy look after her, and hubby is very capable, a great dad who doesn’t complain that she cried, or refused to eat or had an awesome poonami, I hear all of this from Miss 9.
Besides the heartache of not being with them, the pain from not feeding for 10hours & the stress of wondering what is going on while i’m not around, I love working again! I feel like an individual again. Motherhood is the hardest most undervalued job in all of society & I love doing it, and I also love having ‘me time’ and I am lucky enough to be able to work for a company that is understanding and flexible. I am lucky enough to come from from working all day and I feel refreshed, I’m happy to see everyone & if i’m really lucky dinner is ready.
Unfortunately this isn’t reality for most. Mums are secret superheros, we all know the work they do but no one acknowledges it. They wake at the crack of dawn to the kids, get ready for work/school, do the round of dropoffs to school/caregivers & then rush to work where they work hard all day only to come home and start work again & finally crash tired out of their brain only to be woken by tears/wet beds/cuddles throughout the night.
There are few of us that have the luxury of a flexible office/home work life, few of us have a boss as awesome as mine, and some even have the support available for childcare but the reality is most do not. Is this acceptable?
I love my work life balance, and I look forward to more work scheduled around my family time. But what i’d love even more is for EVERY single parent & caregiver to have the same opportunity I have. I know it won’t happen soon, but with the explosion of startups and small businesses it is a step in the right direction and I hope that by the time my girls have jobs and families that they too have the best of both worlds.
To all of the secret superheros don’t forget you ARE superheros! Just because you don’t wear your undies on the outside (not intentionally at least) doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the title! Stay at home parents, parents who receive paid work and all caregivers, YOU ARE A SUPERHERO be proud! You do an amazing job juggling all life throws at you, all I can say is If you can find a ball to add to your juggling pile that brings you a little extra joy and happiness, then try and make it fit, it’s worth it.