Thank God it’s Friday. The first week back’s been that good.
A full time working mum back in the office after 11 months off – lots of people warned me it wouldn’t be easy and many have been lovely, including my work colleagues. But yeah, it’s been hard. My problem is I’m not sure if it’s been hard because I’m back at work after 11 months and am having to leave E or if it’s been hard because it’s a bad time for us all in the office at the moment. I’ve a feeling this is the main problem. Let’s examine shall we?
For a start, I had a crisis of confidence about my appearance. I looked at the clothes in my wardrobe and realised that they were the same ones I wore pre-pregnancy. And they were a couple of years old then. I’ve already blogged about the make up and feeling mumsy and dowdy. This feeling continued so I booked a haircut, a further make up session and bought some new clothes including new underwear. And a handbag. It felt like I’d been in a cave for a year and had been away from civilised society – I needed to do something to boost my self esteem.
And I was full of good resolutions. I was going to prepare the night before, make a cake to take in, pack my bag, do the ironing and finish several little tasks around the house to make it look tidier. I was going to be prepared, professional, organised, impressive even. In the event I spent much of Sunday being sick or sleeping and managed none of the above. But I couldn’t call in sick on my first day.
Dealing with E and getting to work on time is a challenge. On Tuesday she wasn’t feeling on top form and was quite clingy and tired and wanted cuddles and breastfeeding – I needed to catch a train. On Wednesday I had an upset stomach again (stress goes straight to my digestive system) and she overslept so we had to run to nursery to get her there in time for breakfast. I’ve now decided not to eat breakfast myself till I get to work to save time. I know this is the kind of thing all working parents do but I need to fine tune our routine for myself.
So I made it in to the office and caught up with 3,500 emails (no exaggeration). But beyond that, there’s a lot of concern and fear and that, coupled with a getting- back-in-the-swing-of-things mode, means it’s all a bit odd. And then I can smell another woman’s perfume on E’s hair when she comes home.
And to save on time I’ve also coughed up for a bus pass. I used to walk to work but it takes 50 minutes and I can leave work earlier to be with E if I don’t. But I miss the walk – the exercise was good and the time to be alone in my head was good.
And most annoyingly, if I want to leave the office at lunchtime and get away for a quick break from my desk, there’s nowhere to go that isn’t commercial. Except the library and they’re starting to stare at me now. There’s only so many times I can browse the same selection of books. There really should be some kind of public space where people can just be without trying to sell them something. A indoor park or square or something for when the weather’s rubbish. Why haven’t we reached that stage in civilised society yet?
I’m not complaining about the concept of being a working mother. I like working. I like projects, being busy, helping people, being out and about, thinking, writing and so on. But at the moment I’m not really doing that. Hopefully (fingers crossed, all being well) the interesting stuff will happen in a few months time. But for now we’re all waiting… And I resent having to pay to be away from E. And I resent the modern attitude to work. It’s so sad when you hear clips from 1960s interviews and people think that by the time we reached 2013 we’d all be using hoverboards and doing great things and working so hard would be a thing of the past. Technology would make things better and free us up for other things – leisure time, family, friends and so on. Instead we seem to be using technology as an escape from a desperately unequal society where wages are not adequate to cover childcare costs and rent and whatnot. (I know I shouldn’t complain about costs having just told you that I’ve spent money on a handbag this week (it was a cheap one) but still.) Ensuring that we share a good, more equal wage and work fewer hours to take time to enjoy other non-working things is clearly never going to happen under current conditions. But it sounds like a sensible idea to me. And the hoverboards.
E of course seems to be having a great time. The nursery are looking after her and sending me reports of what she’s done. Apart from her collywobbles when I leave she’s having a lovely time. Bless her. I stare at her picture on my desk for most of the day and yearn for her.
So what’s the verdict? It can only get better. I hope.