I have been having a tough few weeks (months? Could it be months?) at work. Fridays off with the boy are easily the highlight of my week. The relief I feel as I leave the office on Thursday is physical and immense. I crave more than just that one day pottering around the house together, giggling and singing and building elaborate train tracks.
Day one at home with snot dragon was delightful. He was placid and cuddly and I started dreaming of a different life. I could do this: I could find a job where I worked from home for a couple of days a week, and then have the boy for the other days. Dabble enough in the workplace to keep my mind active, but mainly just be at home with my lovely toddler.
At the end of day four of our self-imposed house arrest I wanted to chew off my own face. My little man stared at me sullenly and silently across the bubbles as I bathed him in silence. Electronic parenting to make up for the sleep deprivation had worn off. His bedtime screams when I left him in his cot were brief and token: he was clearly as pleased that I left as I was to be out of there.
I know this is not typical. I know that I would build up a bigger team of mum friends, find the playgroups, get out of the house each day. But I also remember the isolation of maternity leave. The days where I would realise I’d forgotten to talk for half an hour, and we’d just sat in silence. Where I would speak to the mailman, the neighbours, the mum that I’d met once in passing but decided I would pretend was my friend.
Working some of the time suits me. It really suits me. I am a great mum in the mornings, the evenings, for our three day weekend. I am mediocre at best when I do it all the time. If I stop to think about what that says about me, about my suitability to be a mum, there is a black hole inside me that threatens everything; but if I work, I’m too busy to look at it and itch at it and make it grow.
It is not the working that is the problem; it is the job.