Monday 4 March 2013

Staying Home With Ebony

Today should be my first day back at work after maternity leave. I should have woken up really early today, dressed Ebony and myself, and organised breakfast. I should have kissed her goodbye before handing her over to her Nanny and Papa for her first full day away from me, and then I should have started my (hideous) commute to work.

I should have, but I didn’t. Because a few weeks ago, I decided not to return to work. I can honestly say, it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I loved my job, I can’t even write that in the past tense without feeling a bit sick. I’ve spoken to lots of Mums who didn’t want to return to work after having their first baby, but most of them didn’t speak fondly about their jobs. I raved about mine.

Choosing not to return was time consuming. I spent a long time toing and froing in my head. Maybe everyone was right, I would just get used to being apart from Ebony, and she would get used to being apart from me. But did I really want her to have to get used to it? Couldn’t I give her the luxury of waiting until she was old enough to understand that I’d be back, before I left her for the day?

I think it’s seen as quite unusual that I haven’t really left Ebony for very long yet. The longest I’ve managed was three and a half hours, and that was when her Dad was looking after her close by. I haven’t left her with anyone else for longer than 90 minutes. But that’s fine, because that’s how I want it. This way, she knows I’m always close by. My work wasn’t close by, it was about an hour and a half’s commute away and this definitely had a big part in helping me reach my decision. If something were to happen, anything, even Ebony being a bit sick and wanting me, I would always be an hour and a half away, and that just sounds awful.

The field I work in is very South-centric, so I was lucky to find a North-based campaigning job, and the prospect of giving that up seemed quite ridiculous. It’s very unlikely I’d ever be able to find a similar job near to where I live. While trying to decide whether to return to work, it kind of felt like I’d be turning my back on my career for life, and that made the whole thing even more complicated. Would I be happy in a few year’s time if I was working in a menial job, or working for profit rather than passion? Probably not.

Would I resent Ebony in the future, as so many stay at home parents seem to, just a little bit? Would I look back on this decision with regret in the future?

I spoke to everybody about it. Friends, family, my husband, the rabbits... The rabbits didn’t seem bothered either way. But my husband pointed out that there is no way to know if I’ll regret it in the future. All I can do, is base my decision on what I know now, and what I know now is that I don’t want to leave Ebony.

A wise man, my husband. He eased my worry, and his words convinced me that he was happy for me to stay home. Although my lowly charity wage didn’t really contribute much to the household income, we will notice it now it’s gone. 

And so a decision was made. I told work who were, as always, kind and understanding. Suddenly it was very real.
I still sometimes feel a wave of panic wash over me and find myself wondering if I’ve made the wrong decision. This is usually either when I find out about something amazing my old charity are working on and feel jealous I won’t be a part of, or it’s when Ebony projectile vomits into my hair. In those moments, I think it’s ok to question my decision, because deep down I know I’ve made the right one.

I would love to find my way back to my career path in the future, but for now I’m happy meandering along with Ebony. The weather is starting to pick up, and I’m looking forward to taking lots of country walks with Ebony. She is already developing into a real person with a strong personality, and I know this will accelerate in the coming months and am just really glad it will be me guiding her through that process.


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