I was reading the lastest issue of Creating Keepsakes scrapbooking magazine last night (yay for happy mail waiting in the PO Box on a Friday afternoon lol) and there was a section of Layouts about being a mother.
When I started reading them I had mixed emotions - I went from sad to depressed to angry to jealous all in the space of 30 minutes or so. I was sad because most of the LO's featured were of stay-at-home mums.
At first this sadness was because of the fact that I am one of those mum who chose not to stay at home but returned to work on a part-time basis (average of 3 days per week to start off with for 18mnths) until eventually I started back full time last year. Reading these Lo's made me sad at first because it got me to thinking - what have I missed out on because I chose to go back to work instead of being at home?
Then I got all depressed thinking that in same way my choice has had a negative impact on my boys lives. What will happen in 10 years time if they turn around and say to me 'like you care, all you ever did when we were little was work'.
After the depression came anger - anger at myself, anger at the world, anger at society and the stereotypes that are still placed on gender roles - yes we have come a long way but I still don't think we have fully broken down the walls between all of the roles and lastly anger at just the situation. I chose to go back to work for a number of different reasons.
To be honest with you, I never had any intention of going back to work so soon after Mitchell was born but at the time I was in a very difficult situation. After being on contract at the one school for 3 years I was finally offered permanency at a school about 90kms from Dalby plus another 30km from where Tony worked and we lived (120kms in total). While it was great to be finally permanent, the school was located in an area that at the time was crippled by drought (and still is to a much lesser extent) which meant that there was very little possibility of Tony getting any work out there - not much call for Farm Managers during a drought. Anyway I took the job - I would have been an idiot to refuse to accept permanency as it would have been a blemish against me for a looooooooooooong time with Education Qld - and made the decision to live away from home during the week and return at weekends.
As fate would have it, I fell pregnant about 3 months into the new school year. When transfer time rolled around, I applied for a compassionate transfer back to Dalby and seriously thought given my circumstances that it would happen. Sadly it didn't. So I took extended leave knowing that one day I would have to face that horrible decision all over again only this time what would I do with Mitchell given there was no formal daycare facilities in the area and we were both reluctant to leave him with 'just anyone'.
When Mitch was 5 months old, I received a phone call from one of the Deputy Principals at Dalby SHS wanting to know if I would be interested in job-sharing with someone coming back from maternity leave. What a dilemma - here I am a new mum with a 5 month old and not really wanting to return to work but also knew that this would probably be my best chance of getting back into Dalby. I stressed about this decision for weeks - I didn't want to go back so soon but I knew I didn't want to return to the other school and be separated from Tony (and possibly Mitchell depending on what arrangements we made) each week. I was given a 100% verbal guarantee that if I took the job-sharing spot, I would be transferred that year.In the end, hearing that got me and I took the position working 2 days one week and 3 days the next. We found a place for Mitchell in an excellent daycare centre and he loved it right from the start.
Unfortunately government departments don't always live up to their promises and I was not transferred as promised - more political game playing that went over my head.
So once again I was stuck - working on contract at one school while still being attached to the 'permanent school'. By this time I had made up my mind that I would rather resign than return to the school where I was considered 'permanent' - I didn't want to drive 240kms just to get to and from work each day. Fair enough people might do that in the city each day but trust me, country driving is a completely different story, especially when you add kangaroos, emus and wild pigs into the mix. Luckily my contract was extended for the following year but fate intervened again and I was pregnant for the second time. I applied for a transfer once again and was assured that my circumstances would all but give me the much-wanted transfer.
It didn't so again I was faced with some tough decisions. I accepted another contract at Dalby SHS, just hoping to keep my foot in the door so that one day they might just give up and transfer me. In the end it took until 2007 for my transfer to officially come through.
So why bother working if it was all that difficult some of you might ask? Well to be honest I suffered from Post-Natal Depression (as well as ongoing issues since about the age of 15) and I didn't cope very well at all. To this day I struggle with my 'issues' but for me work has been the one thing that has kept me centred and grounded while everything else around me was crumbling. When I was at home I was moody and angry and there were days I was scared that I could have hurt the boys. I know deep down that I wouldn't have but it was always a subconscious fear that I would. Going back to work made me a better mum - I was happier, the boys were happier. The time we spent together was QUALITY - we did things together, I didn't shut myself away from them because I couldn't cope with them. We laughed, we played, we read stories, we sat in the sun, we played in the sandpit - WE DID STUFF. Before I went back to work, we did very little of that becuase I couldn't - there were days that Tony had to stay home from work to make sure the boys were fed and changed becuase I couldn't make myself get out of bed - what sort of mother did that make me? What sort of mother could do that to their child or children? I hated myself but at the time I couldn't and didn't admit to my problems, I kept them all bottled up most of the time and pretended that everything was ok becuase I didn't want to be seen as a failure or more importantly, a bad mother.
This is where the jealousy set in - why can't I be one of those mums who is happy to stay at home. Why couldn't I cope? Why couldn't I be content? Why couldn't that be enough for me? Why can't I ever feel happy about the decisions I have made instead of questioning them at every other turn. Why can't I accept that this is the way I am and the way I always will be and that if it works for my, what is the problem with it? Why can't I stop questioning???
Why is it so hard to find the answer?