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Aug 12 / Caro

Back to Work: Back to the Old Life?

It seems odd to be thinking about returning to work before I’ve even started my maternity leave or had the baby. It needed some consideration though as I wanted to make arrangements with my workplace for when I wanted to return and for what hours. The more notice I give them, the more easily they will be able to accommodate me.

I considered not returning at all, and being a stay at home mum. There is a lot of appeal in doing that. My own mum didn’t work when I was small, and I have very fond memories of my early childhood and time spent at home. But there is nothing to say my memories wouldn’t have been equally as fond if she had worked part time. We could manage financially if I didn’t work, although obviously losing my income would have an impact on our lifestyle and we would have to be more restrictive with our spending. The main reason I want to go back though is to keep my hand in. Even if I gave up work for motherhood, I’d want to go back at some stage, and it can be hard enough picking up a drill after a three week holiday. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to get back in to dentistry after a long career break. I’m also lucky that I have a very convenient workplace and I’m keen to be able to stay there for the long term.

There is another factor though, which I hadn’t really considered closely until a conversation this week. I was discussing how much I was looking forward to motherhood with a friend and also joking about how much I was looking forward to not having to go to work for a while (whilst acknowledging that motherhood is a different kind of job). Disappointingly she poured scorn on my excitement, despite not being a mother herself. She recounted tales of friends and relatives who had been driven crazy by motherhood and the lack of grown up contact and intellectual stimulation. Even when I said I was looking forward to attending baby groups and things like Rhyme Time at the library, she scoffed that those things could build up to be expensive. She told me about friends who’d been desperate to get back to work again. Motherhood, she explained, could be unfulfilling on its own.

In a way, she was supporting my feeling of wanting to return to work. I want to maintain my career, and enjoy the challenges it involves. I think part time working will provide some balance in my life, which ultimately could make me a better mother. But what she said made me consider for the first time that I might not enjoy motherhood. Although I plan to get out and meet other mums and attend baby groups (despite the costs – and many are free!) and although I think I will find it a different type of challenge to anything I’ve faced before, I could be utterly bored by it. Or just simply hate it. I could be lonely and isolated and struggle with keeping a baby capable of limited interaction occupied. The routine might seem unbearably mundane compared to the variety of my working life. I might simply long to get away for some peace and quiet.

It is perfectly possible that I’ll be gagging to return to work because I dislike being a mum.

I feel Flangelina moving around in there and my heart swells with love and excitement. I can’t wait to meet him or her. When I think of disliking motherhood, my heart feels crushed. I can’t bear the thought that once they are here I might crave for my old lifestyle. But I don’t think the fact that I hate the thought of it will prevent it from happening.

It’s the scariest thought about motherhood yet.

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