Before Monkey came along I worked in Export, either admin, shipping or business development. Over twenty years I’d covered pretty much every aspect of Export, dealt with companies all over the world and sold anything from fire alarms and emergency lighting, to soap and perfumes, right through to plastic parts. In general, I loved it, I loved learning about different cultures, meeting people and building relationships. But then Monkey arrived, my focus changed. With the hours that Daddy P works, travelling abroad was never going to be an option for me. So it’s been six years since I walked away from full time work.
This morning a Facebook memory sprung up telling me that six years ago today, I drove to my employers and told them I wouldn’t be returning from maternity leave. When Monkey was born, I was determined I’d take my full year of maternity leave to be with him. I did think that by the end of it I’d probably want to return to work. I’d always been very much focused on work and I couldn’t envisage that changing. But then I had no real concept of how my son would change my life.
As long time readers of the blog know, we lost Daddy P’s father four months before Monkey was born. He knew he was going to be a grandfather for the fifth time, he’d seen the baby scans, but sadly he passed away before our wedding and before the birth of his youngest grandson. Monkey is named after him, and he’s with us every day.
I really owe the fact that it’s been six years since I walked away from full time work to Daddy P’s father. In his passing, it gave us a bit more financial freedom, the opportunity to consider losing my income. Monkey’s grandfather may never have got to meet him, but he gave him a truly special gift. He gave Monkey the chance to have his Mum at home, every day, all day. Although we’d have all much preferred him to have seen Monkey and be with us, he left us with the ability for me to be here, at home, not working, just being Mum. I will be forever grateful for that.
In the six years since I walked away from full time work I’ve never regretted that decision. Even through the teething, potty training and challenging times, I’ve always been glad to be here. I know I’m lucky to have been able to be. I admire any working parent, because, I just don’t know how they juggle it all.
Monkey has no concept that most Mummy’s have to go to work, and leave their children with family members, child minders and after school clubs. We’ve talked about it, but you can see he really doesn’t grasp it. There’s an event on at school, I can be there. Dates get changed at the last minute, I can be there. Helping out at school and on school trips, I can be there. I know how lucky I am to be able to do all of that. I know. Monkey expects it, I’m not always sure that that’s such a good thing!
I’d be lying if I said I’d loved every minute of walking away from work. Sometimes it’s been really hard. Really hard. Daddy P is rare around, my parents are in Spain. It’s been lonely, all-consuming. At times I’ve really lost me, Mary, the woman who could sort out budgets, seal deals and talk with anyone and feel confident in my abilities.
When you stay at home and your child starts nursery and then moves on to school, your purpose changes and I know I felt lost for some time. I was so glad to have the blog by then. Something else to focus on, something to call my own.
Having the blog gives me the flexibility to still always be there when needed at a drop of a hat. It gives us the opportunity to try lots of different things, explore and actually record those moments in words, with pictures. It’s a living memory box. It given me a voice, a purpose.
Going back to full time work? I do think about it, and then I think about school holidays, half terms, rushing like a loony (even more so) to get out the door on time in the morning, not feeding my son his tea, not eating with him (which we always do), having to spend weekends doing domestic chores. I stop, look at Monkey, and just know I can’t do it. Not for all the tea in China.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have the spare money to change the rotten windows, replace the threadbare carpets and knock out our hideous fireplace. Travelling the world, I do miss that. Going back to full time work would mean that would all be possible, easily. But in my heart those things just aren’t as important as being here. Does it mean I’m a domestic goddess, sadly not, much to Daddy P’s dismay.
Six years since I walked away from full time work has passed in a flash. Arguments over air conditioning, coffee keys and office dramas still seem like yesterday. This time six years ago I was looking forward to Monkey’s first birthday. We’d had his first teeth, he was a good eater (oh yes I remember those days) and a good sleeper. I had no idea about blogging then. I had no idea, no plan for the future. I just knew I couldn’t leave him with someone and go to work. I knew that for me, it was the end of an era. Probably the end of a career. But as I got back in my car, after seeing my boss, I knew I’d made the right decision for me right then, right there. I’m lucky, that six years on I feel exactly the same way.
Will I still be at home six years from now? Who knows. By then Monkey will be fast approaching his thirteenth birthday, a teenager, I’ll be in my mid fifties (god how flipping old am I!!!???). His needs of me and my time will have changed again. My needs will probably have changed too. We will see. Time will tell. But for now, this is where I’ll be. Home.