Woo Hoo just dropped my little girl off at high school for the first time – at last!
I’ve been a working mum for what seems like an eternity. In fact its only 15 years, but its definitely taken its toll. I had my first child when I was 23 and through necessity rather than desire, retuned to work when he was just 12 weeks old.
There was none of this “take 12 months off if you feel like and we will keep your job open” malarkey 15 years ago. Even if that had been an option, I simply couldn’t afford to stay at home. I had a brand new baby, a brand new mortgage and a brand new car to pay for. My first day back at work was emotional and stressful. It was not helped by the fact that come 5.30pm I was so eager to get home that I reversed said brand new car into a tree.
I went on to have a second child and again the return to work was quick but no less painless. I spent the next 11 years on some sort of children vs. work merry-go-round. While I had great support from my family who offered regular days for childcare; managing the dressing, feeding, dropping one child off here and the other off there was a logistical nightmare. I wasn’t a single mother, and it wasn’t that Dad wasn’t supportive. Well I guess he did what he thought was his fair share. His brain just didn’t work in the same way as mine. There was no way he was capable of putting in the level planning and logistics required. Perhaps it’s no accident that I am now an Operations Director.
Still, compared to some parents I was extremely lucky. However the focus and commitment I wanted to give to my career was hard to muster despite the reason I wanted a career was to benefit the children. Round and round it went. And it was relentless.
This month I waived my youngest off as she trotted through the gates of high school for the first time. I offered to drop her off for the first few days until she settled in and for her Grandmother to collect her. However she returned from her first day announcing that she would prefer to get the bus to and from school with her older brother, starting tomorrow. I wasn’t arguing.
I thought I would feel emotional about the whole thing. It was now the start of her teenage years and my little girl would be gone in a flash. But secretly I felt relief. I could now get up for work and walk out of the front door to my car, on my own, and drive straight to work without the 30mile round trip of drop offs. There would be no screaming “I’m not leaving until you have brushed your teeth” or “you should have packed your PE kit last night – why are we looking for it now?” or praying that the traffic would be kind to me as I was already ten minutes late.
I’m aware that for the parents who are lucky enough to stay at home or work part-time, or have a stay at home partner, I may come across as being without my maternal instincts or even callous. But the working parents who struggle daily to get themselves and their children (plus luggage) from A to B, and then to C & D and back again without losing it will know exactly where I am coming from.
I witnessed the usual first day at school photos that my peers had posted on social media of their offspring and while I did join in, I was tempted to post a selfie of me arriving at work, early, brandishing a cappuccino I had been able to stop off for on the way. Bliss!