I write this for you at 38 weeks pregnant and ‘officially’ on maternity leave from my therapy business. It’s a limited company but I’m the sole worker – so in theory, while I’m not seeing clients the company (and me!) isn’t making any money. I still have rent to pay and I’m secretly (though I know completely unnecessarily) shit scared of having to build my client list back up again. Intentionally, I haven’t taken on new clients since October and as I work with a lot of people with anxiety, them knowing I’m not going to be there has created my busiest last few months ever!
I love my job and I won’t stop working for my children.
I’m seeing clients tomorrow. (My husband threatened to divorce me if I don’t start to rest. I think he was joking – he knew who I was when he married me!) I’m also tired. And I feel like a beached whale. I have to hoist myself out of a chair. I wee when I sneeze/cough/laugh/catch my 2-year-old as he dives on me pretending to be a monster. It’s getting less fun! I’m in a weird state where I’m literally denying myself maternity leave because I love my job and I love my clients. However, when I was pregnant with Charley I took maternity leave from about 32 weeks, and man did I love it. Shopping, coffee, the excitement of decorating a nursery and washing a zillion teeny vests. It’s SO different this time. I haven’t got my hospital bag packed. I’ve not even really thought about how imminent the birth is. It’s easy for me to recognise that I’m avoiding doing this as I can’t plan!
That’s my problem in a nutshell.
Now I know with your first baby you can’t plan either – but you don’t have to think about where your toddler is going to be when you go into labour. Who is going to look after them as that depends on the time/day/place that you go into labour? What will happen if there are complications? The fact that I don’t want my hubby to leave me alone in the hospital, but that I’ll want him to go and look after Charley, as it guts me in case he thinks I’ve abandoned him for the new baby. All this shit going round and round in my head – that I can’t fix, or plan for or even loosely have covered. I’m living in a lovely bubble of denial, where if I keep going to work and being busy this will somehow delay baby Finn from making an appearance. Even as I write this I’m laughing at myself.
What would I say to a client?
I know exactly what I’d say. I’d say “what the fuck? Why on earth aren’t you kicking back and enjoying your maternity leave?” My answer is screaming at me inside my head. I’m scared!!! Scared of losing my brain. Terrified of being bored. Worried that I don’t love being with Charley 24/7 and that Mon/Wed/Fri when he goes to nursery and I go to work are my favourite days. Absolutely petrified that I’ll HAVE to be with Finn 24/7 and that I’ll hate my life for a while. I hated most of my first year with Charley. Not because I disliked him. I realise I’m not good with neediness, and babies are bloody needy and clingy and can’t be expected to be any other way.
So why the hell are we having another? For Charley? Yes, partly. I’m absolutely thrilled we’re giving him a brother. For me? Definitely. The overwhelming love I have when I’m snuggled on his bed reading The Gruffalo for the fourteenth time, or the pride I have in myself as a mum when I find requested the bloody mini graffiti Luke from the drawer full of 5000 mini Thomas the Tank Engine trains is amazing. Those weird moments when you’re smashing being a parent. When I know and understand everything that my child is talking about when even his dad or nan might not. Those moments are why I’m doing it all again.
But that doesn’t mean I enjoy a lot of it.
In the beginning, I didn’t enjoy the majority of it. Some days I still don’t (like last Saturday when we took him to Eureka and he spent most of the day sobbing on the floor, for no fucking reason) but most days now he makes me belly laugh (of course I wee myself but hey!) I’m aware my life over the next year is going to be rough. And I can’t plan, or even really prepare in any way. But having two boys that I see are happy, bright, kind children – that’s why we’re doing this. Bringing children into the world to hopefully grow up and make it a better place, in whatever way they can and choose to. Having me stay at home, resentful and bored wouldn’t help them. So I’ll be going back to work when I can. I’ll be working while Finn is fast asleep strapped to my chest. I’ll be feeling zero guilt about this. Because it makes me enjoy them more. It makes me happier and therefore a way better mum.
Lots of people will disagree with me – and that’s cool.
I sometimes envy my friends that want to stay home with their children, and that choose to. We’re really fortunate and I could stay home if I wanted. But Play-doh and poster paint just exhaust me! I need to solve problems. I need to learn constantly and use my brain. My drive is often relentless and exhausting – but in a way that makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. My son happily goes to bed garbling about his day at nursery, where he went on a bouncy castle and did a finger painting and sang songs and played a million things that he wouldn’t do if he was at home with me. He’s happy and confident and social. And so am I!
I’d love you to share your thoughts and feelings about this over on our FB page.