I’m back to work today, which sounds a bit odd as between my ‘maternity leave’ of Jan to June, I have; helped set up & run auditions for a Summer tour, worked on said Summer tour, assisted in rehearsals for said Summer tour, continued the admin for our family company, fulfilled secretarial duties for the Stage Combat organisation I work for, and had various meetings for my return to work! Taking care of two children under two is a full time job in itself so it’s not exactly been the quietest of maternity leaves!
However, a lot of the above roles I can do at 3.30am while feeding the baby, or at least keep on top of on my phone while I see Justin pop up on every kids show ever made (seriously…it’s not like there’s a shortage of actors!). I will now have an additional 15-25 hours that are slightly more structured, hours I will have to work personal things around rather than being able to do them when most convenient.
Most of all it seems like the end of an era. My husband and I decided to have a small age gap between our children so that I took time off over one bigger stage rather than interrupting work twice. It meant that we’d ‘allotted’ ourselves a few years for ‘having babies’! We were lucky that it worked out as planned, I know that for thousands of couples it’s not the case. And it’s been a really hard few years. Really hard. We underestimated and we were pretty prepared! We had no idea my epilepsy would come back, we had no idea my kidneys would get so close to failing completely and the sleepless nights combined with our hectic lifestyle meant that we were burning the candle at both ends and then lighting matches aimed at the middle as well! We’ve worked out that in total, we spent over £600 on hospital car park fees within a 4 month period (one of our more depressing maths sessions..!) and I spent a total of 40 days in hospital. It has been, without a doubt, the hardest time of our lives. We have cried together, laughed together, and at times we thought we were going to be mourning together. But between December 2013 and June 2016, our main focus has been beginning our family and dealing with all that came with it. And on July 1st 2014, and then again on March 19th 2016, we had two of the happiest days of our lives when we welcomed our two beautiful baby girls into the world.
Holly is only three months old, but the act of going back to work makes it feel like the end of that particular section of our lives. It will not by any means that life will be easy from here on it, on the contrary, we now have two young kids!! And then they’ll grow and become teenagers! And then they’ll be adults and we’ll have to hope we did the best job we could so they can go off and have lives of their own *gulp* excuse me while I swallow back tears!
I can so clearly remember a conversation with my husband in December 2014 when we were staying at his Mum and Dads house because we didn’t have our own place, and we had NO idea what it meant to be parents. We were sat on the bottom bunk (seriously, we really did not have our crap together) and we were looking down at this blotch that looked like a weather report (that we were assured was our soon to be child!) eyes wide. We held each other’s hand and said ‘let’s do this’! And it genuinely feels as if we’re still gripping each other’s hand tight and that after today, we’ve come to the end of that stage. The brand new/creating life/meeting a new member of the family stage. I wouldn’t want to go back in time, I’m excited for the times to come. But I do envy those who have those times still to experience. To those thinking of embarking on it, know this, there is NO perfect time, it will be the hardest and most emotional time of your life and you will question yourself at least twenty times a day. The only thing you can be sure of is that you don’t know what you’re doing, and I suspect never will again!
If I sound dramatic it’s because it is, a dramatic, traumatic, emotional and ridiculous time. That time for us continues but today we poke our head above the barricade. We return fully to the life we had before children but with two tiny humans in tow.
Until both my children are at school, our plan is that I will not work at my main job full time. Truth is, with everything else I have on, I don’t have enough hours in the day to go full time anyway. But my main role is no longer ‘new Mum’. It’s exciting, but sad. It’s terrifying, but rewarding. I left behind part of the real world in December 2013, and I’m now heading back to it! Every Mum feels the same. Even stay at home Mums experience that ‘coming up for air’ moment when you get glimpses of life before delving head first into have a child.
I’ve had some lovely messages, and even some cards from people, mainly other Mums who get that it’s a big deal for me. My husband and I have a bottle of red wine with our names on it ready for this evening (although as he had emergency dental work this afternoon, probably just the half glass of red will suffice for him!!).
We’re going to toast me going back to work, but more importantly we’re going to toast those two young people in their late twenties, holding hands on that bunk bed who made it. We sit here almost three years later in our own house, which we love, with two healthy, happy children…still not with our crap together but at least now we understand that’s how it works!! I’d love to be able to go back in time and give those two people a cuddle, a quick wink and a ‘you’re going to do fine!’ But I can’t, but I CAN give the same to anyone about to embark on the same journey, or thinking about it, or finding themselves on that path without necessarily meaning to head that way. Even if you’re doing it alone, with a partner or with an entire village worth of people helping, you’ll get through amazingly in a way only you could.
It will be a while before you come back to the real world, that’s what becoming a parent does for you. And it will be unimaginably difficult at times. But you WILL be fine, you’ll do great and although it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, it absolutely IS all worth it! I’m at the end of my era, and I’ll be sad to see it go, I’ll cherish the memories and enjoy making a scrapbook with all the millions of our ‘behind the scenes’ photos that we’ve kept for ourselves.
I’m back to work and best of all, not at all ready for what’s next!