One word which I would use to describe myself is independent. I was a single mother from 1992 when my eldest son was 1 year old until I re-married in 2005. Times were often tough but I raised my children without a husband. I was a responsible employee and I owned my own home. I took pride in fending for myself. My work position was not high powered but I did my job and did it well. When my eldest son Heath was 6 weeks old my husband left me for the first time (leaving permanently about 6 months later). I did not have a permanent job and went to a temp job leaking milk and leaving my new baby at home with my Mum. Back then I was fortunate in that my Mum was a huge support. She took care of my children until they went to preschool and when they started school she was always available in the afternoons and during school holidays.
By the time I remarried in 2005 I had moved 500km from my family and Heath had moved in with his father. My daughter Domi was in high school. In the afternoons she went home to an empty flat and during the school holidays she caught a bus to stay with my family. During their school years I only remember taking time off once to watch a swimming gala.
In the corporate world it is extremely difficult to take time off, apart from work pressure there was an unspoken criticism, it was just not the done thing. Those who get to work at starting time and knock off at official finish time are frowned upon. No matter if you are highly efficient and do the work of 4 people working standard hours you don’t climb the rungs. I’m quite sure that some who ‘worked’ long hours sat faffing in their empty office just for the clock card to look good.
My new husband and I decided that we wanted to have a child and after a trying year of TTC (Trying to conceive) I fell pregnant. I was 39 when Fjord was born and I took 6 months maternity leave then returned to work but soon decided that I really wanted to be at home with him, I did not want a creche carer to be the one to see him take his first steps and I wanted to be there for him. I worked for 4 months and then quit.
It was a hard decision to give up my financial independence but so worth it. Now and then when the house is in chaos and children are being trying I toy with the thought of going back to work but then think how hard it would be for them. What would I do if they were sick? I would hate for them to spend school holidays in a day care. Having 2 salaries we were wonderfully flush but the financial sacrifice is small in relation to what I and the children gain. I really wish that I could have done this for my elder children.
I cannot be sanctimonious about giving up my independence and salary to be with my children as I don’t know what it would have been like if I had a career more in line with my passions and interests. As I do not judge those who choose to work I would appreciate not being judged for being a stay at home Mum. Some seem to think that I spend my days going for pedicures (can’t remember when last I had one) or going to yoga etc. I have virtually no time for myself until the children go to bed and then I’m usually cleaning the kitchen or doing laundry. The last time I had a haircut a year ago Acacia was sitting wriggling on my lap.
Some days I can feel my brain petrifying but for now this is the season to be where I am and do what I am doing.