Before Master S came along, I stuck it out in an environment that diminished all of the self-confidence I had built up over the years of coming out and living as a gay woman.
“Happiness doesn’t pay the bills,” was my mantra as I worked to burnout, from the discomfort of the closet I’d worked so hard to come out of years earlier.
I saved almost every cent, desperate for the privilege afforded to few in this modern world, the opportunity to be a full-time stay-at-home Mum.
I eventually moved on, with the view to achieving a better work-life balance as I approached parenthood. It turned out to be an excellent choice, and I started to really enjoy my career.
After S was born, I was so excited to do Baby Rhyme Time, playgroup, and trips to the park.
It wasn’t until about five months in that I started to feel an intense boredom, restlessness, and loneliness that I couldn’t seem to fix.
Playgroups I tried in my local area seemed to be populated by nannies and hired help, or Mums who wanted to complain about their husbands in a communal echo-chamber.
Holy shit, it was depressing. And after awhile, something had to give.
So I went back to work.
Just two days a week, and only on a casual basis. The first day I dropped him off, I couldn’t believe how free I felt. I also noticed how much more effective I was in the classroom with organising instructional time and managing difficult behaviour.
When you’ve left your baby in daycare to work, you really do mean business when you get into your flow state.
When I picked him up after a day in the classroom, I had missed him, but I could see how much he was getting out of the extra socialisation and time out of the house. I was actually benefiting from the insignificant things I had taken for granted, like lunchtime banter with other adults.
I felt like a human again.
I refuse to buy into the outdated notion that a child needs their Mum home 100% of the time in order to grow up healthy and well-adjusted. It suits some people and benefits some families, but it’s not for everyone.
To the contrary, I think a little bit of space in the early years can deliver amazing benefits for a developing child, if it means the Mum is happier.
Not every mother is cut out for the full-time, stay-at-home Mum life, and that’s okay.
It’s high time we stopped assuming that what suits one family or individual is automatically going to suit another. It takes all sorts to make up this weird and wonderful world we live in.