When maternity leave leaves you on the scrap heap

 

maternity leave cartoon humor: 'Good to see you back at work.'

After another glorious year of maternity leave it is that time again to start thinking about returning to work . I have written before about my frustrations with having to return to the bottom rung each and every time you have maternity leave (read it here-  New Year, New job and the Glass-Uterus Effect ) and I have conceded that this is just life, but it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.  Since having my eldest son 6 years ago I have always been all to aware of the need to maintain my teaching hours in order to stay up to date with changes in curriculum and methodology. For you teachers out there I am sure you would agree that a year is a long time in Education. As the school year comes to a close I ‘ve started to look at my options for next year and to be honest there aren’t many at all for a mum of three who is no longer a permanent employee who can’t face working full time.

If you are permanent then in most cases you are able to return to work in a jobshare/ part time capacity as the school/ principal is obliged to assist in your return to work where possible.  If you aren’t permanent then you are free agent, no one owes you a thing and it is up to you to start again from the bottom just to get some relief work. With this uncertainty comes having to commit to 3 days worth of childcare x 2  ‘just in case’ you get called in for a relief day on those specific days. If no work comes up then you are stuck paying $300 for nothing.

I have always loved my job. In the early years after graduating, single, childless me worked my bum off, volunteered countless hours and would attend the opening of an envelope in hopes of gaining a permanent position. It worked and after 3 years I was given permanent status. No more worrying about whether you had a job each December and if you were going to be paid in the holidays. Fast forward 12 years and a resignation after moving interstate and now I find myself competing with young girls with 2 years experience and hours to give for even the most graduate level positions.

It makes me angry, I feel like I’ve done my time- but what is the solution? Well that is to go back full time and start from the bottom again. It was my choice to have my three beautiful children, and as my husband points out, there are many childless women in leadership positions who would happily swap for my position as a mum. I agree with him. I also look at friends of mine who for various reasons have gone back to work full time with small babies and wonder if i could do it too.I did do it with my first son, and at the time it felt right. It wasn’t until after that it felt so wrong. Maybe I should have and I wouldn’t be sitting here with 12 years experience looking for jobs again. But then I look at my last baby girl (as she rips this laptop from my hands) and my stomach hurts thinking about leaving her with some one else every day. Before long she will be waving at me through the school gate and I’ll then have those hours to give again, just like  did 12 years ago.

I know what my heart says- but I still have this internal battle every school year as I see opportunities come and go.It would be much easier if I hated my job and could use that as an excuse not to return, as I am sure many mums who weren’t particularly keen on their careers pre-children do, but I don’t, I love it and couldn’t think of doing anything else.

I guess for now it is part time relief or bust! How did you feel about returning to work after maternity leave?

 

 

 

Boobies be gone …

 

  

Okay trying to stick with my idea about just getting on to post without thinking too much about it. I just had to write about the end of my love hate relationship with breastfeeding, which after 6 years appears to be coming to its conclusion. 

For the last two nights my last little baby girl has not wanted a breastfeed. She turns her head away and acts as if I’ve placed tuna mornay on my nipples!(FYI- tuna mornay is clearly hated and an offensive word in our household!) yes she is teething and feverish- so maybe she’ll be back tomorrow? But…..

I feel really sad, and I’m not sure why because to be honest I’ve never been one of those women who LOVED breastfeeding anyway. But I guess over the years I have come to ‘not hate it’ as much as I thought I would. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t been my choice? Maybe because I didn’t know it was our last time at 5 am through closed eyes as I stumbled to her room for our usual dawn ritual? 

I never thought I would feed in the first place. The thought of it made me feel a bit yuck. My mum didn’t breastfeed and to be honest, having not been around many babies until having my own- it didn’t seem to be the natural thing for me to do.

Looking back to having my first son 6 years ago, feeding was awful. He had an early tongue tie and had damaged me so badly that the sound of him crying for a feed made me shudder with dread- while instead I should’ve been happy he was awake. I hated it- and also hated how it continued to dictate what I did with my body after already being taken over for 9 months. If it hadn’t been for the fact my mother in law was a pro- breastfeeding midwife I would’ve chucked it in after 2 days. I persevered for 3 months- but my hormones were going nuts and I just needed to be on the pill where I seemed to return to ‘myself’afyerbsome months of struggling alone to adjust to my role as a new mum.Looking back it was a horrible time, and being a new mum I thought that’s how you were supposed to feel. 

Three years later with my second and breastfeeding came easy. I knew what I was doing and to be honest who could be bothered making bottles every 3 hours. So I fed Sammy until he no longer woke at night, which was 6 months. Yes – I now loved the ease of whipping it out !!

Fast forward to my beautiful baby Elsie. 8.5 months and I’m clinging on for dear life. Granted we are only down to feeding once a day- and yes partly through sheer laziness and knowing it was there and was easy. But there’s something about this last time…. Knowing that despite never being a gushy mother who bored everyone to tears telling them about ‘how connected’ breastfeeding made me feel, I am going to miss it just a little. Maybe it’s because this is the last time I’ll have a little baby. Now I move into being a mother of older kids, and as much as I know there are great times ahead- I’ll only realise how perfect these days were, when they are long behind me. 

Don’t get me wrong- I still can’t stand women who make vile passive aggressive judgements on bottle feeding mums, and I still shiver when people say, each to their own then follow up with statistic, facts and slogans such as ‘breast is best. A women’s mental health is just as important, and having a mother who is ‘alive and present’ is surely best? And to the women who go out of their way to create controversy by removing their entire dress over their heads when feeding in public and expect no one to look sideways – I certainly won’t miss being lumped as part of your gang. I managed to feed all of my kids in public without showing my underwear to strangers. And those who did get a look actually deserved a little peek for trying so hard !I wouldn’t show my nipples  strangers when not breastfeeding so certainly wouldn’t ‘PURPOSELY’ do it to prove a point  just because I was feeding my children. As natural as it is and should be- the female body has been sexualised, and until that changes indiscreet boobs out on the dinner plate will continue to cause a stir… And as I said, being half naked makes me personally feel uncomfortable! It is something that I   chose not to do. (I can already feel the wolves beginning to attack 😂…. Funny how bottle feeding mums don’t go out of their way to make breastfeeding mothers feel like shit??) 

But for a mum who never wanted to feed at all-I’m really glad that I fed all 3. So farewell my friend- we never saw nipple to nipple. But I bid you adieu. 

a little bit of mindfulness in between the madness 

  
I used to spend a fair bit of time drafting my posts – but 3 children down and I rarely find time to change toilet rolls these days so my new idea is to just scrap the planning and write… Mistakes and everything. Won’t make for the most exciting read you’ve ever had but who knows-Maybe I’ll begin managing more then 1 post a year again.

On Saturday I escaped my house, the kids and my husband and went to the beach. At first I couldn’t get out quick enough. After a months of no sleep, a busy husband and feeling very much like I was responsible for everything and everyone in our house  i needed to get away, if only for a couple of hours. I was exhausted and sat on the sand with coffee in hand. The sun was on my face and sound of the water was all I could hear, it had always been so calming for me. I sat quietly – wanting to enjoy every bit of the ‘no- fighting’ ‘no-crying’ ‘no – whinging’ that wasn’t going on. After an hour or so my desperate need to get away had dissolved into the sand beneath me and I was filled with intense gratitude. After a year of trying to force myself to be ‘mindful’ and to enjoy practicing ‘mindfulness- despite hating the voice of the silly man on the app that was recommended to me, it all suddenly clicked into place.

All it took was some time away, some mindfulness, to again appreciate what I have around me. 

Aside from taking the photo i was able to sit for 2 hours without looking at a screen. I’m starting to believe our need to have constant contact with our phones and a life that isn’t ours or isn’t lived out in front of us maybe the catalyst for us all feeling the need to lead ‘better lives’ to eat ‘better food’, that being a mum and beingaverage isn’t  enough. When since should you feel like a lazy ass because you’re not running a ‘mummy business?… I’m flat out just trying to keep the children alive let alone sewing vintage bibs and screen printing owls onto organic monochrome jumpsuits in the 2 spare minutes I have for the day. 
I took this picture to remind me of this feeling next time I feel like escaping….to remind me to turn it all off and to just face the sun and enjoy being average. 

Really, It’s not that hard… 

  
Since having Elsie I’ve missed about a million phone calls, forgot to push send on 100’s of texts and have been down right shit at getting in touch with friends. Actually why lie… It isn’t since Elsie, it isn’t even since Sammy, and yes there’s probably even some incredible evidence they I did this even before having kids! 
We’ve all been there… The phone rings, your hands are full and you think to yourself ‘shit…will have to call them back, have so much to say that this spare 3 seconds won’t be enough time so I’ll call back when the kids are in bed’. Problem is by the time the kids are in bed, dinner dishes are done, you’ve finished trying to think of exciting things to put in the school lunchbox ( decide you’re going to put sultanas in knowing full well your child doesn’t eat them but it looks good if the teacher has a nosey) it’s 8pm and you’ve jumped into bed. You go to put your phone on charge and while you do, get distracted by stalking Instagram accounts of perfect strangers hashtagging cool things such as #tbt and #bbg . You’re not cool enough to know what they mean so have to google #tbt and #bbg, within half hour you’ve decided that ‘mumtobikini’ is so inspirational you’ll need to follow her and 19 of her friends. Before you know it, it’s 10pm and you should be sleeping, knowing the newborn will be awake in an hour or so- and all you’ve achieved Is gaining 20 new virtual friends, some contemporary knowledge of hash tagging and a sore wrist from scrolling. You’ve decided it’s now too late to call your friends back but and tell yourself ‘ I’ll call them tomorrow. But no you won’t And so the cycle begins again. 
Today I decided to start calling people back. I’m ashamed to say one friends son was now nearly 2, and I swear he was a newborn when I last called. The second one wasn’t able to answer as her son was in hospital at that very moment. The third call I missed while feeding was my other pregnant friend calling to tell me she had whooping cough. Last month I returned a call to find out my other best friend was pregnant and I hadn’t the time to return her call. 

Today I realised that the perfect time for that chat doesn’t actually exist. It’s actually now. I thought today how one day it might be someone’s most important phone call that I miss. The one that is to tell me they have cancer, or the one that is to tell me a partner has passed away or the one that is to tell me their child is born. And here I am thinking I’m so busy that I can’t answer the phone. My aim from now is to answer the calls even if the boys are jumping on my head, screaming and making it impossible to hear.even if I’m trying to do the food shopping and Sammy is launching roast chickens and tomatoes at other shoppers. I’m going to try hard to Atleast answer – then ask if I can call them back.

As busy as I have thought myself to be, I feel like I’ve let down those that have needed me. If I was important enough for them to think about in their busy days- then they should also be as important in mine. Really… It’s not that hard. 
P.s I did say ‘try’… Could take sometime to make this transition so feel free to use mess bank if it’s not as quick a change as I intend 😂😂

Life with 3- It’s a girl!

 

I have been wanting to write this for the last 9 weeks. Because I wanted to share, but also so that once the newborn love bubble has popped I could remember this feeling forever. I’m looking at this beautiful little raven haired parcel, our little pixie whose new born hair sits just over the top of her little tiny ears, and still can’t believe how lucky we are. After having two bubbly, full of fun little boys we hit the jackpot and have our little girl. It’s funny, I didn’t really know how much I wanted a girl until we actually had her in our arms. Her name is Elsie, and she is just perfect.

The moment the doctor had delivered her and told us it was our girl, I was overcome with shock. I still can’t believe it-I had to ask if they were sure she was mine. Why would we deserve such a perfect little baby? They placed on her my chest and I just cried the ugly, snorting, raw type of cry that only a mum could understand. I couldn’t take my eyes off her then- and haven’t done since. She is the first girl that her brothers will love.

Nine weeks on and baby number 3 has certainly turned our lives upside down but in the best kind of way. There are the things that I catch myself saying, doing and thinking that would’ve shocked the first time mum version of me. There are now things that must just wait and then there are the things that you want to just slow down. With two children you can still try to have control over your house, your life and your sleep. By number three there is no disguising the fact that shit just got hard, but also that you are happy to just let things slide.

I used to be able to beat my washing….now my washing has well and truly beaten me with a big dirty stick. So much so that most days I only get around to chucking clothes on the spare bed and rarely get around to putting them away. We just accept that clothing is now permanently located on the ‘bedrobe’. I just noticed yesterday that some items are appearing for the 4th time on the bed without ever having set foot in the wardrobe. It’s like a one stop shop that has something for everyone. A place where jocks and socks can mingle freely, and where tshirts and jeans can live harmoniously in one big cult like community without being judged for being on the wrong shelf

I never ever would have let my kids leave the house in mismatched clothing. The thought of stripy tshirts and stripy shorts in the same outfit horrifies me and here we are in 2016 like some Playschool presenter rocking every colour of the rainbow in one outfit. My middle child Sammy has decided now that he will dress himself. He likes to choose outfits while I am stuck on the couch feeding Elsie- knowing full well I can’t do a thing about it. He has now worn the same soccer top for the fourth day in a row….only on the fourth day it was covered in spaghetti. I let him wear it to avoid the argument and to be honest I physically couldn’t chase him around the house and dress him with a baby hanging on to my nipple like it was an all you can eat buffet. I have surrended! Let him wear what he wants! Yesterday this included my socks, because he didn’t like his.

Online shopping delivery guy has become my new bestie. I hear his rusty truck pull up and his squeaky little trolley pushing up the driveway and am overcome with excitement. I see him and think ‘ I really hope he has the toilet paper- we have no tissues left, the wipes are almost out and to be honest the paper towel is just too scratchy’.  This little angel who for some reason can only give a delivery timeframe to the nearest 3 hours appears at my door and peacefully delivers my groceries. Groceries that with 3 children would’ve taken me 3 hours, 2 mid shop trolley abandonments, 14 threats of smacks and no treats, 4 arm squeezes and secret underarm grabs, 4 tantrums and the promise of  2 kinder surprises to get myself.

The school run has become an outrageous cruel and sick joke. I will leave it at that…mums will understand. No need to elaborate.

I drink beer now….sometimes at 4pm. Some days I ask myself ‘Is 3pm too early?’.

Suddenly knowing this will be my last baby, the hard things are no longer hard for the same reasons.  Rather than finding it hard to wake up at 2am I’m finding it hard to accept that each night it could be the last time my baby will wake me in the night to let me know she has missed me. It’s not hard that she has wanted to cuddle all day, especially from 4pm till 6pm when I’m trying to cook dinner. It is hard knowing that one day she will be too big to carry on my chest while trying to peel potatoes with one hand. It’s suddenly not such a pain in the ass to sort the clothes she has grown out of already, now it breaks my heart that I’ll never have another baby to wear them.

Having number three has given me a heart I didn’t know I had.  I didn’t know it could be so full, so complete and so thankful. As hectic, messy and loud as life has been this past 2 months there has not been a minute since having her that I would ever take back.

Why I wouldn’t mind being an 80’s mum…

 

Hey 2016 mums, hold on to your almond milk lattes and cacao protein balls…this will really freak you out.

Here is a picture of my 80’s mum.  It was taken with an actual camera. To see this photo she had to first finish the film, take it to the shops to be developed, wait up to a week and then go back to see that 20 of the 24 pictures had a dirty finger blocking the lens and that her children weren’t even looking at the camera.

PHOTO

You also won’t believe it but she didn’t take this photo of herself. Long, long ago mums didn’t need to take photos of themselves being mums and doing mum things. Apparently it was very possible to look after your kids and not tell every Sue, Sharon and Tracy about it. Kind visitors would offer to take pictures for you if they believed what you were doing was worthy of taking a photo. Unbelievable…..I know. How did she know she was doing a good job as a mum if there was no one there to ‘like’ and comment on her post workout photo? Taken whilst balancing her kids on her size 6 hip and removing gluten free, dairy free, vegan friendly, sugar free, organic substitute muffins from the oven? How did she keep going without reading ego stroking comments like ‘wow…you really are a supermom!’ or ‘You look amazing’.

And OMG what is mum wearing? Where is her ‘active wear’? No Lorna Jane here. Good mums don’t sit down during the day to play with their own kids? They go to the gym. Good mums also drop the older kids off at school, then take the remaining children to as many activities as they can in 5 hours. Apparently children very much enjoy going to places where other adults play with your kids for you. No, don’t be fooled – the 2 year old’s you see being dragged into Kindygym and gymnastics kicking and screaming actually really love it and they’ll be photos on Instagram later to prove it.

Hang on….Is that a disposable nappy I can see peaking over the top of my non-branded kids clothing? Why aren’t I wearing a 100% hemp/bamboo blend recyclable and reusable nappy? This must be the reason I have issues as an adult. And check out the daggy surrounds. Where is the abstract art? Designer rug? And on trend colour palette?

You get my point right. This week I could literally vomit at what I have seen and heard coming from the mouths and social media accounts of 2016 mums. Admittedly I can log off. I know being on social media has inadvertently overexposed me to a whole group of what can only be described as ‘asshole mums, but let’s face it they are everywhere. I guess I’ve just been trying hard to hide from them since 2010.

Don’t get me wrong – I have also had my crack at making  ‘clean muffins’ and I also take my kids to activities and post on social media, but please stop me when I begin think that I am the most amazing mum in the world because of it. Truth be told- some days I take my kids to activities because I can’t cope at home all day. I make muffins because I know it will waste an hour of the day and keep the boys from hitting each other over the head. I don’t do things for ‘likes’. This morning I got caught at school drop off dragging my screaming son from our car and allowing him to fall on to the grass in a heap to teach him a lesson. Yep….great mum! Will I be posting photos of myself and screaming son on Instagram with captions such as ‘love of my life’ while we gaze into each other’s eyes today? No, no and more no! Of course he is the love of my life, but today he was a little poo.

This week one of my ‘mum activities’ after school drop off was taking our broken laptop in for repairs in with 3 year old in tow. I handed the crumpled, used Aldi bag containing my laptop over the counter proudly exclaiming ‘all the cords are in there’ (secretly thinking how organized I was). After spending a second looking through the bag the repair guy replies ‘yeah I think there’s even some underwear in there too’. Shock, horror – sitting in the bag peering up at me were a pair of my dirty knickers that must have fallen inside in the weeks that the bag has been sitting in my wardrobe. Yep great mum……

Life is not perfect despite some people’s attempts to fool everyone on Facebook.

I guess my angry little point is, when did we become so needy and reliant on gaining other peoples approval in order to measure and compare our worth as a mum? Why are some going to absolute extremes to portray a ‘perfect mum’ profile? Or casting the net further – why do some people make up completely false online lives for themselves, and then you’re face to face and don’t recognize them?  The sane amongst us are not buying it…we should be reading between the lines. Get real. It is often those who spend the most time talking about how great life is….who are trying hardest to convince themselves.

Mums have been raising kids for thousands of years. You are not a super mum, superwoman or mum because you made your child hand rolled sushi for lunch and took a photo of them eating a coconut today. Nothing at all wrong with doing any of the above, but the ‘mummy –bragging’ has to stop. Stop speaking ‘out loud’ or ‘online’ about things that we don’t need to hear about. Keep it to yourself. Be humble, be helpful. Be real and be a friend to other mums who are also dealing with ‘little poos’ today. Take and post photos because you love them not because you need to be validated by strangers…because people who really know you, know that it’s all bullshit.

Our 80’s mums did it……..and they did it well. Guess what, they didn’t even need the photos prove it.

It’s been a long time between drinks…..

 

Hello! Is anyone out there?  No I’m not trying to impersonate Adele, but am totally expecting to be writing to myself for a few weeks because let’s face it- it’s been a long time between drinks…literally.

Well here I am crawling back with my tail between my legs to ask for ‘blogging’ forgiveness. It has been 9 months since my last post and well…..the longer you leave things, the easier it is to keep avoiding. So the best way to get back on the horse, is to just jump back on and not think over think things too much. So I thought a quick update of all things teacher versus mummish was on the agenda so ease me back into things lightly.

Anyway, Attention everyone, breaking news! Since my last post it seems that ‘not making plans’ worked out really well- I wasn’t just writing rubbish after all. In 5 short weeks baby number 3 arrives, and we are also happy to report that the baby will not have to reside in the front courtyard of our tiny townhouse, as we magically found a new house as well. Despite my husband’s most convincing speeches about how easy it is to fit just one more child into a 3 door Barina hatchback, we have also managed to trade in the boy toy lawnmower for something more family friendly. It has definitely been a huge 6 months and to those considering it- the third child really tips you over the edge…everything needs to be bigger!

I finished up work at the end of the December and for those clever, experienced teachers who told me that job-sharing was hard, despite me mentally thinking ‘piece of cake’ – yes you were correct, it was bloody hard!. Since finishing up so many people have asked ‘I bet you’re glad to be finished’ and the answer was of initially yes. Eight weeks later I have decided it is far more exhausting staying home and looking after 2 boys than it was looking after 30 children.

My beautiful first born baby also started big school last week. He was mine for 5 years and now he begins a life that I will know little about, besides the small snippets he can remember to tell me when he stumbles into the car like an exhausted monkey every afternoon. Apparently his new school excels in providing quality ‘playtime’, as this is all he manages to report from his busy school day. Must remember this when I go back to work…no more planning or teaching anything, It’s a waste of time! All parents will judge my professional performance based on how exciting the adventure playground was.

Personally the last few months have been tough and challenging. Us female creatures are tough to conquer at the best of times but add some hormones and some negative thinking to the mix and we become ticking time bombs. Big apologies to the friends I haven’t called. It wasn’t because I don’t care…It was because I just couldn’t. But I think I am back for now. Big hugs to my wonderful husband for always providing the ‘positive’ in a dark day

There’s excitement in the air at our house and we are so looking forward to meeting our beautiful new human and celebrating with a few hundred glasses of wine (between responsible breastfeeding guidelines of course ……I can already tell this one will enjoy merlot). This post was sponsored by Avent Breast pumps.