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?

 

 

 

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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.