Maternity leave was great. Our days were spent cuddling, eating, sleeping, singing and playing. But I wanted more. I wanted to have daily conversations with adults. I wanted to challenge myself, and I wanted to learn.
My daughter, Tia-Lee, was growing up so fast and I couldn’t keep up with her demands. She, like me, wanted to learn and interact with others. Since birth, she had always been a social butterfly.
So when Tia-Lee was six months old and with the support of my husband, I decided that it was time to go back to full-time employment. Being a stay-at-home māmā just wasn’t for me.
Everyone had warned me that the first couple of days were going to be difficult, so I was ready for the worst.
I was prepared to cry the whole drive to work. I was prepared to feel empty, vacant and deeply alone. I was prepared to feel like I had abandoned my child. I was prepared to feel the full wrath of māmā guilt. I was told that this was normal and I was ready for it. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was that I wouldn’t feel sad at all.
No tears. No empty feeling. No māmā guilt. I went to work, worked eight hours, picked up my daughter from daycare and went home. It was surprisingly easy. And it’s been that way for the last four months. I haven’t experienced any guilt because I know I made the best decision for myself and my family. I know that Tia-Lee is in safe hands and that she is enjoying every minute at daycare.
Since starting daycare, I have seen huge improvements in Tia-Lee’s development. Every day she comes home with something new that she’s learnt, whether it’s a new word or simply waving goodbye. She gets to spend all day playing, learning and interacting with children her own age.
As for me, I get to go to work and challenge myself. I get to discuss important issues and have adult conversations. And then at four o’clock, I get to switch off, take off my “corporate” hat and put on my “māmā” hat.
At times it can be hard juggling māmā duties and work commitments. There are days where I feel like I’ve been running around like a mad woman, but we get through it. I make sure that when Tia-Lee and I spend time together, she has my undivided attention, and our bond continues to grow every day.
This is what works for us and we’re happy. I’m simply not built to be a stay-at-home māmā, and that’s okay. My baby is thriving, and that’s all that matters.