Blog Motherhood

The Chip on My Shoulder

I’m at that stage now where the people in my year at school are starting to have babies. And that makes me feel very old. And very excited. And it also makes me reminisce an awful lot about my time. The time I became a first-time mum and the time I fell in love like never before.

These memories are happy and full of dozy maternity days, heavy eyelashes falling on tiny plump cheeks, and that newborn smell. I just remember being so deliriously happy, sore and tired all in one, but I was so secure in that feeling.

It wasn’t until I was sorting out my files this week, ahead of future plans, that I came across a printed spreadsheet.

It was full of sums. Full of subtractions. And notes. And as I took a closer look, my heart ached as I realised it was my 24 year-old self trying to work out how much maternity leave she could afford.

And it was then that I realised that it’s my chip on my shoulder. I suppose, as mothers, we all have one. We all have that one thing that makes us feel frustration, or a desire to go back and do it right.

I remember making that spreadsheet. I remember hitting sales figures. And saving every bit of money I could find. I remember the relief in still fitting in my pre-pregnancy clothes as I got bigger – because I was already big. And I remember the pride in finishing my new baby’s nursery in time – the feel of a new carpet under foot, and the smell of fresh blue and cream paint. All things I’d tried hard to get sorted so my baby would have everything he needs.

Except me. Or at least, in the way he should have had me.

In the end, the house needed to be done. My son’s room had a sagging ceiling. And a carpet so dusty and worn that it no longer stretched to the edges of the room.

I had 11 weeks in total. That may not seem like very much to some, but for me, finishing at 39 weeks and four days pregnant, it felt like a holiday.

But he was late. And I was heartbroken. Not just because I was fat and bored – I was that too – but I felt like someone had turned the hourglass too early and I couldn’t stop the time from slipping away. In the end, he was just shy of nine weeks when I found myself sat at my desk – a desk that hadn’t even had the chance to grow a dusty layer.

I know that, ultimately, I didn’t have a choice. I stretched myself as far as I could, because, as we all know, love just isn’t enough to raise a child.

Now I see my friends having children of their own. Watching their bellies swell. And wondering whether their baby is blue or pink, I just want to say one thing.

It’s not “enjoy the rest while you can” or foreboding warnings of how their lives will change forever and they will never have fun again.

Because motherhood is by far the best thing to of ever happened to me.

I want to say this.

Grab every second that you can with your baby. Because it really does slip through your fingers. And before you know it, that baby is a toddler. And you have to say goodbye, sometimes for days, and you can’t rewind.

The future is always a brilliant thing to look forward to. But while your future is my past, make sure you take every second you can get.

___

This article is also brilliant. And kind of relates to what I’ve spoken about. I can’t understand why we don’t do more for mothers. And fathers. Families.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Kirsty Wyatt
    29th January 2015 at 9:54 am

    I'm so very fortunate that my employer gives full pay for the first 6 months, SMP for the following 3 months and nil pay for the 3 months that follow that.

    With my first, I went back after 6 months and this time I'm taking the year. I do have a maternity leave spreadsheet. A sad fact of life.

  • Reply
    Nicola LifeThroughMyEyes
    29th January 2015 at 11:04 am

    Awwww. I never had to take maternity leave so don't understand what you went through but know it wasn't easy. I'm also very lucky to be a stay at home mum now and thank the stars each night. Babies do grow up so so quickly xx

  • Reply
    Donna Wishart
    29th January 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I can't imagine going back to work so soon after having a baby but I was very lucky that I had 5 months full pay from work, 4 months statutory and then they kept my job open until a year. I also had a hell of a lot of accrued holiday so ended up not going back either time until over a year had passed. We all have to do what is right for our family at the time and although you went back to work you weren't less of a Mum, you just had a different job to do at that time in life x

  • Reply
    Sonia Constant
    29th January 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Ahh I love this post, I am glad I am not the only one who feels sad, I did get more than 9 weeks though. Well, technically. After 8 weeks I returned to wedding photography with my husband, so I had to stop breastfeeding before then as we were doing 12 hour days but I went back to my full time job after 6 months and that feels too short. So goodness knows how you must have felt.

    I feel dreadful when I look back on Islas life, I have been working full time for most of her life, it is quite appauling really but I need to so we can get a mortgage and get a family home. 🙁

  • Reply
    Twin Mummyyummy
    29th January 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I resent the fact that I have to leave my babies every day. I know exactly what you mean here. We do need to return to work as and when it suits our own families, but I am envious of SAHM and wish I could be one too. I don't think it's an easy job, but very rewarding raising your own children all day, every day.

  • Reply
    itsamiraclexo
    29th January 2015 at 8:12 pm

    This post is beautifully written. I actually felt sad with you. You're so sweet, and a awesome mum! I am fortunate enough to stay at home with our son. Although being a SAHM is not exactly the glam life, I'm so grateful for it. I can only imagine how hard it was leaving your son at such an early stage to go back to work, but you're teaching him a valuable lesson in life – how important raising a family & work ethic is. You should be proud of yourself. xx

  • Reply
    Leanne Edwards
    29th January 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Hello my lovely. I feel your pain. I was lucky I had a good maternity package at work but I still returned to work while my baby was nearly 9 months old. Much earlier than some of my other friends who took a whole year off. Who had that luxury. I didn't. I couldn't. We needed both wages. We have to balance and work out childcare in a mix of family and nursery and it is a constant struggled. These days are hard. Leaving my baby at nursery. And collecting him 7 hours later. 7 whole hours he has been under someone else care who is not family. 7 whole hours he has played and learned and grown and explored. 7 whole hours I have not been at his side. I joke that going to work is a break. Which at times it is with two boys running me ragged but that does not mean that while in sitting at my desk after enjoy that hot cuppa tea I don't then think really I shouldn't be here. I should be a mum at home. I should be that mum. But I'm not. I'm this one. And I'm doing the best bloody job I can mange right now. For me. For the kids. For my husband. Right now. We are doing what we can. That's all we can ask for. Right?

  • Reply
    Jenny Ripatti-Taylor
    30th January 2015 at 11:31 am

    Oh Charlotte this is so beautifully written. I feel you. I am sorry you didn't get longer but you still loved him and cared for him like ana amazing mother should and that means more. In America we get three weeks unpaid leave and that's it get your butt back to work bye bye baby so I was lucky to have maternity leave here. I think it's not often that us as new mothers in other countries get that time with our babies but it doesn't mean you missed out, or that you loved less or cared for less. Just a few tiny moments missed but made up for now and in the future to come with them. It's all in the eye of the beholder my lovely. Great post.

  • Reply
    Jane Hoehoegrow
    30th January 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Sometimes I feel that my generation, and the ones who went before, didn't really do you any favours. Yes, you have more choices, less limitations and equality, but to a lot of mums, it seems to mean having to work ridiculously hard at every aspect of life and then being torn by guilt.

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