I don’t spend enough quality time with my son and I have a constant fear that I’m going to miss something important.
Will I be in the office when he takes his first steps?
Will I be in a meeting while he starting to mutter his first words?
I hate that feeling. And it’s not just the important milestones I worry about missing. I worry about not being the person changing his nappies during the day, or the person he goes to for his cuddles if he bangs his knees on the ground, or the one he cuddles when he’s ready for his afternoon nap.
I made the decision to take 6 weeks off completely when I had Oliver in February 2015. It had been a complicated pregnancy that ended in an emergency C section. Perhaps, had I know it would be so complicated and that I’d have a 6 week CS recovery, I’d have planned things differently.
But maybe I wouldn’t.
I’ve worked for a digital agency in Manchester for 6 years. I’m now a Director and there are people in the team and clients who rely on me. I also love working. I do. I get a kick out of being busy and hitting targets.
It also made sense for us financially at the time for me to take a short maternity stint and for my husband to take my unused maternity leave in the form of Additional Paternity.
So I took 6 weeks completely off. At that point, I returned to the office for 2 days each week and then at 20 weeks, I went back to the office full time and I’ve been contending with that guilty feeling ever since.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s flexibility that comes with my role. If I need to leave early, I can. Being out of the office for various appointments isn’t a problem. But, with commuting taken into account, I’m out of the office for around 11.5 hours a day Monday to Friday.
Those 11.5 hours just happen to be 11.5 of the 12 that he’s awake.
I come home, have a cuddle, bath him, get him ready for bed, read him a story and put him to bed, with the exception of weekends.
Of course, weekends are wonderful. I spend my entire weekend with the little fella and I look forward to holidays.
I should point out that I don’t believe it has hindered our bond. Not at all. And he’s just as close to his Daddy too. I don’t feel as though he’s missed out. But that doesn’t stop me feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt as I leave the house each morning.
I selfishly worry about me missing out – me missing out on his milestones, or his little moments. He’s developing wonderfully and is an incredibly happy little boy. And yet here I am feeling sorry for myself because I feel like I am missing out.
I’ve read the research. I know all about the positive impact that a working Mother can have on a child’s attitude to work and their likelihood to be successful later on in life. I also appreciate that my husband and I can give our son a comfortable home, fun days out and odd weekend away.
But I wish I could spend more time with him. Even just another day in the week.
This week, my husband (who has now returned to work 2 days a week) worked an extra day and I took a day’s annual leave on Monday. Oliver and I spent the day together, just us two. And I had the best day I’ve had in a long time.
My working situation is unlikely to change for the foreseeable. And I see the benefits (phenomenally so) of my son having so much time with his Daddy.
But would I do things differently if we have a second child in the future?
Maybe. I won’t know until I’m in that situation.
At the moment, I’m just incredibly appreciative of having such a supportive husband and a fantastic little boy.