Here's What Happened When I Went Back To Work - The M Word

Here’s What Happened When I Went Back To Work

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I recently started a new job. Yay me, right?

I’ve been at home with my little monkey for over a year now and I have loved having this time together. I won’t lie, there have been tough days…okay many tough days. She headed into the ‘Terrible Twos’ much earlier than I expected and battling a tiny version of myself everyday did get exhausting. But there were moments amidst the crazy that made my heart melt and I know I will always be grateful for the time we had together. However, she will be starting pre-school in September so I felt that it was time for me to step back into the working world.

The week before I started I was excited. I could have coffee breaks again!

I could wear nice clothes without fearing a snot explosion! I could go five minutes without hearing that yell of ‘mummy’ followed by tears! I could even go to the toilet without company…I’m assuming my colleagues won’t follow me to the loo to discuss the latest paw patrol episode. So, yes, bring on the adult world where people don’t have a tantrum when you tell them they can’t have cheese dippers for breakfast.

All was well until I actually had to start. There were tears. All mine I might add. She was as cool as a breeze. She has always spent two afternoons a week with a childminder so it would simply be a case of her spending slightly longer in a place she thinks of as her second home. My new role is part-time so it really isn’t too much of a change…for her.

For me….well I am a mess. I expected to feel some sadness and of course nerves at returning to the workplace. What I didn’t expect was this level of grief. A friend of mine described it as shock. And I was so so shocked that first morning. My husband was put in charge of actually dropping her to the childminder…seeing mummy collapse in tears is probably not the best way for a toddler to start her morning.

After they left I didn’t feel like myself. The atmosphere of my life was different. Though I had yet to even leave the house I felt that everything had changed and the little cocoon we had created would now be pierced by the real world. Even packing my handbag felt strange…no need for soothers or little dinosaurs…no need for nappies or wipes…I suddenly regretted my decision over and over again, wishing I could go back to the days when it was just the two of us…

I walked to work and was soon surrounded by other commuters.

They strolled confidently by me; cups of coffee in hand and swinging handbags. I didn’t feel like one of them.

I missed my mini sidekick, I missed her little voice and her small hand in mine. A mother passed me pushing a buggy. I could feel the tears in my eyes and was overwhelmed by the urge to rewind history, to go back to the safety and familiarity of our old routine. Why do things have to change anyway?

I should mention here that I am not good with change; even good change causes major anxiety and palpitations.

My friends and family have tried to reassure me that I’ll feel a lot better once I have settled into my new role; now I have time to just be ‘Ann-Marie’ instead of ‘Mummy’. Honestly this hasn’t made me feel any better though I do know they are just trying to help. I miss being ‘Mummy’ on the days I am at work.

Confession time: I did get a tiny glimmer of what they meant while on my lunch break last Friday. To cheer myself up I decided to go out for lunch. I admit it was nice to be able to sit and read my book while sipping a warm cappuccino. Normally lunch is a rushed affair; a ham sandwich eaten in between loads of laundry, convincing the toddler she does want to sit at the table to eat and catching up on my writing.

I still do feel an ache at the thoughts of leaving her again next week and I can’t imagine a time when I won’t. But I have to have faith that perhaps the perks of warm coffee and quiet moments to myself will help make the transition that bit easier. Wish me luck…