When I found out I was pregnant, I never expected to become a stay at home mum (STAHM). Even as I left work to start my maternity leave, I knew I was coming back. But, then my daughter was born and everything changed.
The stay at home mum tag
According to The Office for National Statistics, every one in eleven mothers is a stay at home mum. I call myself a stay at home working mum rather than a stay at home mum. I ended my maternity leave early and started working as a freelance writer back in December. Now, I have no issue with how other people see or define me but, for me, the phrase stay at home working mum is exactly what I am and sums up what I do perfectly.
Did I really say that?
I remember saying numerous times during my pregnancy that I’d be back and that I’d have the need to ‘use my brain’ after 12 months at home with my daughter. As if I wouldn’t be using my brain during my maternity leave. Whereas, the reality is mothers probably use their brain more during this time than they ever have done before. The constant planning ahead, remembering when the last feed and nappy change were, finding tricks to get veg into them when weaning, trying to get them to listen when you read a story, encouraging them to say their first word. All of this on top of sleepless nights, recovering from birth and in some cases battling postnatal depression.
I wasn’t enjoying my maternity leave as much as I should have been as I had a constant countdown in my head. 10 months left, 9 months to go, 8…and so on. It really wasn’t anyway to spend my precious time with my firstborn, but I couldn’t help it. I dreaded the thought of finding a childminder for Little E and talked myself out of going back four days a week to just three. I guess these thoughts should have told me every thing I needed to know; that returning to work after having a baby wasn’t for me.
A lucky coincidence?
Then I was blessed with the news that my employer was making redundancies and I was at risk. I waited for the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy and jumped at the chance. I appreciate that for many parents this is far from the ideal scenario, but for me it came at exactly the right time and was just what I needed. My redundancy even took effect from the week after my statutory maternity pay ended. It really did feel like fate was telling me something.
Five months on and I know I did the right thing. I love spending my days with my daughter and my dog, not being on anyone’s watch or having to answer to anyone. It’s a blessing to be lucky enough to be able to comfortably enjoy my situation. I thought I’d feel guilty for abandoning my work responsibilities, but, more than anything, I feel a huge weight of relief. Relief that I’m not letting anyone down when I have a rough night’s sleep due to teething. Relief that I’m not heading home early because little one has got a temperature. And relief that I’m a stay at home mum who is lucky enough to be able to provide for her family from home.