Dark days: searching for a work life balance
by : Laura
This week, I have passed the 5 week mark of being back at work. Just over 5 weeks of being a full-time working mum. That’s over a month of being back in gainful employment.
What did I do to celebrate? I sat on my bed and cried. After a while, I moved downstairs to get started on the washing up…and cried again.
If you were looking for some sort of jovial celebration about my ability to combine motherhood and full-time employment, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. If that’s what you’re looking for, you may want to look away now; I don’t want to drag your mood down with mine.
I wrote a guest post a little while ago about whether being a working mother makes me a better parent; a desperate attempt to put a brave face on things, to look on the bright side of life and focus on the positives that come with earning a wage.
But, it’s not that easy. It never is, is it?
Yes, I love my job. Yes, it’s nice to have some ‘adult’ time. Yes, the money I earn helps to pay the mortgage and keep our roof over our heads. Yes, the money will help us finish the renovations on our house. Yes, it means we can still have holidays – quite nice holidays – and make the most of our family time together on them. Yes, I treasure my weekends with my children and want to make the most of having them to myself.
But, I hate the daily journey to work; the dog-eat-dog mentality of the London commuter. I hate the amount of time I have to spend commuting (over an hour each way and that’s on a good day). I hate the person I become in the week because I’m always rushing between home and office because of the long commute. I hate how I feel I have to rush the children around in the mornings and evenings because I’m worried about getting to work on time, getting home at a decent hour and getting them into bed for a long, good night’s sleep. I hate how little time I get to spend with them each day in the week. I hate how little I get to see my husband because he works long hours, mostly in the evenings and at weekends. But most of all, I hate how guilty I feel for all these things and for feeling the way I do.
I feel like a bad mother, a bad wife…a bad person.
No-one told me how hard going back to work was going to be. I didn’t think it would be easy but I wasn’t ready for this.
First time round, there was no issue with me returning to the world of work. Olivia was 7-months-old and we both adjusted to it easily and without incident. I always knew I would be going back full-time and that never mattered. I don’t understand why this time it feels so different.
This time, I feel like my world is on the verge of falling apart; like I’m about to crumble. I find myself on a regular basis crying, moping and feeling despondent, disengaged, numb. I’m drifting through a vast ocean, caught up amongst the crashing, tumultuous waves, swimming desperately against the tide but getting nowhere. Tired, confused, unsure in which direction to turn, flailing, drowning…
I’ve never felt like this before. It’s a scary place to be.
I’ve retreated into myself. I don’t say much and don’t show much enthusiasm for things. I know this. My husband knows it too. The other night he told me that I don’t contribute to the home. I can’t be upset with him for that, he’s right. I feel broken. I know I need to do something about it before I break my marriage as well as myself.
It’s time for a change. Whether it’s my mindset or my situation, something has to give.