At some stage throughout most pregnancies, maternity leave will enter a mother-to-be’s life. Some women love the break and never return to work. Some women, amongst other reasons, hate feeling isolated from the adult world and return to work as soon as possible. Some families can’t afford for mum not to work. Some families can’t afford the childcare. No matter what your situation is, maternity leave calls for big decisions. And in the last week I’ve been faced with several.
I have been one of those mum’s that has revelled in the maternity leave bubble. That 12 months where I can just ‘be’ with my little man and maintain the house (even if it becomes sporadic maintenance at times), build relationships with other mothers, attend to my baby’s and my own health needs, planning a holiday to Tassie, all without the worry as to how it affects my work. I was floating in my bubble above the ocean of happy families.
Now anyone that knows me and my husband, will know that we are desperate to buy a house. Seven years of renting with a revolving door of noisy neighbours is wearing as thin as the wall adjoining our unit to theirs. Chatting with our bank when I first began maternity leave we came to the conclusion that a home loan would probably not be comfortable for us until I returned to work and we were happy with that plan. We’d wait a few months after I went back to work and start looking for a house around Dec 2011, whilst save save saving in the meantime.
Then came the itch. The itch to move. The itch that rears its expensive head when you find the perfect house that you weren’t really looking for. The itch that appears to laugh at you when you are so very close to buying a home but not close enough. And when we’d just managed to dampen that itch with some will-power-Stingoes, along comes another house almost as perfect as the first and possibly within our reach, but would leave us floundering money-wise until I returned to work. Then I was offered a great position at a new organisation! Maybe I could go back to work really soon so we’d have more money! Such crazy stress was I under with all these thoughts running through my baby-brained head, I even thought it might be a good idea to use the money we’d saved for our holiday as part of a house deposit. We could always put our holiday on the credit card right!? BAH-BOWWWWWW! Fail!
I was beginning to realise that I’d whipped out a handful of pins and had proceeded to punch holes in my maternity leave bubble, which was sinking and beginning to let in water. Land was just off to my left, but did I even want to be back on the corporate soil? Even if it got us a house to live in eight months sooner than we’d planned, would it be worth giving up breastfeeding and the four months I’d worked so hard to get it established? Could I leave my little man at a daycare centre just yet? He was still so very little.
My bubble drifted on, leaking in the water that led me ever closer to my return to work. As I fed little Will in his sleep at 10.30 last night, I came to the conclusion that there is no way I could give up this time right now. Why would I go back to work when I can still stay home and revel in my little man’s amazingness every day?
So we’ve put a ban on all real-estate related material in our house and I’ve turned down the great position. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders; the leaks in my bubble have ceased and we’re back floating above calm seas. I will no doubt have to go through all of this again in another three months when I’m actually due to return to my job, but at least it will be for the right reasons then, not because I was pressured into it by making silly decisions. Maybe that’s why it felt so wrong.