It’s not a new. The “career vs baby”, or “working vs stay at home mum” debate has been around a long time. I’d wager money that the majority of Mother’s have battled with decisions surrounding the above on becoming a parent themselves, perhaps even long before.
The reason I’m referring to it now though is down to an article in this week’s Grazia. One that really got me thinking. A new book that has just been published, The XX Factor, is arguing that for some women, work is just as important as their family. The woman at the centre of the article in question, Rachel Roy, is a working mother-of-two, and I actually relate very closely to her story.
When Richard and I decided we wanted to start a family, it was at a time where I was on a career high. Having just been promoted, I was at the beginning of an exciting new chapter at work. Post-Grad studies complete, and a First Class honours degree under my belt, no one could dispute that I’d worked hard to get where I was.
Starting a family was therefore quite scary. I firmly believe, although it shouldn’t be so, that women are looked at differently in the workplace once having a family. Luckily, working within the Travel Industry, where there is a high bias towards females, and especially working within an office where that is certainly in the case, I didn’t feel this way too much, as some of my peers had had families and successfully returned to work.
Throughout my pregnancy, and I had a very easy time of it in the scheme of things, I kept working to my normal pace, taking only two weeks off before my due-date. Calum arrived two days late, and the first three months passed in a blur of new baby. Once I’d gotten into the swing of things as a new mother, my thoughts returned to work, as well as looking after my baby boy. I was an exciting time there due to new launches, and I was keen to find out how everything was going, using my KIT (Keep in Touch) days to do so. Being back at the office on those days was both strange and exhilarating – but at no point was I torn about going back to work after six months leave. January came around, and I was heading back on that Commuter Train, with Calum being looked after by Grandparents and Nursery. Of course I felt bad for leaving him, but ultimately, I knew he was in safe hands.
Was my return to work a necessity? Actually no. And this is where I relate to Rachel. I was in an enviable position where I could have become a stay at home Mum had I wanted to, but I LOVE my job. I enjoy my varied days, the environment in which I work and the people I work with. The office chats, the strategy planning and the daily life working brings gives me a huge sense of self – it makes me feel like me, just as Rachel eludes to.
Do I think Calum is worse off? Absolutely not. For more than half of the week he’s looked after by family, and then he’s at Nursery learning all-important social skills with other children. I also have a good balance where I can leave the office to make sure I can give him his supper, bath him, read him a story and do bedtime, every night. A luxury that poor Richard doesn’t get.
I love my Baby Boy with all my heart, and I know that he will understand, and appreciate as he gets older, that his Mummy works. My own Mum worked when I was a baby in a very good job as a Bio-Chemist for a well known Brewery. I guess that’s where I see the role-model coming from.
However, I differ from Rachel in one way. I DO have pictures of Calum on my desk. That gorgeous face both calms me and makes me smile, even if the conference call/meeting/email I’m attending to is driving me insane. He is my world (along with the Husband of course), but work plays an important part. They both coexist in my life, and for me, that’s nothing to feel guilty about.
Erin, Love from Cornfield…X