So, imagine this. You move to a new country on your own at the age of 23. You have no professional references and an EMT certification that is of no use in this new country. A few months later you bag a temporary job in hopes you can gain some experience to get into full time employment. 7 years later you’re still at the company where you started as a temp and worked yourself up to a permanent middle management position. You are also handing in your resignation.
I remember at 16 I wanted a puppy. A Jack Russell Terrier to be exact. I asked my dad if I could get one and he said as long as I could pay for it. That was it for me, I went out after that and got my first job. It was part time on the weekends as I was still in high school, but for 16 hours a week I was a lifeguard at a water park earning that dollar to get a puppy. I got the puppy in the end and from then on I knew if I wanted something I needed to work for it.
Fast forward to when I was 23 and freshly immigrated to the UK. Being newly married and spent all my money on visas, I couldn’t afford to go to university. I needed a job. The only choice I had was to jump straight into the workforce and hope someone would give me a chance. I had a few interviews, but my lack of references always let me down. Luckily for me, a family friend called and said his work was looking for some temps for a few weeks. I didn’t want temp work but figured it was a reference and would help land a full time job down the road. I went in expecting an interview but instead was offered the job straight away based on my friends merit (forever grateful, thanks Dan!). It was a hard few months as I never knew how long this job would last. After the first 6 weeks, I was having to ask every Friday if I was needed the next week. It was soul destroying but equally as much as I knew I needed the money, I really enjoyed the work I was doing. After a few months, I was offered a permanent full time position within the company and I was on cloud 9.
When I was 27 my work life changed dramatically. I was promoted to a Junior Project Manager and I also gave birth to my daughter. I was now a working mom. I took 9 months maternity leave and was scared out of my mind about how I would cope. I did a slow phased return where I had Friday’s off with my daughter and the remainder of the week she was cared for by my husband or in-laws. This evolved into me returning to my full time position and my daughter being in nursery 3 days a week and with my in-laws 2 days a week. I coped well. We all coped well. I was thriving in my career and my daughter was thriving in nursery. I missed her, of course, but I also loved being an adult and using my brain. My job was very demanding and spending 40+ hours a week in the office or out in meetings meant that Monday to Friday I only saw my daughter a few hours a night before bed. That was hard and the mom guilt was strong. Sometimes as parents we have to do things that suck and break our hearts so we can provide for our families.
Roll on another 3 years and I had moved up to being a Project Manager. I was at such a high in my career and really building a great portfolio of experience. I never thought that when I started as a temp that I would be given the opportunities that I had or be where I was. I had also just found out I was pregnant with my second child. I had every intention of returning to work after another 9 months of maternity leave. My husband and I both naively thought we would both fall into the same routine as we did before. Oh were we wrong, so wrong. As they do with children, nothing was the same the second time around.
When my son was born, we were told he had a birth abnormality called hypospadias. Although it is common, we had never heard of it. We knew it would require surgery at some point in the summer before his 1st birthday and our only thoughts at the time was how our son would cope. It didn’t even cross my mind that this would fall after I would be back at work and his recovery would require 24hr care. In January, my daughter also started nursery at her primary school. Unfortunately, she didn’t get into the morning session that we applied for. This would pose a problem with me going to work and having a school run smack in the middle of the day. Now that my daughter is out of private nursery, there is also a hole in childcare for the 6 week summer holidays. Cue an issue around annual leave days and the amount of days I’d actually need off between my son and daughter.
I started to realise that even though my maternity leave was due to end in April, I wouldn’t realistically be able to return to work until roughly October. Even with that said, childcare would need to be arranged for both children. I looked at our options, figures and my salary. Anyone reading this who pays for childcare will know how extortionate it can be. For me to go back to work would leave me in the red after paying for childcare. I panicked. How would we survive? Would we need to move? Would I need to sell a kidney AND my Cath Kidston bags? No, we’d be okay after some adjustments. It was then I decided it was better for me to stay home than to return to work.
It wasn’t as simple as that though. I loved my job. It was very stressful and some days it really took it out of me, but I loved it. I worked damn hard in those 7 years to get to where I was and I had to say goodbye to some good friends. I also love my children and my family. I love them a whole hell of a lot more than my job. It was hard to walk into my office and hand over everything I built up, but my family comes first and for them I would do it again without hesitation. I always dreamed of being a stay at home mom and I know a lot of women (and men) would do anything for that opportunity. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t petrified about it though. I’ve gone from managing some of the biggest infrastructure and development projects in the country to being completely responsible for two tiny humans 24/7. Even though it is a scary transition, I am beyond excited about it and grateful for how things panned out. At first it looked like it was a bunch of inconvenient sequence of events but in reality they were beautifully timed to allow me this opportunity. I’m now a stay at home mom.
I know this was a really long post and they won’t always be this long or serious. I thought my first post should explain where I was and where I am now. Everything from here on out is how I adjust to being a “SAHM”, how my kids adjust and how my husband adjusts. Here’s to all the laughter and tears along the way!