I never really thought that much about what life would be like after I had kids. Having a baby was such a theoretical / abstract / hypothetical scenario until I actually became pregnant that I prepared very little before-hand. Is this normal? I don’t know. I think I assumed I would figure things out along the way and that having a baby was such a natural thing that things would, well, come naturally.
That’s definitely true when it’s come to keeping Freddy healthy, happy, and safe, ignoring the 500+ google searches I’ve done on everything from ‘Photos of normal baby poo’ to ‘Is my baby squinting too much.’ Or asking the Health Visitor if Freddy hiccuped too much. I think I’ve done ok on the general survival front.
What I should have thought more about, though, was me. What would I be like after I had a baby? I wrote about that a bit here – the myriad of changes a parent goes through once they’ve given someone half of their DNA. I wrote about the vacillation between work and staying home, and if I’m honest, the vacillating continues.
With a view to possibly start working again, I visited my first nursery last week. It was sweet, but shocking. I’d never seen a nursery, but always kind of imagined babies sitting in a circle on fluffy pillows singing ‘I Love You, You Love Me, We’re a Happy Family,’ while rays of sunlight streamed through the window to warm the babies’ pudgy toes. What I actually saw was something akin to the aftermath of a tornado, if everyone living in the town was two years old and younger.
Anyway, it was just FINE and a lovely place and I’m sure Freddy would have a blast going there everyday doing messy play and tumbling on seriously impressive indoor climbing structures.
However I left hugging Freddy tightly and felt conflicted. I don’t actually have to go back to work if my husband and I continue to be smart about our finances. And I actually still enjoy being at home with Freddy full-time, good days and bad. So why am I putting so much pressure on myself to join the workforce again and place Freddy into a nursery?
I think it simply comes down to the fact that society doesn’t really put a lot of value on mothers who decide to make looking after their children their full-time job, the “Stay At Home Mom’. Women who maintain a professional life and manage motherhood are lauded and applauded. And men who make parenting their full-time occupation are treated like deities. But women who spend 45 minutes trying to get their baby to nap after lunch, and then spend their afternoon at a petting zoo or reading ‘We’re Going on A Bear Hunt’ for the tenth time everyday are seen as…kind of losers. I know that’s what a lot of people think of Stay At Home Moms, because I used to think that, and I’m really sorry about that now.
It might just be that I end up becoming a Stay At Home Mom until Freddy, and any possible not-planned-yet-don’t-get-excited-mom siblings, are a bit older by default. It’s not as if I have employers coming to me and begging me to work. Finding a job as a non-entity in a foreign country is hard work and requires dedication and commitment, and if I’m honest I don’t really feel either right now.
So if that’s the case, I need to become OK with being a Stay At Home Mom and confident with that decision. I need to not cringe every time I fill out a form asking for my employment or think I’m less-than when I socialise with working-mum friends or meet new people and get the dreaded ‘so what do you do‘ question. Or feel guilty when I look at my CV, diplomas, and professional awards. There is a time and place for all of that, I think. Right now, I think it’s just time for me to just be a mom.