Lol. I think that’s probably the best place to start this post. Just with a casual lol. Lol at past Hannah, lol at the current situation, just lol.
I remember when I was pregnant – and even before I was even fully thinking about kids – I would loudly declare to anyone who asked me about work that I was ‘really lucky’ because as a self-employed person I could ‘just work around the baby.’
Maybe we should just pause to lol again here.
Because it was only when I was eight months pregnant and bouncing up and down on a birthing ball during a Tuesday evening NCT class that FUCKING HELL WHAT did I realise that actually hang on here, I was about to become a stay at home mum.
It had taken for our NCT leader to give us pens and paper and make us, in our couples, write down some of our expectations for how life would be post-baby for me to suddenly become aware of my life situation.
We had to write down how long we thought it would be before we had sex again, or left the baby with a relative, or who would be doing most of the housework and compare our answers with our baby daddies.
And it was only when discussing the housework conundrum whilst wailing ‘but can we just get a cleaner’, that I realised that WAIT ONE MOMENT, I’m going to be at home with a baby for the foreseeable future.
Now, the majority of women take maternity leave – some for six months and others for the full year. Some return to work full-time, others drop down to a four day week, and some job-share or go part down. And some warriors never go back, choosing to look after their offspring full-time themselves – either because their heart just isn’t in the working world anymore, or because financially it just doesn’t make sense.
Now, I had loosely come up with a post-baby work plan.
I knew I was going to take a full-month away from my laptop and phone following the birth, and then had reasoned I would edge my way back into the digital working world slowly sometime after that.
I would write when the baby napped, reply to emails as I went about my daily business, shoot photos with the baby in tow, and yes of course I would have Fridays free to werk werk werk whilst my boyfriend looked after said baby.
OK, come on pals, just one more lol for the people at the back.
It wasn’t just that I thought I could work like this for the ‘maternity leave’ period, it was that I thought I would do this indefinitely – until he was two and three and four and then yes please, off to school.
Well lemme tell you, that naive plan ain’t working.
After six months, it has become glaringly obvious that this gal can’t do it all. I am not a one-woman machine, contrary to popular belief (and by popular, I mean my own).
And I feel at breaking point.
Torn into about 3728462 pieces because I love my child, I want the best for my child, I want to be with him all the time and watch him grow – but more than any of that, I want him to turn out well. I want him to be happy and feel loved and secure, and – without getting deep and overshare-y and get the violins out – I want him to feel the way I never did.
But I also want to work because work gives me access to a lifestyle that I never knew possible.
It gives me a life that makes me feel emotional, in a good way. Hashtag blessed and all that.
It also fulfils me and gives me a chance to focus on myself. It is, without sounding corny and guuuuuuurl get a life, one of the greatest joys in my life.
But the guilt that comes from wanting life outside of raising a six-month old is overwhelming.
Because he should be enough.
I shouldn’t want to exist outside of him, should I?
And yet I do, I passionately do.
He is my world, and waking up to his gummy smile is one of the sparkliest things I have ever encountered in my twenty eight years.
But I need balance. I need to be mummy and I need to be Hannah Gale too.
So wish me luck whilst I try and come up with some grand master plan for the next few years.
Just don’t ask me about baby number two because there are not enough lols in the world for trying to work out how the flying fuck that would work.