On the 31st of January I officially completed my last day of maternity leave and became a full time stay at home mum (although I have to say there isn't an awful lot of staying at home involved!) I went into my school to hand in my keys and access card and say bye to the other teachers in my department, as I left school I felt a range of emotions, from sadness at leaving my job, my fellow teachers and my pupils, to joy and relief that I wasn't going to have to leave my baby boy with a nursery or child-minder, and I would get to do what I have always dreamed of, bring up my own baby and being a mum. It wasn't an easy decision to make, losing one income in our house means making cutbacks in our daily living, lots of compromises and penny pinching. I also have a strange shadow of a feeling of losing part of myself somehow. I don't relish the thought of not being employed, particularly not having my own money but also losing a substantial part of my identity, teaching art is part of who I am and I am not going to have that any more, I certainly feel like I am losing a small amount of independence, it's something I am still getting my head around, but trying to accept that I have a new job now, the most wonderful and important job I will ever and could ever do.
As I drove home, my little mad sleeping in the back, Lady GaGa on the CD player, I reflected on the past year, on the highs and lows and on what a challenging year it has been. As well as the most wonderful experiences and emotions, at times I have also felt broken, torn apart, vulnerable and insecure. It has definitely been the hardest year of my life. And as stressful and frustrating as teaching has been at times nothing has compared to how hard it is being a parent. I used to think it was hard work being a teacher, going to work every day, teaching unappreciative children, working long hours, often thankless and sometimes depressing, but I didn't know anything! I didn't have a clue about how hard life could be until I became a parent. Giving birth has defiantly scarred me, it broke me open, both physically and emotionally and I am still recovering. Looking after a tiny baby who doesn't...can't thank you, the breastfeeding, the wakeful nights, the feeling of desperation when your precious baby is crying and nothing...nothing seems to make him feel better. The hours I spent walking in circles around the green opposite my house soothing him to sleep in the carrier, these are all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actually looking after a baby.
And I now have so so much admiration for my parents, my mother particularly, and mothers everywhere. To me there really is nothing harder than being pregnant, giving birth and being a mother. I can't even being to imagine how hard it must be for women who desperately want to stay home with their babes and for financial reasons they have to go back to work, I know how lucky I am that statying at home was an option for me. And don't get me wrong, I chose it, I wanted it, it was, is a dream that for a long time I never thought would come true. And I LOVE it.
On Monday my gorgeous boy turns one and I will reflect on the day my life changed forever and do you know what, we may not have much money but I couldn't be happier. And I can't wait to continue sharing my life with you, hopefully more frequently in future even if I am clumsy with my words and stumble on my phrasing, I have found writing this blog helpful in enabling me to reflect on life, so as sparse as it is sometimes, I still love it.