I then enjoyed a quiet coffee, that I could drink while it was still warm, which doesn't happen at home. My girls have got a hot coffee radar; no matter what time I make my morning coffee, Darling and Pixie will wake up at exactly that time and howl for me. I spent the rest of the morning with everyone that goes passed my desk exclaiming “oh, your back! How’s the baby?”, leading to a conversation that ended each time with “well lovely to have you back, I’ll catch up with you later”.
After a nice leisurely lunch with two friends, I familiarised myself with all of the systems, caught up on reading material, had a meeting with my manager about starting a new project and spent the rest of the day doing more reading while I waited for 4pm to come round.
By the time it was time for me to go home, I felt well rested, slightly less achy and much more cheerful than I had for a few days. It felt a bit like I had been on holiday, or a day spa even.
Mums that stay at home often get made to feel as if what they do is easy in comparison to work outside the home. Often they make themselves feel that way by not valuing what they do – like when they say “oh I'm just a housewife”. But having been at home for the last eight months I can say that formal work is a doddle compared to being a wife, mother and home-maker. This is regardless of whether you have one child or six. The dedication required is the same, the 24/7 nature of the work is the same and the giving up of so very much of yourself that you sometimes wonder if there is any of the original, old you left is also the same.
So today, for the first time in my twelve year career as a mother I felt no guilt for leaving the girls and going to work. I felt as if my aching bones, sore head and overwhelmed brain have earned a few hours of quiet and calm, even if your heart is still right there with them.
There has been one strange side effect of going back to work after what feels like so long. I seem to have lost some of social skills for the time being. I've spent so long around either just the kids or just my Pakistani/Bengali (“desi”) friends, family and neighbours that I seem to have lost the art of small talk. Kids tend to be quite direct and you can respond to them in quiet direct way. Desi’s also tend to be quite direct, (I think that gentle, slightly beside the point, small talk is more of an English thing). Usually I'm quite comfortable with that kind of banter and chatter, but today on one or two occasions when someone tried to make a joke I just looked at them blankly or gave them a slightly awkward answer. I'm sure my brain will catch up after a few days, but part of me quite likes being so direct - feels like much less effort.
The girls reaction when I got home was priceless. Darling jumped up and ran to me and Pixies smile lit up her whole face. She dribbled all over my face, I'm not sure what she was trying to do! I've spent most of the evening cuddling them both an absolutely revelling in them alhamdulillah.