Monday 20 April 2015

Back to Work Already

Today was my first day back at work after eight months of maternity leave. I had hoped to go back relaxed and fresh, ready to deal with anything, but after a hectic weekend, not enough sleep and trying to get through all the housework, I woke up exhausted and aching. I quietly shuffled into work at 7am, got organised and by 9am had cleared the 576 e-mails sitting in my inbox.

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.  


  1. Umm Shareef25 April, 2015

    Assalamu aleykum dear sister,

    Well done for going back to work! It must be quite daunting to have to leave baby. I pray that everything will be OK for you and that the family are fine.

  2. Aoa and thank you for the lovely post and blog which I enjoy (But never comment). Who looks after your babies while you are at work? I have one toddler who attends nursery full time and I work f-t and I find the whole routine exhausting and worse than staying-at-home, so I am always inspired and encouraged by you. XXX

  3. Mashallah make allah make it even more easy for are always in my remind me of myself dealing with young kids as time passes you will remember these days and think how did i do it all!!

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  6. Asalaamu alaikum

    So Desis don't make small talk,don't make jokes? Is this why its hard for me as a convert to get close to Pakistanis? I always thought we were the direct people. My husband is Malaysian and they are so indirect that they think all white people are just plain rude. But here you are saying the opposite. Interesting. So I should just skip the small talk and jokes and then what..ask direct questions? Its not considered too straighforward or rude? lol Mosque culture shock.