Over the years I have continuously overheard comments that when you have children they need to fit around your schedule, and your job (and to be fair for some they do, and that’s ok) Once, whilst I was working in the local pub that I manage, I overheard a friend of a friend loudly declaring that when she has kids, there was no way she would allow them to define her working hours, she was looking at me when she said it and I knew it was all for my benefit, I smiled to myself and thought “how naive” I think guilt got the better of her though and she apologised to me on her way out.
However, I believe I’ve been fortunate enough to work in hospitality which means solely working evening shifts, meaning I’ve been able to work around my son. For the last 3 years I’ve worked most evenings until 11pm, or 1am, or even 3am depending on the shift.
When all the mums and dads I know were going home to make dinner, do bath times, and tuck the kids in, I’ve been heading out. It’s been so tough at times I won’t lie, I’ve walked to work crying with exhaustion and sadness because I just want to curl up on the sofa with my partner after a long day of play dates and running around the park.
Despite that, what we’ve gained is so much more important. For nearly 5 years my beautiful son has been my sole companion, dog-walks, bike rides, library, play dates, swimming, and all the boring stuff in between (it’s not all been rainbows and butterflies) but for almost 5 YEARS our day times have been ours and I’ll never regret sacrificing my evenings for those, no matter how tired I’ve been.
Today, My boy starts reception and it is a new era for both of us, an era where we are no longer continually in one another’s company, and an era where someone else (his teacher) is the main person who gets to spend the most time with him. He’ll love school because he has many friends there, he loves to learn and is so inquisitive and clever.
No matter what we will always have those years under our belt and I am so so grateful that we did. I can’t regret the time working in the evenings, in the same way that a full time working mum shouldn’t regret working during the day, and I’ll never regret putting his needs first before my own, even though I’m way behind career wise then the majority of my mum friends.
We are all juggling, doing our best regardless of when and where we choose to work.
Letting go is never easy and I could say I’ve been guilty of that over the years. It is now time for me to put me first and work “normal” working hours, and I genuinely can’t wait. I’ll still be able to do the school drop off but I won’t be the one picking him up every day, as his father and I will share.
Here it is, no more long lazy midweek breakfasts, strolling to the library, slush puppies in the park; lying in bed until 1pm reading books about sea animals and eating biscuits, meeting up friends and family during the week, shopping on a quiet Monday morning (actually I won’t miss the shopping, he hates it)
As I wave goodbye to him at the school gates, alongside all the other mums, dads and carers I’ll feel a sense of achievement because actually it’s the beginning of a new chapter, for both of us.