As the long summer days slowly draw shorter, and the light mornings are that little later in coming, so too is there a slow creep towards the end of my maternity leave. And with that imminence, comes the need to make a few tough decisions.
When I returned from 15 months travelling straight after my A’levels, I took a (very) temporary telesales job before taking a punt on a job in London. I never looked back – that was 15 years ago and I have worked in our glorious capital ever since. I have loved it on so many levels. The opportunities for after work socialising are boundless – from the pub literally over the road from my first job which we all, often as a collective, sometimes as splinter groups, frequented two, three, four times a week; to the fancy pants restaurants that being in decent jobs and child free occasionally afforded us in our early thirties. I love the history, the architecture, the famous bits and the unknown bits. I love sunny days by the river and wet days watching men in suits battle each other with oversized golf umbrellas.
But as is so often the case in life, things change. When Littly was born, I went back to work part time. I was on a timetable – nursery pickup. Bedtime. Sleepless nights and early mornings. I took less and less advantage of the good stuff, and began to resent the extra burden a commute loaded on to our already crammed lives. Then we moved further away. I was pregnant again. For three months it was up at 5:45 and home at 7. Littly in nursery for longer shifts than those of junior doctors. Socialising in pubs and restaurants? Not a frigging chance. And I hated it. I was hormonal and miserable. Tired, rushed and stressed.
So now what? Now we have two smalls, and the looming prospect of no more paid maternity leave? Well, in our case it meant some serious conversations. About what was best for us all as a family. What was going to make life work for us. Make it doable. Ensure we all still smile. And the conclusion? Last week I took the bull by the horns and resigned. Handed in my notice on a job that I had initially fallen in to but somehow, SOMEHOW, made a pretty decent go at. Managed to build a pretty good reputation. Managed to build a portfolio of clients and successful projects that I am pretty damn proud of.
And it was a tough decision to make, and an even tougher one to act on. Not because I think it is the wrong decision, or because I resent doing it in any way. The prospect of returning our family to the routine we had fallen in to pre maternity leave was without a doubt filling me (and no doubt MD) with dread. But because it signifies the closure of something. It signifies the decision to take a step away from someone I had grown in to. Worked damn hard at becoming. A world where I wasn’t “Mummy” who was needed to wipe a bum or deliver fishfingers. I was a professional, who’s opinion was sought and listened to, who was invited to meetings, attended working lunches and who offered solutions to issues more complex than the temporary loss of Bear.
Whilst it is not a complete step away from work (unfortunately as I haven’t married the creator of Snapchat I still need to contribute on some level to the household income) – I’ll be trying my luck by going freelance so that I can maintain a level of personal sanity, professional credibility and financial contribution, as I will be basing myself at the bottom of our stairs in the home office, London will no longer be my city. And for all her faults, her fickle nature and grey Mondays, I will miss her.