Work have just approved my request to permanently work 3 days a week. Sounds like heaven right, all that spare time?
Except, it’s never spare. I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life.
For starters, in my 3 days, I actually work 4 days worth of hours, because we need the money. So those three days are long and I am tired.
Usually, on a day off, I have a driving lesson scheduled while Kev’s parents pop round to mind the Squidgelet. (Yeah, I failed my second test, but argh, was so annoyingly close, so here’s hoping it’s third time lucky on May 10th) and as of right now, I’m sat in a coffee shop, on a day when I should be at home playing catch and watching endless Friends episodes with Squidge; (she loves the theme tune, she always dances to it, the beautiful little weirdo) writing notes for my uni essay. I’ll be here again tomorrow, taking annual leave from work to make sure I knuckle down.
I have so much to do to get me through to the end of the academic year that in fact, my usual two days a week at home with my girl will be reduced to just one for the next 3 months.
And that wrenches my gut, and makes me feel like the world’s worst person. I have a very hard time remembering that my beautiful daughter is part of a family unit and has grown up not needing to rely on me alone. That’s good for her but I make a little less sense whenever I’m not with her, like someone has ripped off my (good) arm.
Kev’s parents have her for us on a Sunday night so that we get some time to wind down together and they don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to collect her before we leave for work on a Monday. All perfectly logical, but I absolutely detest leaving her each week. She’s fine, having a blast getting out all her toys, but I just feel so lost.
Last weekend, sore and tired, I declared that I was going to bed at about 4pm. That wasn’t my intention, it’s just the only thought I can formulate when I’m sick and tired of a day and it associated pains. It’s best just to go to sleep, waking up on a new day and hoping against hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
I climbed the stairs and took Freddie Fox out of Squidge’s empty cot. Curled up in the nursing chair and that’s where Kev found me sobbing about how I “shouldn’t give my baby away” & how “I want her back!”
Kev asked why I was talking as if she was lost and I responded “She is. She doesn’t want me anymore. She doen’t even notice when I leave her.”
“Becaue she’s happy, Jo.”
“Why can’t I be happy? Why do I have to feel so useless and sore? I don’t want this to be all I can be for her, it’s not fair!”
And I finally voiced my worst, unavoidable fear:
“Was it selfish of me to have her?”
And my darling husband’s response was the kindet thing I’ve think I’ve ever heard said about myself. It’s stuck in my head and is strengthening my resolve to carry on with everything I am committed to, to show Squidge what her mummy can do.
“When Squidge understands everything you have and do put yourself through to be everything to her… you will be her hero. A person who, despite what the world dealt you, looked round and said: “F**k you world, I’m going to have what everyone else has got’. And you did it, Jo.’
He also said to me recently that no-one in the world could be meaner to me than me, which is why he always treats me kindly. But the idea that I can show our baby girl that she can have anything she wants in this world, that she herself is my own undeniable proof that it is possible, makes me feel amazing.
However many days I have to send holed up in coffee shops writing essays for the degree I am determined to earn for myself, I am still the person with the ability to teach Squidge one of life’s most valuable lessons.
I might just be another part time working mummy, although I’d argue that the struggles are somewhat different. And I may not be Squidge’s hero when she grows up. That’s OK. Because she will always be mine.