Back to work blues
Susan juggles motherhood and work as best as she can. One day at a time...
I am back at work. Let me put it another way. I am back at work – the horror the horror! After nearly five months of staring besottedly at Finn I've been yanked away from his precious little face and thrown into an office of organised grown ups who make intelligent conversation, have opinions and don't really give a dam about what Finn did or didn't do last night. I feel out of my depth. Mommyhood requires being in touch with your tender side, having endless patience and a slow approach to life. Career on the other hand demands an edginess, quick action and a solid front. It's not going to serve anyone to get all misted up in tears of empathy when your sales team don't deliver their targets.

Switching between these two modes in one day is a challenge. I come home from the office in the late afternoon all fired up ready to embrace my mommy role. 'Hello my precious!' I enthuse loudly at Finn. 'Let's play! Let's learn! Let's bond! Let us be mother and son!' But all Finn wants to do is kind of sit slumped in his chair, put his fist in his mouth and make odd gagging sounds.

So I've got to take a deep breath, sit down quietly and just be there next to him for as long as he needs me to. In the mornings I take a leisurely drive to work, smiling the tired but satisfied smile of motherhood. I walk into the office and am smacked by a host of queries, telephone calls and emails. Initially, it always feels like somewhat of an assault.

To be honest, it's not being back at work that's the problem. I enjoy my job. I also appreciate the people I work with who are creative and inspiring. In fact I hardly knew how much I loved either until I was forced into solitary with an infant for five months.

Separation anxiety
What is so desperately difficult is leaving Finn. I had my first cry about it a month before I was due back to work. 'It's not natural,' I sobbed in Roxi's arms. 'Mommies need to be with their babies.' Although there was little Roxi could do to console me, she did try. 'We should lobby,' she announced. What we should lobby about was not entirely evident. Although I presume it was to demand longer and better maternity benefits that would mean one of us could remain home at least for the first year of our child's life without having to downgrade to a bachelor flat in Vanrhynsdorp.

During my final week of maternity leave, Thandi The Nanny officially started her employment with us. On arrival, she picked Finn up and he gave her a broad smile. I had to restrain myself from flying across the room, wrestling him out of her arms and shouting "I'm The Mommy!". But now it's week two and things feel less heart sore. I am certain that what is easing my re-entery into the big wide world is that when Finn wakes up at lunchtime, Thandi gives me a missed call so I can quickly drive home and spend 45 minutes staring besottedly at him. Of course, if this doesn't continue to work, I might just take Roxi up on her idea and lobby – if I could only find the time.

Have you headed off to work this year leaving your precious little one at home? Are you battling with seperation anxiety? Share your stories in the comment box below.


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