November 10th 2015
A personal story about giving my boy the only Christmas present he needs.
I handed in my notice at work today.
Apologies in advance for writing this long piece but I just want to say well done to all of you, for following your hearts, for making the sacrifices you have made (that have often gone un-noticed by others) and for being bold enough to follow your convictions about shunning paid employment in order to dedicate yourselves to your families.
It’s not the easy decision people think it is to “stay at home” with your family these days. It takes courage. Today I found that courage once again.
My story is shared here for the benefit of anyone who has ever felt the pressure to “go out to work”. To support all those asked time and time again “when” and not “if” you’d be going “back to work” after a new addition to your family.
But most of all I am sharing it for anyone who has ever wondered “am I doing the right thing?”
I questioned myself sometimes during the two and a half years I was home with my baby, but mainly I remained defiant that my place was with my child.
Then a job came up in a school. Part-time. In a school! “How could it go wrong?” I thought. “Surely this has to be a good opportunity”. So I applied and got the job. I negotiated the hours down as much as I could and felt truly lucky.
Then I realised how hard it is to drag a little one out of bed and leave him in tears at Nana’s, only to return 9 hours later. Or to sneak out of the house after his Granny arrives.
The turning point began when he started to say “Mummy see you later” to me repeatedly on my days off, obviously anxious about it. He also began to follow me every time I moved more than a few feet from him in the same room.
Then one day he closed his hands up tight in a ball. And didn’t open them again. Not for his favourite toy, not for an ice cream, nothing. I had to watch my son pick up his toys and his food between his clenched fists and repeatedly struggle not to drop it. This is now a daily battle. He sometimes wakes up with one or both hands working but if he becomes stressed or anxious, they shut and can’t be prized, teased or coerced open. It’s heartbreaking to watch him look at his own hands like foreign objects and then struggle all day to pick things up, play with toys, climb the slide. I only had to even think my going to work had something to do with this to know what to do.
So today I gave my boy the only Christmas present he really wants or needs. His mummy back.
Every one of you out there “at home” with your children, you are making such a difference to their lives. You may not even ever really know just how much of a difference.
So shun the doubters. Be strong. Be defiant. Be proud. Be *there*.