|Image credit: Mr Lightman | FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
On New Year's Day last year I made a New Year's promise to you. I was on the verge of returning to work following my maternity leave but desperately didn't want to go back full-time. I didn't want to miss the time at home, the nursery drop-offs or impromptu visits to the park. I didn't want my time with you limited to a couple of hours a day during the week. Above all, I was worried that the closeness we had developed and embraced might weaken as a result of us spending less time together.
I won't lie to you. It hasn't been an easy transition from stay at home mum to my role as a full-time working mother once again. It was an emotional first day back in the (work) saddle for me and those first months were certainly dark days as I rode (and continue to ride) the work-life rollercoaster. Even now, the 'working mother's guilt' will creep over me from time-to-time and, even though I've tried to get flexible at work, it has still proven to be a struggle.
Sophia, I know you found it difficult at first; seeing me leave in the mornings only to return when it was nearing your bedtime. We would sit together and sob in each other's arms. But you have coped so well and those days now seem like a lifetime ago. You now think nothing of telling me to go away when I take you to your Nan's house in the mornings!
Dexter, the change was less significant for you. Being only 10-months-old you adapted to your new routine beautifully. You seem to take everything in your stride and are becoming a confident, cheeky, chatty little boy. Your vocabulary range continues to amaze me.
I am so proud of you both.
When I made my New Year's promise at the beginning of 2012, the year stretched far into the distance like a long, empty motorway. The path ahead lay shrouded in mist, making it hard to see clearly what could lie ahead, what we might need to overcome. There have been some tough times - getting used to our new life as a family with two full-time working parents and sadly seeing people that I've met pass away before their time - but there have been some great times too.
Dexter, 2012 saw you turn one-year-old. What a big beautiful boy you are getting!
And this links back to last year's promise. For last year I promised that I wanted to "do things differently". I knew I couldn't give up work altogether - I still can't - but I wanted to make some changes which would allow me to be at home more. I had originally planned to launch my own communications agency and become self-employed but, for one reason or another, that plan has had to be shelved for the time being. Despite that setback though, I still managed to lay some foundations of something that I hope will lead to change. I make this pledge to you both now that I will continue to build upon that which has already begun.
Back in September 2012, after around four months of lovingly developing it from scratch with my own bare hands (and laptop), I launched a new website aimed at supporting working parents - the very creatively named Working Parents United. I'm really proud of what I have achieved with it so far and I have plans to continue growing it. I will continue to chase a more flexible working pattern with my current employer but also have other ideas to 'bring home the bacon' which will hopefully enable me to earn a wage by working at home more. I won't bore you with the details - you are only three and one after all - but I want you to know that I'm focused on working hard to achieve more this year. It's the only way I can try to change my work-life balance for the better.
I can hear the wind of change whistling through the air toward me. I fully intend to embrace it and see where it chooses to take me. I don't know if things will work out the way I want them to or not but, if I don't try then I'll never know. And I'd rather try and fail than not try but forever wonder what could have been.
There will, of course, be a lot of hard work along the way, fitting in other projects around my day job. I have so many ideas and new things I want to try that I know I need to be picky and prioritise otherwise burn-out may beckon. But, I want you to know that I won't let it affect my time with both of you. You two are, and always will be, my absolute number one priority. Believe me when I tell you that will never, ever change.
Sophia and Dexter - I love you. As Bryan Adams might say, "Everything I do, I do it for you." You are my heart, my soul, my world.