I am a grumpy, stressed out, emotional mummy.
Returning to work was not supposed to be this way. “You will be supported” said the university through which I am doing a work placement for 4 months. “It is only part time, less than 15 hours a week, you’ll be fine” they said.
Well I am not fine!
Full of enthusiasm and excitement on my first 2 days, to then be in total despair by the end of day 3 when the school phoned to say I hadn’t collected my son. Now I am not entirely to blame as I did not receive the notifications that my son’s afterschool activity was not running on that day. However, I totally blame myself. My son was sat in the reception area of the school for nearly 45 minutes, waiting for his mum who just couldn’t get her shit together in the very first week of returning to work. “Don’t worry mum” said my 6 year old little darling. I have no idea what I would do without this amazing little boy in my life! He is so much wiser than his years and I sometimes wonder who is the parent and who is the child!
The expectations my placement have of me are clearly much higher than what I can achieve at this present time. This is a very unfair process to have to go through. Humiliating in fact. I was expecting support and guidance to build my confidence but instead it has had the opposite effect. This meaning, I have my head constantly in the books, researching and completing hours and hours of extra E-Learning. Which in turn, means that my son is having a lot of screen time, overloading on sugar and missing out on quality time with his mummy. Although, he is more than happy to watch Horrid Henry (which is usually banned) and eat copious amounts of sweets whilst I just take 5 more minutes to finish up. 4 episodes later ……..
The reality of returning to work is enormous. Practically, I have one pair of hands. I cannot be in 2 places at once. Breakfast club starts at 8.20am, my placement starts at 8.30am! My son has never caused a fuss about going because he knows he has to. But I know he doesn’t want to go. He eats breakfast at home and every time we go to breakfast club he says that he will just have a sip of apple juice or water. I know then that he will just have to sit on the floor for the next 30 minutes before school starts. The guilt is too much sometimes. I watched him for the first couple of times. My heart bursting with pride as he went up to the counter, asked for a drink and then found an empty seat amongst the very busy tables of children he didn’t know. I would have been nervous! But Rory, as with everything, just gets on with it.
As a single parent, I cannot always do the placement times. Sometimes I need to start late and finish early. If my son is poorly or has an appointment, I need to be there for him. Even though my son’s father has parental responsibility, he has made it very clear that this responsibility does not extend to out of arranged child contact hours.
Just this week, I have become totally overwhelmed by the emotional toll that returning to work has taken. I missed out on seeing my son do his Tae-Kwondo grading. This upset me greatly. Usually the optimist, I have been ready to throw the towel in several times. My head is screaming out that “I can’t do this”, “You’re crap”, “You don’t know anything”, “You shouldn’t be doing this”.
Why am I doing it? I ask myself this question over and over again. I’m not happy. I’m very stressed and missing out on precious time with my boy. But it is a means to an end. I am desperately trying to better mine and Rory’s life. To break free from the cycle of benefits. To break free from ‘recovering from cancer’. But I think that is one of my biggest issues. Being diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago and the gruelling treatment regime that followed, has had a huge impact on how I see myself and what I am capable of doing. My brain does not function the same. I find it difficult to recall and retain information. Perhaps I am just not ready. Has it all been a huge mistake?
On reflection, I have been to hell and back. I thought I was going to die when I had Breast Cancer. I thought my son was going to grow up without knowing his mummy. I have been to the deepest and darkest places no one could ever imagine. I have survived single parenting not only through cancer but through devastating and traumatic parental conflict, which continues frequently.
So for anyone who doesn’t think I’ve got it in me to return to work, you are wrong. It might take me somewhat longer, but I will get there. I am stubborn. I am determined. When I am knocked down, I get back up. I am a Murphy after all!
My parents, once again come to my rescue! My dad is coming next week, in-between his chemotherapy treatment cycles to help with Rory. Unfortunately he also has to come back the following week as I got my dates mixed up (no surprise there!). Must get the San Miguel in! My mum has already done her time with us!
I have the upmost respect for single parents doing it all alone. And those single parents who have more than one child, are my absolute hero’s! The support I have received from single parenting networks, has got me through this very difficult time.
This is not how I thought it would be. I had an unrealistic view of sailing through this short course, getting a job and living happily ever after. It is tough. But so is life. I will get there and when I do, Rory and I will be going on our first celebratory camp of the year!
Returning to work after any absence can be a daunting prospect. I have doubted myself numerous times. I have cried a lot. I have just wanted to crawl under my duvet and stay there. My anxiety is back with a vengeance. But no one is going to tell me I can’t do something. No one is going to tell me I am not good enough.
I CAN AND I WILL
Thank you for all of your support xxxxx
But the biggest thank you goes to Rory. He has hugged me, wiped my tears, understood, and is just the world’s best kid. Proud does not even come close! Thank you my amazing boy xxxxx