Have Baby, Must Work?
This shawl reminds me of so many things.
I bought it in Peshawar, in the bazaar, choosing it from among many brightly beckoning scarves that were tied to rods across the narrow path above our heads, flapping against our faces as we ambled through the alleyways, accosted on all sides by vendors of everything from cigarettes to towels and spicy fast foods.
That was thirty-one years ago.
And if I go back there today, it is not very different.
Soon after I bought this shawl, my older son Sami was born, and was swaddled in that scarf, the soft cotton gently folding him in security, as it did my daughter and youngest son later.
It covered me when I needed to breastfeed in school or in the hospital where I worked. It protected me when I had to be discrete, with my milk oozing, and had to use little cups to prevent the wetness from showing.
It was my head covering as well as the play dress for my daughter and her dolls.
And recently, it even became a turban for me, still retaining the softness of the cotton and the vibrancy of its pattern.
It reminds me so much of the early days when I had my children.
Working 10 hours and more, rushing home with expressed milk for the next day in a cool-jug, and eagerly reaching home to feed and cuddle the wee being I had left in the care of a Nanny, from twelve weeks after birth, and to play with my eager toddler who couldn’t wait for baby to be done and finished so he could have my full attention.
I see with joy the community in which I live now, and the lovely way in which families are able to get together and benefit from each other. The truth really is in the old saying:
‘It takes a village to raise a child’
And I see this being played out here where I am now, and makes me so wistful!
When I was a mother of three young children in UK, I was very isolated and not in a community. We did not have extended family and friends who could offer the wonderful range of young/old, gentle/acerbic, nurturing/challenging characters contained within a village who contribute to our children's development.
This is so often true of families in big impersonal cities, and those who go to another country to work and live.
When I look back, I often think if I could talk to my then-self, I would ask her many important questions.
Those questions are here. And if you are a working Mum, I encourage you to take a step back from yourself and just do a little check:
Is it absolutely essential for you to work, or for you to work full-time?
Would it really be a disaster if you only work part-time, especially when your little ones are very little?
Is the financial ‘need’ of the hour worth more than seeing your child develop and imbibe each day the love and nurture only you can give?
If you come to the conclusion that work is necessary, as I did too, then it takes all your creativity and organisation skills to keep juggling all those balls!
And when one or more fall, as they inevitably will do, be encouraged to pick them up and carry on, and find a way to spend as much time with your children as possible. It is so worth the 100% focus on your children when you are with them.
In my other post this week, I share some of the things I did to streamline the life of me and my family in those early days, of three children under five, and full time work - and to keep sane and smiling!
Are you a must-work mum? Let me know the things you do to optimise time with your children when you're home!