Wednesday, 25 March 2015

So I have this problem...

I can't quite believe it but my little girl has just celebrated her first half birthday, reaching the six month milestone. It is with very mixed emotions that I reflect on this occasion. The past six months have simply flown by. Six months of pregnancy seemed to drag on for an age but six months of a little life seem to have slipped through my fingers. We have come so far since those first few days. Tasks like changing a nappy, getting her dressed, bathing and settling her were once foreign concepts and yet are now second nature. In that time, she's developed from this tiny little thing with lots of hair into a strong, cheerful little girl who loves smiling at everyone, with not so much hair. Sometimes I wish I could just hit stop and savor it all.

However six months also means that I have to contemplate the dreaded task of heading back to work. I know I am not alone in this as lots of mums find themselves in similar positions. This makes it a little easier, but not much. As a teacher, I work on school terms. Initially I had considered heading back at the start of the year but in hindsight, I am incredibly grateful that things didn't work out. I managed to put it off until the start of Term 2. Unfortunately that is fast approaching. I really don't want to go back. I am so grateful for the time I have been able to spend at home with my little girl. I am grateful for the maternity leave provided by the government. I could go into a big rant about how I would like to see more support in place to enable a parent to stay home because I believe it is a huge investment in the future of our children...but I won't.

So here I am, contemplating heading back to work. Only part time time though thank goodness, one or two days would be enough. So far, nothing has panned out though so it's easy to talk about, but not so easy to make happen. I am not complaining too much. It would be great if I could just keep talking about it and pretend I'm really doing a lot to make it happen. Perhaps I could fool everyone and nothing would work out and I could stay at home...and some random relative I have never met could leave me an inheritance so I didn't have to go back. Sounds like a plan!

When I think about going back, when an opportunity actually arises that makes me have to confront the situation that I have so far avoided, I feel sick. Right down to my stomach. I just can't imagine anyone else looking after my little girl. And I can't make sense of the fact that I am leaving her to go back to work. I'm not career driven. As much as I love teaching, I am not itching to get back to it yet. I know everyone has different views on child care, careers etc., but for hubby and I, our priority is having one of us at home with her.  Going back to work for one or two days would simply be a way of enabling one of us to stay home with her for longer...but I just don't want to do it. I want to stay at home without having to work. I am not great at compromising!

So that is my current dilemma.

In the past week I have been challenged on my attitude. I love to complain about having to go back to work (as you may have noticed) but then I read a couple of articles about what some parents face in other parts of the world and I was reminded that things I find hard are nothing in comparison to what these parents face.

A human story from a devastated landscape introduced me to Alan and his family. Talk about hard work and determination, Alan meets all this and more. I am in awe of his determination and dedication to building a house for his family. He and his wife worked and worked and worked and didn't give up when it didn't happen quickly (as I would), and just when the end was in sight, they suffered the utter heart break of having it all destroyed in Cyclone Pam. I am sure that they will regather themselves and start again. I hope they receive a lot of help in the process. They had an amazing attitude to start with and I imagine that it will continue.

Then there is Nareen who I met in The forgotten Millions. Her baby, Rohit, is a similar age to my little girl, just a month younger, and yet she had to face the possibility that Rohit would die because they were stuck on a mountain in the middle of summer (which they had trekked four days to reach!), with no food and no water, surrounded by ISIS. Other babies did die. She was fortunate and her baby survived thanks to American airstrikes which enabled them to escape and the help of some doctors at the border.

I read these articles and wonder how people have the strength they do to keep surviving, and yet they do. Perhaps they do not take for granted everything I do? Perhaps they simply expect less than me?

Like I said, it puts my attitude into perspective. My problem is that I have to leave my daughter in the safe care of someone else so that I can go and earn some money, knowing I will be paid. How my priorities differ, because they can. I'm not saying that us in New Zealand, or anywhere in more well off countries, should be condemning ourselves for our lifestyles. That would be pointless and achieve very little. It is just good to appreciate what we have, what I have. To recognise that the things I, or others, find tough might be tough, but really they could be so much worse. To remember that there are a lot of people out there who are really struggling, and I mean really struggling, and do what we can help them.

I know I take for granted what we have in NZ. I get frustrated at the lack of support available to help parents stay at home and care for their littlies (as mentioned earlier), or the small amount of maternity leave available...and yes, in some ways these are valid issues  because we live in a society where we need to survive in our own surroundings and conditions, but at the same time, I should be incredibly grateful for the fact that if I run out of food, I can go and get a food package, if I am desperately lacking in funds, I can get help from the government, that I do get some paid maternity leave, that I have a clean and safe hospital (or other birthing places) to have my baby, that I have Plunket to check on the health of my baby and give me advice, that I have a solid roof over my head, clothes to wear, blankets to keep me warm. I have all this and more. I might not have everything I want but I really have so much more than I truly need.

So yes I face the problem of having to go back to work...and as much as I would love this problem to disappear I don't think it will...but at the end of the day, my little problem is a first world problem, not really that much of a hardship in the great scheme of things and really, I am thankful that this is the biggest problem I face currently.

Would love to hear your thoughts...or problems you are currently facing.

If you would like to help people like Alan and Nareen you can donate through many avenues but here are just a couple.

Cyclone Pam Appeal
The Forgotten Millions: the Children of Syria Crisis


  1. A lovely reflection on how lucky we are in NZ. Sorry that you have these big choices to make though. Hope you find the right work/care situation for you and your lovely girl. :)

    1. Thanks for the comment Max, yip we really are lucky in NZ. I'm sure something will work out, feeling more positive about it today already :-)

  2. A dilemma many of us face at some point Trish. It is tough getting your head around someone else taking care of your baby as you KNOW no-one will do it quite like you do and you worry, worry, worry, but be strong. She'll be alright. Welcome to Mommyhood where the guilt is never ending but the joys are absolutely amazing! Angela aka

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement chocolategoose :-)