“We’re women! We can do it all!” Can we? Should we have to?
Before Ayaan was born I believed I could do it all. I wanted so much to be a mother and I didn’t want to give up my career.
I work with my dad which gives me the luxury to take Ayaan to work with me. I can set up a little play area for him where he can keep himself busy and take his naps, I have the privacy of my own office to feed him and when he is playing or napping I can take care of business. I can do it all. It wasn’t until I tried to go back to work that I realised how disillusioned I was.
We flew back to Malawi when Ayaan was five weeks old. I went into work the next day. It was my first time out with him alone – it was daunting but it went better than I expected. Initially, the plan was to only go in, in the mornings and be home in the afternoons. I could plan all my appointments and save the admin work to do from home. I got this!
Reality hit. When we were at work Ayaan would rarely nap. He is a light sleeper so everything would wake him up. He played by himself for all of ten minutes and then would get cranky. I was so sleep deprived my body was functioning on autopilot and I couldn’t concentrate on work. I would go into work every Monday but I would tire myself out so much I would be exhausted for the rest of the week.
I was being unfair to myself and to Ayaan by not giving either of us the rest we needed.
For now I want to be a stay at home mum. There is no pressure to return to work, but I struggle with internalised guilt because I don’t want to let my dad down. We want more children and I would like to stay at home with all of them. I love working too. I hope I will find a balance soon.
Being a mother is hard – definitely my most difficult role. I don’t know when I will be ready to go back to work but when I do I want it to be on terms I am comfortable with. I haven’t quite figured out what those terms are yet. Maybe that is the first step.
I’ve learnt that I can’t do it all – I’m still learning that I shouldn’t have to do it all.