Over the summer, I made the decision to return to work.
I quit my previous job two years ago to spend more time at home with my family and help my son settle in at school. Many people said I’d be bored within six months, but I was soon offered a part-time job with a local magazine that I could do from home and that stopped me from going completely stir crazy.
But, the hours I worked really only added up to one school-day a week so I spent a lot of time watching box-sets of The Good Wife and loading, unloading and reloading the dishwasher.
It was during one of those wash cycles that I realised I would load and unload the dishwasher again the next day and again the day after that; and then I stopped to ask myself – is this really my life now? Is this what I am going to do for all my days?
Well, probably yes, unless someone invents plates that clean themselves, but I wanted more.
I wanted a job.
Yet was I not already holding down the position of arguably the most important job in the world: Mother?
Surely there can be nothing more rewarding than caretaker to a 6-year-old and our family home?
I loved being able to walk my son to school every day and collect him every afternoon. It has been a privilege to be at home with him and spend our time together. I have also found it incredibly satisfying to focus so much of my physical, emotional and creative energy on him.
But at some point over the summer, it stopped being enough.
I missed having somewhere to go after the school run and chatting to grown-ups about things other than our children. I missed walking the streets of London and the hum of thousands of people collectively going about their day. I missed deli lunches and travelling skinny lattes. I even missed wearing my old work clothes. Well, the ones that still fit anyway.
Weeks were repeating themselves and seemed to collapse into each other. Some days I just felt desperately lonely.
However, what finally prompted me to do something was I needed a haircut and I did not want to ask my husband if we could afford it.
You see one of the downsides to this parenting gig is that you invest all of your heart, sweat and time into it, but the financial rewards are non-existent.
While I felt lucky not to have to juggle work and childcare on inset days or during the holidays, the fun adventures I planned for us did not always come free.
I needed a job. A job that took me outside of the home for a couple of days a week – one with a commute, colleagues and a monthly payday.
Being a mum, although hard work at times, has never felt like a job to me; and I have never treated it as one.
You do not clock in and out of mothering. It does not stop when he goes to sleep, and it will not end when he leaves home.
When I worked full-time and my son went to nursery, I was still parenting. And now when he is in school and I am not physically parenting him, I am still being a parent.
Everything I do in all the minutes we are together and all the minutes we are apart, are for him.
It is part of who I am. I mother him as instinctively as I breathe. Whether I spend my days working from home, in an office, or loading and unloading the dishwasher several times a day will never change that.
I start my new job today, and I have a haircut booked in for next week.