No, I'm not planning to drop my (considerably more expansive post-children) knickers and go on the game (it's not an issue of morals; the pension plan just doesn't measure up to the public sector) but I do need to re-join the rat race. I left work in 2006 when, six months into my first pregnancy, my waters unexpectedly broke, and I haven't been back since. I merged seamlessly from one maternity leave to another, having my children in batches, like a hamster. Two and a half years on the coffers are empty, and unless we want to teach the kids early on how to fend off the bailiffs, it's time to go out and earn some cash.
I recall an early encounter at baby group, where I casually dropped into conversation my plans to work full-time. Silence descended upon the group. An icy wind blew across my nipple shields, then the entire roomful of mothers let out a collective gasp, clutching their babies tight to their bosoms as though I had just announced my intention to microwave my baby. And eat it.
"Full time!" one exclaimed, "oh you poor thing!"
It may have been my imagination, but I swear she glanced at the soles of my shoes to check for holes. There is nothing a Cotswold stay-at-home mother likes better than a genuine Poor Family to get her teeth into; food parcels (from Daylesford, of course), hand-me-down baby clothes (cashmere - hand wash only, because that's practical), and a feeling of well-being to share with her NCT group ("she's terribly poor, but frightfully amusing")
"No, you mis-understand", I countered, "I want to go back. I have a career. I enjoy it".
Cotswold Mother looked blankly at me. It was never going to work. I gathered up my swathes of muslins and left (for other mothers, muslins are a decorative accessory; for me, an essential weapon against the endless streams of bodily fluids my children produce. I have never understood this).
In recent months my desire to get back in the corporate saddle has less to do with picking up my flagging career, and more to do with the more prosaic aspects of life. I dream of drinking a cup of tea without the need to explain to my colleages that it's "hot, hot, hot!" Conducting a telephone meeting without hissing "mummy's talking" at the tribe of pygmies following me from room to room. Reading a report sitting in a real chair, at a real desk, instead of having to retreat to the locked toilet, simply to finish a chapter of a book I started while I was still pregnant. The first time.
I can't wait to brief my team without the need to impersonate a CBeebies presenter on acid. But most of all I am looking forward to being able to go to the toilet without someone sitting on my lap. At least, I assume that'll be possible - unless things have seriously changed in the last three years. I must check with Personnel...
This post was written by More than just a mother, who resides in Oxfordshire, and juggles a full-time job, three children in nappies, and a husband. She is new to blogging and loves it.
Photo credit: imashin