I like my job. I know it’s seemingly taboo to say that as a mother, but here it is again. I like my job. I enjoy it. I work reception on a maternity ward and I like it. I like my colleagues and the job itself isn’t too taxing. I can see me staying here. I only work three days a week due to working twelve hour shifts – those can be hard but in general I enjoy them. I like my time out of the house. Sometimes it’s hard to be away from Eden, but we drive each other nuts if we’re together 100% of the time.
Something I’ve realised in the last couple of months is that it is actually not possible to be a mother and work. It’s not. Nothing about it works.
Before recently, Amy’s sister looked after Eden for us whilst Amy and I worked. She’s now caring for Amy’s terminally ill grandmother, so it makes sense that small children and end of life care do not go hand in hand. We made it work for as long as we could but there comes a point where caring for someone who is terminally ill becomes all consuming and we reached that point.
Then what? I looked into childminders/nurseries. We’d need someone before 6am sometimes. Not possible. Or it IS possible, but it’s extortionately expensive. We’re not big wage earners. I’m an administrator in the NHS and Amy works in transport. We’re not rolling in money. If we arranged childcare through a registered childminder, there would be absolutely no point me going to work as I’d be being paid about £2 per hour after childcare. I like my job, but I’m not doing it for £2 per hour. Even after childcare vouchers I’d still be working for about £3 an hour. Amy’s wages pay our bills.
So, we each spoke to our workplaces and moved things around as much as we could. Well… Amy did. My workplace are about as flexible as a steel door. Amy’s dad and stepmum help out where they can – although they’re some ridiculous distance away so that’s no more than once or twice a week. My family are some almost 200 miles away, so it’s not reasonable for them to help on a day to day basis. We’ve used annual leave. We’ve used some unpaid days. The thing about unpaid days is that they’re unpaid, so I should not have been surprised when my wages were down £300… but I was.
I don’t know what I expect here. It’s reasonable that work don’t pay for time off for childcare reasons. Although, is it? Shouldn’t there be something to help parents with breakdown of childcare situations? Shouldn’t there be some kind of help scheme? Some kind of something that can be done? Some kind of bloody wiggle room? I’m not taking these days for fun.
It;s ridiculous. We tried to hard to have Eden and wished for her for so long. She is the absolute light of my life; she really is. But I feel like we are failing her. I feel like we are passing her from pillar to post. I feel like we are not doing the best for her. And that doesn’t feel good. Amy and I are at absolute breaking point at the moment and I just don’t feel like it’s going to get any better any time soon.
It just sucks. It absolutely sucks. Parents shouldn’t have to choose. But we do. And it’s shit.