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'I needed to find my identity again beyond "mother." That's the real reason I went back to work.'

This week I started back at work after almost a year at home with my second child.

I’ve done it before, so I thought I’d be more prepared this time around. Logistically I was – two kids’ bags packed the night before, clothes for the next day all laid out, lunches packed, instructions given multiple times to all interested and uninterested parties. But emotionally, I was still way off.

I wanted to go back to work. I NEEDED to go back to work. And yet, I couldn’t let her go.

Carrie Bickmore shares what it was like returning to work after having her daughter, Evie. Post continues below.

Video by MMC

As I scrambled out the door for my first day, my five-year-old son said “Good luck mum,” and I loved him even more. And then he said, “Now you’ll be making so much money you will be able to buy a thousand trampolines.”

I held back from trying to explain to him the high costs of childcare, Australia’s gender pay gap and the inequitable tax and transfer system for working mothers. Instead I hugged him tight and thought about the clothes I might add to my cart instead.

And then my baby looked at me with wondrous eyes that said; “Mum don’t leave me”, and I looked back at her with sorrowful eyes that said; “Darling, I don’t want to leave you at all, I hate that you are going off to childcare already, but I also need some time for me. I need to get out of the house and away from washing and cleaning and what some might describe as cooking.

“I need to use my brain and be challenged. I need to find my identity again beyond ‘mother’. I need to interact with people closer to my own age, who can talk and don’t throw their food or sh*t their pants five times a day. People who I can dissect the finer details of The Bachelor and The Block with. People who value my thoughts and opinions and coffee orders.

“I need to show you and your brother that a woman’s place is in the home, in the office, in the boardroom and on the centre bloody stage if she wants it to be. I need you both to see that it’s not just mum that does the drop offs and domestic duties, but dad too. That parenting is a shared responsibility.”

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And she looked back at me with proud and inspired eyes that said, “I get it mum, go get ‘em.” And then we fist pumped and I walked out the door… and burst into tears. Damn. And I wasn’t even the one doing the childcare drop off.

As I stood on the doorstep for a minute, wiping away tears and considering whether I could throw in the towel already and go back inside despite having just given my daughter that inspirational speech via ocular telepathy, I remembered a quote from the Persian poet Rumi: “that life is a balance between holding on and letting go,” and realised this is what motherhood is about.

I knew that it was time for her to head off to that cesspit of germs called childcare, and it was time I started running for the tram, because I was already late.

Simone is an actress, writer, mother and lawyer. She is an advocate for women’s rights, both in the workplace and home. Simone loves lollies, wine and Netflix. She wishes she were French and one day hopes to live in Summer Bay.

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