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'I love my son, but I hate being a stay at home mum.'

Hi, my name is Sara and I am a new parent. Charlie, my son, is swiftly approaching his first birthday.

He was born at a healthy (huge) 10 pounds 2 ounces at 38 weeks. The first six weeks all melted together into a blur of identity dysmorphia, sleep deprivation and heart exploding, unimaginable love. As the days went by, normality (or my new normal) started to resume, and my maternity leave was in full swing.

But are you ready for it? Are you ready for the controversy? I hated being at home.

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The internal battle I had within myself trying to be a stay-at-home mum was violent. Why didn’t I like to bake? Or clean? Or cook dinner? Why didn’t I enjoy grocery shopping or walking around Big W on a Wednesday at 9.30am? At the time, it felt like everyone had romanticised the dream of being on maternity leave and I felt like I was in a recurrent nightmare.

I would run errands, I tried going on coffee dates and took Charlie to swimming lessons but the moment those activities were over; I was the same lonely mum who just needed more. I remember expressing these feelings to another mother one day and being told, 'Surely there are more TV shows and movies you can watch'.

I fully support any mother that wants to stay at home but that was just not me. I feel like I have failed to fit into the mother mould.

I needed to go back to work. I longed to be at work, teaching (I'm a high school teacher), being out of the house and can I even say? Not being with my son, 24/7. It felt so wrong to crave time to myself and to crave work over being 'what a mum should be'.

After lots of tears and chats with my husband about not being a bad mum, I started to reach out to my village. My village of kick arse women of all different types. I learnt something shocking, so many people felt the same way I did.

So... why does no one talk about it? Why does it feel so awful to say, "I want to work, I need space from my child, doing something for myself makes me a better mum."

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I heard all of these words privately but never read or heard them publicly.

When Charlie was four and a half months old, I enrolled him in day care for one day a week, and I returned to work on a one day a week basis. And I started to feel like myself again. I would finish the day and rush to day care to pick him up and just hold him because... I love my child. I love being a mum.

I have since returned to work three days a week. My husband does the day care morning drop off, I get to eat breakfast and shower by myself. I put on make-up, a nice dress and do my hair. I casually cruise to work, stopping off for a coffee on the way. I arrive, have adult conversation, laugh, eat lunch without interruption and stimulate my brain with teaching (it might sound weird, but I’m addicted to it).

I fill my cup with everything I need to feel content and then I pick up my cheeky, happy baby boy from day care where he is fed, loved and educated. His cup is full, my cup is full, and we have the best time when it is mummy and Charlie days because I am a happier person therefore making me a happier mum.

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In a recent article on Mamamia, Mary Rose Madigan discusses her desire for children but her right to have balance. 

The concept of being a wonderful mum but not being the primary carer giving. 

I salute you Mary. I can say right here and now, I am a wonderful mum, and I share the care giving with my husband.

Some days, I am the primary caregiver and other days I’m not.

I think it’s time to start changing the conversation. Welcome to the 21st century where men are active participants in the parenting process and women like to go to work. 

It’s happening all around us, so let’s stop the guilt mongering that infects our society with hushed conversations, just in earshot, of what mothers 'should' and 'shouldn’t' do. And let’s start celebrating the fact that the term 'mum' can be whatever identity you want it to be.

Sara-Jayne Rogers is a British-born mum of one and high school teacher with a passion for writing and continual learning.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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