That word is rearing its ugly head around here lately.
I've had it pretty good really. I've been on either paid or unpaid maternity leave since November 2005, shortly before M was born. I'm very lucky really. I know that many women don't get any kind of paid maternity leave at all, and they certainly don't have their positions held for them for nearly 4 .5 years. I'm really lucky. But the time is coming for me to make a decision.
For a long time now I've been telling myself and my DH that I won't be returning to work at all. That there's no way they'd let me come back part-time. That it isn't possible for my position to be done part-time and they won't entertain a job-share situation. And there's no way that I'd want to go back on a full-time basis. So the plan all along had been to resign at some point this year and remain a stay-at-home-mum indefinitely. Probably at least until F heads off to school. That's at least another 3 years.
Only they threw a spanner in the works last week, by offering me a part-time position. Not my old position, but a new one that I could do on a part-time basis, at least until F was off to school. That's fine by me because I didn't necessarily want my "old" job back anyway. They are actually being really accommodating, which is nice, but a bit scary at the same time. Because now it looks like I'll be returning to work in May.
I've been on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions since this happened. On the one hand I feel a little excited at the thought of returning to paid employment, especially since the financial side of things will work out to be quite beneficial to us, and also because I feel as though I'm in a bit of a rut with the SAHM thing. Not the kids side of it, but the housework side. I'm becoming lazy and complacent because housework really isn't all that inspiring. And if I did resign and stay home, by the time I might be looking for work again I'll have been out of the work force for nearly 7 years. I suspect my chances of getting a job that is anything close to what my current job is and pays, is pretty slim. So this is also a chance for me to keep a foot in the door for the future.
But on the other hand I'm feeling incredibly guilty about the thought of having to put M and F into childcare and sending L to after-school care. It will only be two days out of every week. And the reality is that they'll only be in care approximately 11 days out of every month. That puts me at home with them 60% of the time. I know there are many kids out there that go to much more childcare than that, and many that don't get the amount of time at home with their parents that M and F have. But that doesn't stop it keeping me awake at night, feeling guilty about "abandoning" them so I can go to work.
There's even two childcare centres nearby that bus kids to the local kindergarten - where M is enrolled and has already been attending - so he won't even have to miss out on that experience. The only change for him will be that he'll go to the centre after a morning at kindy, instead of coming home. And of course F would go to the same centre, so they'd still be together in a sense. They are both very close, having been at home together with me all their lives so far.
Nothing is final at this point. I still need to make a final decision, but I have been sent the forms I need to get the ball rolling.
If I go ahead my first day back at work will be my birthday.
Now just to shake the guilty feelings and make the decision.