Monday, May 26, 2014

A different life

Its come to my attention through a series of conversations recently that my Mum and I have done things the opposite way around to a lot of my friends families.

I thought it was normal. Well, to be honest, I never really thought about it till Mark and I got together and I discovered his family had been different. I still never thought we were that unique, till I got talking to a whole pile of friends.

And what was different? Mum went back to work full-time when I was little (somewhere around six months I gather). Turns out that most of my friends parents didn't work when they were little.

Thinking about it, that makes sense. Because daycare didn't really exist, and nannies were few and far between. Kindy wasn't an option till you were three (and even then it was only half days). The only ways to do it were private childcare (nannies and babysitters) or family members who weren't working.

And its interesting, because I've been agonising over the fact that I've not had a job to go back to (and so am not contributing financially to the household), while my friends who had at-home mums when they were little are all agonising over the fact they have to go back to work and dont get to spend as much time with their babies.

One of the reasons this never occured to me when I was younger was that my parents shift-worked - for my whole life till I was at university. Technically Dad still does. So we had babysitters regularly, but Mum and Dad were also often available during the day to be parent help on outings, where my friends parents weren't because they worked. And so I never thought about what had happened when we were younger.

And hearing some of that generation talk about their days as parents to young children recently, I think they had it pretty good in a way. Because most of their friends with similar age kids also didn't work, so I've heard stories of going from Kindy to a catchup and tupperware parties every other week. They weren't as socially isolated as parents. It was easier to organise multiple catchups with people because everyone had free time during most days of the week.

There are 4 of the 12 mums in my antenatal group who aren't back at work - one who is planning not to, and the other two have twins, so are taking longer maternity leave before making a firm decision. And me. And even trying to catch up with those lovely ladies is hard work by the time all the activities the different family groups do (and nap times) are taken into consideration. The plunket-based new-mums group I joined last year has fallen apart as well, since pretty much everyone has gone back to work. My playcentre-based SPACE group has managed two catchups since we wrapped up before Christmas.

So, while parenting has enabled me to meet loads of awesome new people, its also limiting. Socialising outside of mum-groups is hard to organise as well. I added up my socialising time, and got an average of about 5 hours a week in which I get some chance to interact with other adults other than Mark (which includes LJs swimming lessons, antenatal group catch-ups, playgroup and seeing my parents). No wonder I've largely stopped talking, and no wonder this blog has fallen away a lot - I dont tend to have a lot to say, having spent so long alone in my head!


Kelly Warriner-Simpson said...

You are contributing to your household. You are saving your family the $300+ a week that you would be spending on childcare with you working. I won't be going back to work until J is 3 and starts getting the subsidy for ECE

Becoming Supermommy said...

I'm jealous! I haven't hardly met anyone else with kids since I became a parent... almost five years ago. I have three now, and the only other moms I know are people who jumped on the baby bandwagon later. I feel almost constantly alone, but it's also not feasible for me to go back to "work" until they're all in school.

Life is hard, yo. :P