Reason 1: It's very close to Europe, so we can go on holiday to Barcelona with only a two hour plane flight. Well, theoretically. We have only done it once, and J's work was paying (conference = holiday, right?) We had hoped to do it again two weeks ago, but a Spanish visa for an Ethiopian bebe turned out to be harder to procure than we had hoped. Boo. So instead (and here's reason 2) we just went for a two hour drive and got to go on holiday here instead:
Okay, not this actual place (this is Leeds Castle, which is nowhere near Leeds, for reasons that I would probably understand much better if I had bothered to read the guide book) but close enough to spend the day visiting. It was nice. There is nowhere like that in Australia.
Reason 3: Having returned from a holiday that was, as I said, less than two hours drive away, people asked - with totally straight faces- what the weather had been like there. I've been here nearly ten years, but continue to enjoy this part of British culture - weather is taken very seriously. It can be dissected and predicted for hours at a time. I once shared a house with a girl who liked having the smaller bedroom in that house because the window faced onto a busy street. Reason? It let her see what weight of clothing people were wearing that day in response to the weather outside, and helped her to make a more informed decision about what level of waterproofing she was going to require. I'm not making that up. If you value your life, here, you do NOT talk during the weather forecast. I like that.
Reason 4: We get royal weddings! Hard-bitten cynic I may be, but there is enough of the five year old girl left inside to squee just a teensy bit about this. She's going to be a REAL LIVE PRINCESS! Come on. That's fabulous. (And speaking of five year old girls... you've all seen Lori's latest post, haven't you? If not, go! )
Reason 5: Employers are legally required to provide 12 months of maternity / adoption leave. Really - 12 whole months. I know. And because mine couldn't actually start until the babies were in the UK, I've actually had 15 months. Fifteen months. Fifteen whole months off work. I know how lucky I am.
Really, I do.
But it turns out that even 15 months off work isn't actually infinity. I thought it was, but it's not. And mine is over. I know that if I complain (fifteen months!) you are all going to throw things at me (well, at your screen) so I'm not complaining. But I'm going to be honest and say that I feel sad, so sad about going back to work. And here's where you might want to throw things even more - I'm only going back two days a week, and J is going to be looking after the babies on those days. So my sadness has nothing to do with them. They will be fine, and more than fine. They like me, but they totally adore their father. Two days a week of Daddy's house of fun is going to be the best thing that ever happened to them. But dangit, I don't want to go!
Often, before I had children, people would say things like 'oh, motherhood is the hardest job in the world' and I would say 'uh huh!' and smile brightly, but I was always thinking 'you know what else is hard work, lady? WORK! Work is hard work!' and I still think that is true. I don't want to get into the whole "better than / more rewarding than/ less boring than / more fulfilling than / less likely to result in therapy than" discussion, because I think it's pretty fruitless. Paid work and full-time motherhood both have advantages, but choosing either means choosing a certain set of losses, too. I know that if I could pick, I would rather stay home, at least for another few years. But if I don't take my job back now, when they are legally obliged to give it to me, I'd never get another part-time job in my sector. Ever. And J wants to be with the babies, too. I don't own them. He has a long commute, which means when he's working full time he gets home from his job after they are in bed each night. This new arrangement is going to be so much better for the three of them. My head knows that.
And have I mentioned that on the days I'm working, they're going to be with their father? So really, there is no reason at all for me to be concerned about them. At all. And in a way, that kind of stinks because frankly, I want to be able to project my fears and anxiety onto something. I want to convince myself that all my heartache and paranoia is about them, rather than the prosaic truth which is that it is all about me. It's about me. It's just about me. I don't want to leave them. (Well, I do, but only to go and see a movie, or try on shoes. Not to work). I don't want to say goodbye in the mornings. And then when I get to work, I'm worried that I will have forgotten how to be a grownup. I'm worried that I will belch in the middle of a silence, forgetting that isn't appropriate office behaviour and nobody is going to giggle. I'm worried that I won't be able to solve any of my daily problems by singing or dancing. I'm worried that I'll be stupid and slow. I'm worried that I will have forgotten how to concentrate for more than ten minutes at a time. I'm worried that one day someone will ask me to produce some income / expenditure ratios and I'll say "No! And do you know why? Because I don't care".
But mostly, I'm worried that they wont' be all mine anymore. They will do things, and I won't be there. They are both right on the cusp of walking, the cusp of talking. I just assumed I would be the one who saw those firsts. And even when it's my husband who will get to see them instead, I still wish it was me.
It hasn't been an easy year, especially the last few months - September, October and November kicked my butt pretty comprehensively. But it was my year, and I'm going to miss it. And so today was the last day that they were all mine. And it reminds me that one day they are going to leave home, and get married and stuff. I know I should be philosophical about this, but I'm not. I just want to squinch them tight forever and keep them safe. I want them always to greet me in the morning by whistling. I want to always be able to tuck them in. I want them to stay snuggly and tiny and they won't. And I know that's okay. But today, it makes me feel sad.