Baby Family Motherhood Pregnancy Working Mum

On finishing work {Little Bump and Me}



On Monday afternoon I took down my calendar, my photos of the girls, the card my senior partner sent me last autumn to mark, well let’s just call it a really long time with the firm, unearthed a Christmas card from underneath my telephone and packed them all in my bags along with my work shoes, the random detritus of working life that accumulate in the back of a desk drawer, and a few of my textbooks that linger on my shelves as a bastion against progress.  My work paperwork, the big sturdy holepunch that has a big CARIE sticker on it, and the stapler that says CATH all went in a document box to spend the next year gathering dust on the top of one of our bookcases, and my files were handed over to colleagues who received them with increasing looks of woe and panic.

And then I left to catch my train home.

And that was it.  Well sort of.  I kind of have a Blackberry that picks up work emails and I did give it a glance on Tuesday just to check that there wasn’t anything important and forward a couple of things on to the right people.

But technically I’ve finished work for a year, give or take a few months, and even in reality I know I’ll stop checking email and the Blackberry will be allowed to run out of battery and tucked away with its charger until next year.

And it feels really strange.

I don’t know why it should; I have done this twice before; two lots of handover notes, two lots of deciding who is best placed to run my files; two lots of emptying my desk and walking away; and yet I just can’t quite get my head around the idea that I’m not just taking a week’s annual leave for a well deserved rest, and I’ll be back before I know it.

Well the latter at least is probably true.

I’ve always tried to live by the concept that my profession is what I do, it is not what I am, but while I think that is an important distinction to hold on to, in that I am not, nor have I ever been, just my job (I’m a wife, a mother, a writer, a photographer, a creator, a woman of faith, a lover of cake, a recent convert to the merits of the German football team, and so many other things as well), I think it is disingenious to pretend that it is not a part of what makes me me.

And perhaps it is that, combined with the sudden stop, that can make it all feel so strange.  I’m lucky enough to have a job that for the most part I enjoy and that I’m good at.  And it takes up three days and a whole heap of other odd minutes, snatches of dreams and random moments of clarity over the washing up every week.  I knit a lot less than that and if I suddenly stopped knitting for a year I think that would seem more than bizarre, although for the record, I like knitting more, even in this crazy sauna heat!

There’s a concept in the world of Unschooling (which fascinates me even though I’m not sure I’d ever choose it for the girls) which says that when your children have been at school, and you decide to take them out of school and use Unschooling for their learning, you first have to do Deschooling; you have to get the schoolishness out of their system, trusting that the good bits of formalised schooling will stay there, and letting the child find their interests, find their drive and passion for learning again.

I think that might be what’s needed for the start of any maternity leave, particularly for anyone coming out of a high pressure or high profile job; a period of De-working.  So that’s what I’m going to try to do this week; de-work.

If it largely looks like taking it easy, doing a lot of sitting and knitting and thinking, well that’s probably what I need; a little time to think about the big things and the little things; to consciously let go of my caseload, to find the rhythm of days at home and to start to think and plan properly for this baby’s arrival, and then next week I can do all the crazy nesting things like cleaning out the car, and spending an entire day with H trying to make our studio useable, and having my sister come and visit and sort baby clothes.

Next week.  Just please baby, mind and stay put until then OK?

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  • Eline @ Pasta & Patchwork 17/07/2014 at 11:05 am

    I know exactly what you mean about de-working. I was happy when I stopped working because I was so tired and huge, but on the very first day of leave I was still running around like a nutter. Haircut, meeting, another meeting, antenatal group. It took a while until I really let go of the feeling that I HAD to be somewhere or do something. Until, of course, the baby arrived and there was no room in my brain for anything else anyway! hope the little one stays put for a little longer for you.

    • Carie 17/07/2014 at 9:58 pm

      There’s definitely a list lurking in my head of things I ought to get done before the baby arrives, but I know if I try to get to it all I’ll be shattered before we’ve even started! It is nice though to be able to give everything family my undivided attention for a while!

  • Ivona 17/07/2014 at 1:06 pm

    You should take this time to relax – this is what everybody says but as a mothers we have so much going on in our heads, plans to do so many thing and places to go before the baby arrives. I think that when you finish working that in it self feels like you’re on vacation no mere what you do. I worked until my 9th month and had only 1 week before my baby(now 7) arrived and I was running like crazy but still it felt like I was relaxing.

    • Carie 17/07/2014 at 10:11 pm

      Well that’s the plan – we’ll see how much I can keep up the relaxing before the nesting kicks in!

  • Molly 17/07/2014 at 6:55 pm

    I can SO relate to this post. Although this time around I’m self-employed and so only officially taking 2 months off work, when I had F I was in an employed role and left for a maternity leave that I never ended up returning to. Although I was happy and excited to have my baby and more than ready to leave the job, it felt odd. I felt a bit lost for a bit and struggled with my identity a bit too – so much of who I’d been before seemed tied up in my work. These days I have the balance much clearer – I think those 4 years have made all the difference – but I still find the idea of not working at ALL for a whole year (or 2 months in my case!) a bit… weird. I don’t know why. It’s not like I live to work or anything. It’s just so entrenched in what I do every day that it would need a whole heap of adjustment to stop. Great post – thank you for linking it up to this week’s #BlogBumpClub. x

    • Carie 17/07/2014 at 10:14 pm

      I think that’s it, it’s just such a part of the daily rhythm of life that it takes a while to unwind it all!

  • Angela Tobin 17/07/2014 at 11:30 pm

    A great post! Love the idea of de-working for a bit first. I am finishing in 2 weeks time and although I’m excited it is very strange. A whole year off!

    Enjoy your resting, and nesting!

    • Carie 18/07/2014 at 5:55 am

      Two weeks and counting! Yay – I hope you get a bit of time for de-working too!

  • Rachel (@Parenthoodhighs) 18/07/2014 at 2:18 pm

    Can definitely identify with this. I taught as a primary teacher up until 36 weeks with both kids, and found it really strange to begin with. Mt first came less than a week later so I didn’t get much chance to unwind. With the second i unwound so much I never went back and have been a sahm ever since!

    • Carie 18/07/2014 at 9:47 pm

      Oh goodness I can’t imagine only having a week to unwind – happily my two have always been on the overdue side so I get a bit of time to unwind and then a bit of time to do all the manic cleaning – and then if I’m really lucky, enough time to get grumpy about their being overdue!

  • ohsogawjess 19/07/2014 at 2:13 pm

    This will be me in 9 weeks and, like you, I’m not sure how I feel about it all!


    • Carie 21/07/2014 at 9:49 pm

      Oh I think it’s going to creep up on you before you know where you are – so far it’s been pretty good though!

  • sally 19/07/2014 at 6:17 pm

    And did you actually manage to take it easy?! Hope so!

    • Carie 21/07/2014 at 10:06 pm

      Hmmmm! I’m working on it! I did manage a trip to the inlaws which involved sitting on a patio eating scrambled eggs!

  • Bex @ The Mummy Adventure 19/07/2014 at 11:34 pm

    I never really had a chance to do this with my two as I worked so close to their birth that there wasn’t really a period in the middle (literally under 12 hours between finishing work and giving birth!) but I do think it is important to take some time in the middle and I hope you enjoy it x

    • Carie 21/07/2014 at 10:23 pm

      Wow – I’m wildly impressed; I’m too big and too uncomfy commuting now, I’m really glad I’m not sitting on a train each day any more!

  • Melaina25 20/07/2014 at 9:14 am

    Maternity leave this time will be so different for me; last time I was employed in an office so I got 90% pay, etc. This time I’m a contractor—I’m entitled to nothing except maybe SMP.

    ❤Transatlantic Blonde: 29 Weeks❤

    • Carie 21/07/2014 at 10:26 pm

      Oh goodness that would make a massive difference – and not just in the finances but in how it feels too. Hopefully the positives of being a contractor will outweigh the down sides.

  • ghostwritermummy 22/07/2014 at 8:57 am

    Enjoy your maternity leave! I am so jealous- I work for myself and cannot see much leave at all this time around. So do some knitting for me,ok?! x x

    • Carie 22/07/2014 at 9:43 pm

      Ok I promise! Although I’ve yet to do much for myself either – we’ve spent the last week running around with various family commitments; I need a nice day of just sitting I think!