Tears rolled down my cheeks as I waved goodbye to Zephaniah as Aiden drove away with her in the back seat. Today was the day I went back to work full time
It had been exactly 18 weeks since I had my baby girl, 18 weeks of bonding, one on one time and being home alone together. She was my little side kick and my best friend.
I wasn’t meant to be going back to work full time, whilst I was pregnant Aiden and I decided that it would be best for me to go back to work part time therefore I wrote up a proposal to my employers requesting that I go part time when I returned from my maternity leave. After my proposal and a few weeks it was granted to me that I would go back to work part time Monday through to Wednesday on a 6 month contract then after 6 months they would review my contract in the hopes I would be ready to come back full time.
Fast forward, a month after Zephaniah was born and it became apparent that the maternity wage given out by the Australian Government was not enough for us to survive on as a small family. Maternity leave in Australia is 18 weeks paid leave on the minimum wage which is $598 per week after tax. Yes that may be a decent amount to some people or most people however for our household it wasn’t enough even with Aidens weekly wage thrown in the mix. The thing is when you work your way up in your job you tend to earn a better wage because you put in the hard yards and that is recognised therefore your wage is increased and this was the case for me. I have been with my employer for 3 years now and I have worked my butt of to earn a decent wage and a key role within the company so it shits me when you go on maternity leave and nothing is taken into account from the government. Not your dedication to your employer, not your job role and most certainly not your salary so when they give you the Australian minimum wage each week for your maternity leave it is a huge struggle financially and it feels like a big kick in the guts. And generally when you earn more at your job your expenses become more higher, you get a nicer car, you move into a nicer house you can afford nicer things. So to go from having a decent wage and high expenses then back down to base wage for 18 weeks it hits your pocket and your savings hard.
The maternity leave wage would of equalled the same amount of income for me going part time and we were already on struggle street and it had only been one month since I had little Z. How were we supposed to cope financially for the next 9 months on this one wage?! Lets face it we wouldn’t.
It was the hardest and most agonising decision for me to go back to work full time, I felt like I was failing as a mum and Aiden felt like he was failing as the “man of the house” because his single wage and my part time wage was not enough for our family of three. I feel like that decision affected Aiden more then me as he wanted me to be at home with Zephaniah for as long as possible. His mum was working full time when he was young and she wasn’t around as much as he would of liked her to be and he was worried that this would be the same situation Zephaniah would be put in. There were a lot of tears when the decision was made but it was also relief as I knew there was light at the end of this dark financial struggle tunnel and it felt like I could breathe again.
The morning I waved Zephaniah away as Aiden took her to mums I cried, I wiped away my tears and I got dressed into my professional office wear, did my makeup and drove to work. The first few hours I missed Zephaniah a lot and was trying to put on a brave face to everyone when really all I wanted to do was walk out the door and go get my baby. After a few hours had passed and I was back into the swing of things, it honestly felt like I never left, I love my job whole heartedly, I love the work that I do and I love the people I work with so the days quickly became easier.
Its been 3 weeks of being back at work and it isn’t that bad, the goodbyes of a morning don’t get easier, but the days do get easier and the time goes quicker as I am pretty busy whilst at work.
I do try and take positives out of the negatives life throws at us and a few positives are that we are truly blessed to have my mum and Aidens mum look after Zephaniah whilst I am at work, I wont need to put her into daycare for at least this year. Another positive is that now I actually miss my baby, I want to change her shitty nappies, I want to take her grocery shopping, I want to hold her when she cries and I don’t want to put her down into her cot at bed time as I try and squeeze as many cuddles as I can before saying goodnight. We can actually start saving again towards family holidays and even start putting some money away into an account for Zephaniah’s first car.
At the end of the day we are doing the best for our little family given the financial situation we were in, and as much as a painful decision had to be made and a decision that weighed heavy on us, it turned out alright and we are still one happy and grateful little family that cannot wait to come home to each other at the end of the night.