After my first week at work I have found that leaving Eve gets easier so long as I know I am going to have some quality time (apologies for that dreadful phrase) with her each day. It is all a case of being organised so I feed her at the beginning of the day and am home before her last evening feed so we can play a little bit. Even better was last week when some meetings worked out such that I couldn't take two full days off and had to work two half days instead. It is, however, a military operation with Eve having to eat her fill before I leave for work, no easy task if she is tired or in a fussy mood. I have had to put meetings in my diary to block out when I need to express the milk (3 times a day!). To get home and spend any time with Eve I have to leave the office at 6, a time when business in Asia is very much still going on.
All of this has made me realise how tough being a working Mum is actually going to be. Aside from the ever-present guilt and feelings of being replaced by her nanny, there is the realisation that my career is going to take a big hit if I want to actually see my daughter.
Despite the age of Mums being the sole or main caregiver being long gone in theory, I have found that I am the one whose career will suffer because Asia is not particularly family friendly in its work culture, and because I seem to feel more acutely than the Boy that a parent should be with Eve as much as possible so am prepared to change my work accordingly. So it is I who will, inevitably, not get such a good performance rating or bonus next year because I won't work the long hours required in my job. it is I who, for the next 2 months, will take a 40% pay cut so I can work part time and Eve can have a parent at home a bit longer. It is also me who gets up in the night with her so when I am in the office I will be a shadow of my former, 8 hours a night, self.
The Boy is much more involved and better than most Dads and none of this is directed as a slight to him, but he was away last week for 2 nights, is away for the next 6 nights, and rarely can leave the office before 7pm. This means that something has to give, and I refuse to let it be Eve never seeing either parent during the week, so the only thing left is my career.
I am not inconsiderably annoyed about the inevitability of all of this, and that something I worked so hard for will not continue on the same path whereas any man's career can continue as before. Why this inequality?
I used to row with a great girl, H, who had a very high powered City job. I remember after her first baby and return to work I asked her how it was going. Her reply, "I have realised I will always have a job, but never again have a career". I have just come to the same conclusion.