I have just come to the end of my first week back at work after some time off with the children. It never gets any easier to wrench myself away from them and back into the nine to five, never.
I remember the first time I came "back to work" when my eldest was nine weeks old. I remember the hollow feeling that I had left a very important part of me behind and the constant battle of trying to focus on something that took a very distant second place to what I wanted to be doing.
When I started work after having my second, I remember sitting in the shower room expressing for her and in my more melodramatic moments looking down and thinking that it was almost as if my breasts were crying milk for her.
The third time around, I remember sprinting back from the bus each evening to scoop up my daughter and nuzzle the sweet smelling baby neck I had missed all day.
No, it never gets any easier.
But with working comes a commute and that, to me, means thinking time. This week I have been mulling over the age old question of whether women have been sold a lie.
Can we really "have it all"?
We become mamas and despite our promises, to ourselves and our children, we are faced with a choice: An impossible choice: We can become part of the cliché, the part timer, desperately fitting a full working week into a few days and feeling five minutes behind every deadline. Or, even worse, we go back to work full time and pick up our careers only to add full time failing mum to our résumé.
Once a week we get those digests, those beautifully crafted social media updates full of pictures of amazing ways to feed children at a party, or turn your recycling into a beautiful work of craft and it mocks you, yet another way that you are failing. How do these mums have time? Or energy? Or the creativity? I bet the women who thought of these have rocking bodies and a great sex life too. I bet their children never hit another child over a grubby play group toy.
But what if these are the thoughts of every mama walking the streets today?
That perfectly suited woman who is only wearing a jacket to cover the jam kissed shoulder she missed as she walked out a of the house? Or the woman who looked like she had just spent the day at the spa, not because she had, but because she has perfected her look of serenity to cover her dread at knowing she is going to walk through the door and straight into a pitched battle.
What if this is the all that we can have? Not some perfect life where time and our energy are intimate resources, but a life of compromise. What if it was always there, tucked away in tiny letters in the small print at the bottom of The Motherhood Contract.
Would you still have taken the deal?