I’ve never been particularly good at running – I can still recall my PE teacher bellowing at me to pick up my knees.
I’m certain my technique has not improved with age and yet running is all I seem to do since returning to work.
Running to drop my son off at the childminder’s, running past startled commuters to get to the office in time.
Running laden with bags, a car seat and my coat trailing behind me.
Running to collect my son come the end of the day; you get the picture.
When I decided to return to work, I imagined it would be somewhat less stressful than managing an eight-month-old.
In many ways, my prediction has proved right.
On my first morning of work I went to the toilet and automatically piled toilet roll on my lap.
No, I don’t have unfortunate bodily functions – I have not gone to the toilet alone in a very long time and my son normally plays with toilet roll as I attempt to go about my business in five seconds or less.
The realisation hit me that I could at last pee in peace and with it came a wave of grief.
For the first few days, it felt as though something was missing.
I ate lunch without swiping away sticky fingers and I spoke to people without jiggling a hefty child on my hip.
It was the strangest feeling, to go about my day without meeting the demands of a little person who tends to be unreasonable 90% of the time.
And goodness, how I have missed him.
It’s strange, the things you miss when you finally get the time to just be.
His comical expressions and his attempt at hugs, which often result in a stranglehold round my neck.
The space which he has left behind during the working day has slowly been filled with something else, something altogether more disconcerting and familiar at the same time.
The old me.
Motherhood has irreversibly changed me for the better and I am finally comfortable and proud to be a mum.
It was a title which I struggled to come to terms with during the first few months of my son’s life.
I didn’t know how to get it right amidst so many drastic changes.
I wish I could go back to that scared exhausted woman who was me, and tell her she was doing just fine,
That work would always be there and she would grow to love an entirely new way of being.
It seemed that just as I got the hang of things, it was time to return to the office and pick up where I left off.
The days have passed in a blur of 5am starts and the heart-sinking realisation that I have forgotten to pack my son’s favourite toy.
But in between the tiredness and manic juggling, there have been glimpses of pure elation.
I salute women who choose to stay at home with their children and I know without a shadow of doubt that it wasn’t the right path for me.
I am not ashamed to say I needed something beyond motherhood to excite me and challenge my curiosity.
As I have listened to people’s stories and put their words on the page, I have felt as though I am chatting to an old friend who I haven’t seen in years.
There have been wobbles of course, moments when I have felt unsure as to whether I am still cut out for the job.
Ugly snatches of guilt when my son’s childminder mentions that he cried at toddlers’ group and of course bone-aching tiredness, because my child thinks sleep is for the weak.
But for the most part, it feels as though I have discovered the old me and I am so very glad to see her.
I don’t think it’s possible to have it all, depending on what your definition of this ridiculous term means.
My house should come with a health hazard because there simply isn’t the time to clean.
I have cried in the car for five days in a row after dropping my son off, despite the fact I know he is safe and happy.
I have been reminded that it really is OK, and indeed possible, to do something outside of motherhood though.
To find a passion which doesn’t include Mr Tumble and revel in the freedom which time away from my son brings.
Being a working parent is incredibly difficult, just as being a stay at home mum is one of the hardest jobs there is.
If you see your colleague leg it into the office with a dummy in her handbag, know she is doing her best.
Know she questions and analyses her choice and inhales her baby at the end of the day,
When I walk through the door, I drop the bags, ignore the mess and make my son a snack.
We curl up on the sofa and he pats my face while munching on toast, offering me soggy bits which have been licked and discarded.