Charlotte Philby's Parental Leave: 'It seems the right time to step back from Parental Leave'

I know I've made the right decision to give over more time to my children

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The Independent Online

In the 15 months since I began this column, a lot has happened in the world of the now nearly-five-year-old. I've watched on, bleary-eyed, as her life has rolled past like a magnificent if occasionally rather pungent steam train – the "F's" mysteriously thawing into "TH's", and the dirty protests over the arrival of the new baby giving way to the concerns over her marital status which briefly occupied her 40th month ("I don't even have a husband!!!!").

With her first term at school fast- approaching, and the imminent arrival of the third baby, it seems like the right time to step back from Parental Leave. A decision crystallised in my mind this evening as she calls my name and I instinctively turn to shoo her away from the computer, which I'm operating from a squat position on the floor because of pelvic girdle pain. "I'm sorry," I add quickly as my first-born lurches backwards, my limbs flailing. "It's just that the baby in my tummy means I have a terribly sore back, and it makes me very grumpy."

Immediately I know I've made the right decision to give over more time to my children. My daughter stares back at me, her eyes full of concern: "That's OK, but why do they make it so that your back hurts because that's not nice?" she asks. My heart melts. "I know," I nod, with heartfelt agreement. "It's a terrible thing to do to a person." God, I think, this child has come good. My eyes filling with tears, I sit back to bathe in her smile, ignoring the one grey tooth in the front, the result of head-butting a pavement. "And poor mummy," she adds, pulling me close to her, "they should never make you so fat!"