IF YOU had told me on my wedding day six years ago that I would give up my career to become a stay-at-home mum, I wouldn’t have believed you, writes Maxine.

Back then, I was confident I’d continue my career as a child and adolescent mental health service nurse, even with the expectation of moving every three years, not realising many postings placed me in an area too far for me to commute.

I retrained as a health visitor, hoping this would open the employment world for me. With military spouses on every camp having children, I would have my pick of jobs, I thought. A posting to Northern Ireland put that on hold. With a tricky recruitment process, and a miscarriage on the day of the interview (my husband, of course, was away) I concentrated on our family.

Life only got more complicated last year when Colin left for Bahrain for a six-month tour, leaving me to cope alone with our two children. Our youngest was only eight months old.

I was surviving okay until, six weeks in, a routine horse-riding lesson ended with a fall, a nerve-wracking trip to hospital and a broken coccyx.

In pain and unable to take any medication due to looking after the kids, there were days where I barely managed to keep everything going.

I’ve made a complete recovery, though I’ve struggled to return to riding. I miss it but, as a mum, I worry what could have happened. When Colin finally returned, we began to look to the future – and to moving back to the mainland.

Once Catterick was confirmed, I managed to return to the NMC register as a nurse and health visitor. That part was easy! However, reality kicked in when we realised the cost of childcare equated to my future weekly wage. I didn’t want to feel like I was sacrificing my time away from our children for no financial gain.

Instead, I’m looking forward to a new challenge, setting up my own childcare business. I know it won’t be easy, but I learned during Colin’s absence I’m a much stronger person than I ever realised – and that this too is part of our adventure together as an army family.

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