[That Working Mum Guilt]

I have less than a week left of my annual festive season holiday. One weekend and three pitiful, measly weekdays, and that’s it. Done. Kaput. Finito. Panic has already set in that I haven’t had enough special bonding time alone with my boy, despite starting this holiday with big plans that involved cramming as much fun and mom-and-son QT into my 3 week break as I (and he) could possibly manage.

Unfortunately that first week of the holiday is always an insane rush, isn’t it? There’s the madness of last minute Christmas shopping. The endless cleaning and tidying that comes with being at home while your helper is on leave. The extra day or two needed to just veg after all that racing around and over-eating / over-drinking. And then sunny, subtropical Durban went from 35 degrees on Christmas Day to a few days of often torrential rain that messed majorly with any plans to get out and about with a little one.

So here I sit, feeling kinda anxious that it’s almost time to return to work and I’ve made barely a dent in my list of some of the cool stuff to do with a toddler in Durban.

Mommy Guilt is a feeling that bogs down my brain and heart often. As a working mum I get all of 2 to 3 hours a night during the week to spend with my son, and most of it is the mundane day-to-day stuff like bath-time and bedtime routines, and managing round-the-clock tantrums and occasional tiredness. Weekends are mostly split with R’s paternal grandparents, who regularly require special catch-up time with their first grandchild and the absolute apple of their eye. R is a blessed little boy who has a solid village of caregivers, and this is something to be grateful for. 

This week we attended the first birthday of the daughter of one of my colleagues (who has also become a dear friend to me…the mum, not the daughter, obviously). What a lucky little girl she is to have two mommies who split their working week so that each of them is home with her every alternate day, juggling all that fun stuff like moms and babes classes and swimming lessons and baby gym. Listening to their doula speak proudly of their decision to do so, I couldn’t help but admire the fact that they’ve made this arrangement work so well for them. 

These first few years of a kid’s life are so incredibly crucial that there will always be that tiny voice in the back of my mind, asking whether I am doing enough for and with my boy, while I am off working full-time and getting less than 30 hours of direct time a week with him.

It’s in those moments that I need to consciously silence that voice and answer that yes, I am doing my absolute best for my family within the limits of our own circumstances. 

My husband and I each share significant responsibilities within the home, and it was never an option for me to be a SAHM. But it wasn’t only financially based. Quite frankly there came a point during my maternity leave where I was 100% ready to get back to work and back into my routine, having normal adult conversations that did not centre around breastfeeding and nap times and the more than 50 shades of poop (although I will still gladly chat about these ad nauseam with anyone who wishes to do so, thanks!).

Having my son changed my outlook on work, however. I went from regularly working late into the night, to mostly leaving work at work. Motherhood certainly also diluted any aspirations I might have had of making a rapid ascent up the corporate ladder (for now anyway).  I have found so much pure and simple joy in just being this kid’s mama that it is undeniably the most important thing to me right now.

But it is not the only important thing to me. Career satisfaction is still very important to me. Being able to contribute towards the household income (and gosh dangit, have occasional splurges, too) is also important to me. Having the means to take him on outings and enrolled at playschool and in extramural activities is also extremely important to me. And certainly would not be possible for us as a single income family. 

So, my son, I give you my word that over the next 5 days, you and I are going to rack up the fun. We are going to bond and play and go on mini adventures.

And even when I’m back at work and we’re back in the swing of our day-to-day lives, know that I am doing the best I can with what I have to make life better for you and I and Daddy. 

The challenge is for me to just keep reminding myself of that, too. And for all of us mums to do the same every single day, whether we’re SAHM mums keeping the wheels of the household turning efficiently, or working mums striving for that all important home-work-life balance.

A pat on the back to us all, whatever our story.

xx

Image credit: http://www.workingmomsagainstguilt.com


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