When I fell pregnant I never realised that for the rest of my life I would be riddled with parenting guilt. From telly watching (does he watch too much) to tooth-brushing (we’ve all forgotten to brush them a few times right?) and everything else in between. Parenting guilt creeps up in the strangest of places. I didn’t realise that everything I did as a parent, I would end up questioning. Every decision I made I would second guess. I certainly didn’t realise how guilty I would feel for being a working mum. Working mum guilt is the worst for me.
When my maternity leave finished I really didn’t want to go back to work and leave Luca. Having grown him for nine months and then raised him and nurtured him for a further ten months. I wasn’t ready to let him go. To let someone else care for him. To release him into the big bad world without me firmly by his side. Eventually I learnt to deal with this. That’s when the guilt kicked in.
Was I spending enough time with him?
Had I chosen the right childcare option?
Did he realise I was leaving him?
Was he upset that I was leaving him?
Would he understand one day that I had to do it and that I would much rather have been at home with him?
Over time this working mum guilt subsided. Slightly. There were the occasional days where I would get a bad bout of it but mostly it was under control. I talked myself around to the idea that it was good for Luca to have a working mum, for him to see me as an equal to his Daddy and that women can also be independent and provide for their families.
But then he got to nursery age and once again I was sucker punched with it. This time it was because I wouldn’t be able to pick him up from nursery every day. I was lucky that I was self employed by this point and managed to arrange my work so that I could do the nursery drop off most of the time and then my mum would pick him up. It only left Wednesday’s where there wasn’t anyone in the family to get him and it would have to be his childminders. Now don’t get me wrong, he adores them and they are great but I still felt like it should be me.
Because I was feeling so wretched about the whole thing Ant put plans into place with work so that he could have every Wednesday off work. That way he would drop him off and pick him up.
Working mum guilt sorted.
Far too quickly his year at nursery passed and foundation stage came around. Again being self employed means I am super lucky that I have a certain degree of control over my work patterns. This has meant I have been able to drop down to working out of the house just two days a week. Although I do feel guilty that I’m not able to do all his school runs, I reckon that 6 out of 10 isn’t bad. And on the days I don’t take him, he goes into class with his best friend and his childminder picks him up. The guilt is still there but it’s manageable.
I also decided to give up one of my evening clients as I don’t think it’s fair for Luca to be at the childminders until 7pm on a school night. It would mean me getting home and putting him straight to bed. Nope, that thought alone sends my working mum guilt soaring, pushing me right over the edge. For the record, I do realise how lucky I am to be in this position when so many other mums aren’t.
So with all these decisions made my mummy guilt is under control. Yay!
We’ve had since September to get used to this routine and it’s really working for us as a family. There are times when he asks me to pick him up but for the most part he’s happy with how it happens and I’m not feeling like a guilty parent all the time.
Well, that was until last week when Luca was awarded a gold merit. We received an invitation to attend the assembly to see him get it. We were told on Friday night via the school newsletter. As I had less than a weeks notice I wasn’t able to organise cover for work. Meaning I couldn’t go. *sobs*
Daddy went and I’m so happy he had someone there. Luca did keep asking if I was going though and I had to tell him no. Just writing that makes my eyes fill up. I have never felt so guilty.
So guilty that I couldn’t be there to celebrate with him and cheer him on from the side of the hall. To give him my biggest smile as he received it and a big thumbs up. I know Ant will have done just that. He also sat with the video recorder so I could watch it back when I got home.
This has been the worst case of parenting guilt I’ve had. I feel like I completely let him down. I’m also upset and annoyed that we live in a society where I HAVE to work. I’m angry, I’m upset and I’m just feeling like the worst mum in the world for not being able to be there for him. And really I don’t know why. Luca hasn’t mentioned once that I wasn’t there. He didn’t really need me there, he had someone and that’s all that matters. Some children don’t even have that. So why do I still feel bad about it? It’s completely ridiculous.
As much as I’d like to say that there is a way to drop the guilt, I honestly think it’s there for life. I’m just going to try quell it as much as possible. I’m also going to count my lucky stars that I’m in the position I am. I can do most of the school runs and be there for most things. Safe in the knowledge that if I can’t make it, his Daddy could and at least he has someone.
For all you other working mums out there feeling the working mum guilt, I here ya. We are all in it together. One day, our children will realise we worked hard for them, we provided for them and we will hopefully have inspired them. So let’s at least try to stop beating ourselves up over it.