One thing’s for sure in parenting: There’s no perfect way to raise your family.
Full-time, part-time, flex-time… however your time is stitched together, it’s never perfect. Perfect is really just a figment of our imaginations. Life’s more about living into our choices, and looking for ways to soften the hard edges.
My friend Bridget works in the semiconductor industry in Ireland. She’s had a year off with her beautiful daughter Isobel (we’re all jealous of the European year off, aren’t we?!?). But as you’ll see, even after a long maternity leave, the tearing-at-your-heart about what’s best for your child is still the same.
The Guilt of the Working Mother
By Isobel’s Mom, Bridget
There’s a dark grey cloud looming overhead. I try to pretend it’s not really there, but it just won’t go away. It follows me around most of the day. A gloomy, depressing, miserable cloud. Something is tormenting me. Tugging at my heart. Making me feel sad and lonely. After a 12 month break, I’m about to return to work. I’ll be returning to a job I love, colleagues whose company I enjoy and a warm friendly workplace atmosphere…. But I don’t want to go back.
I don’t want to go back at all.
On May 5, 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first-born beautiful baby daughter Isobel into the world, and I’ve spent every day since then at home caring for her with all the love in the world. It’s been the most joyous & special time of our lives.
But now my return to work is fast approaching – like a super-storm on the horizon – and I’m feeling so emotional about it.
There’s a knot in the pit of my stomach. I can almost feel my heart sink when I think about it. Tears well up in my eyes. I’m leaving my baby behind and I’m filled with guilt, worry, and loneliness. Guilt that someone else will be spending the day with Isobel and not me. Someone else will spend more waking hours with her than me…. (I’ve done the calculation).
Will Isobel miss me? Will she wonder where I am in the morning when she wakes up and “No Mama”? And the most anxious question of all: Will she start to forget about me when I’m not home every day until 5.30 p.m. and someone else is caring for her?
I’ve obviously given lots of thought to NOT going back to work. Hubby & I have weighed up the pro’s and con’s and for now the decision rests to go back, give it time to settle into the new routine and see how it goes.
Who knows, maybe the time away from me will be good for Isobel as she becomes more social and used to other people. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t take away from the fact that while I’m at work (thinking about her), someone else will wipe away her tears when she cries, someone else will pick her up when she falls, someone else will play and have fun with her and someone else will change her dirty, smelly nappies, that I wish I could do every day.
For now, I’m going to treasure these last few weeks with her and hope and pray that the transition goes well and we both adapt.
For my little star Isobel, Mama loves you, even though she’s working and not at home with you every day. xxx
Thank you so much for sharing your emotions with us, Bridget!! I’ve asked her to write a follow-up, and in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about finding the right family path in your house.