Tag Archives: guilt of the working mother

WAHM, SAHM, Thank You, Ma’am

In January I had this thought: “I’m so unhappy. Maybe I should get a full-time, out-of-the-house job again.”

I was feeling done with taking care of a baby. Probably because I had been done.

Mothers are supposed to have rainbows shooting out of their hearts when it comes to their babies.

Babies. MomsicleBlog

[Insert rainbows.]

We all know parenthood is hard, but we talk about it being hard in a stoic martyrdom sort of way. It can be hard in a stark and scary way. As I said back in January, “I feel like [the baby] took a vibrant, passionate woman and turned her into a listless baby Sherpa.” (More on babies being adorable and annoying here.)

Things that were becoming more and more within range as the boys grew—professional aspirations, success tied to discrete goals, creative paid work—these things were blown out of reach like a plastic bag on a gust of wind.

“You don’t have to do this baby the same way as the boys,” my therapist said. She was right, of course. But it’s hard to wrap my head around having been a great stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) for K-Pants and Boy Woww, and feeling dread about doing the same thing for the baby.

I remember reading parenting books when I was pregnant with K-Pants that gently warned that husbands may not really enjoy parenting until the baby turned five or so—when regular-people activities started to overtake the Savannah-to-the-Sea insanity of infancy and toddlerhood. What about moms? Apparently we love to play peek-a-boo and go to Gymboree and clean up crushed Cheerios—and we just wait for the dads to catch up.

Maternal instincts. Biological clocks. These paints do not produce the same colors on every canvas, and we’re not good at acknowledging that.

So here I was in January, thinking about getting a full-time, out-of-the-house job again.

It didn’t quite feel right for me, but I wasn’t sure why. So I made a list of things in my life that give me purpose and joy and make me feel like I’m living into my values: walking the boys to-and-from school, working with clients on writing and editing projects, writing my blog, meeting my grandma for lunch, planning my permaculture garden, tromping around in nature, volunteering for kindergarten reading, and seeing close friends.

After I made the list, I noticed something: the baby was a very peripheral figure in all of it. I love having a flexible schedule to absorb our family’s bumps and turns, but I’m suffocated by baby care.

I decided a full-time, out-of-the-house job wouldn’t be a good fit. Instead, I needed to maintain and build my freelance work in order to have the professional life I crave and the family time I love. And that means more babysitting time for the Fairy Pig, and less baby care for me. (Shout out here to our babysitter Sue: Thank you.)

I’ve been really excited lately when girlfriends make the choice to go back to full-time, outside-of-the-house work after taking time off. I also love seeing girlfriends who love being SAHMs in all its beauty and grit. There’s no right choice or easy path. Knowing what’s right for you and your family—and being able to act on it—is a gift.

So I’m transitioning from being a SAHM with a writing addiction to a WAHM with a sometime baby sidekick. It’s the right choice for us.

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The Guilt of the Working Mother (Guest Post)

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.

BridgetAndIsobel

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

Isobel

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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.