You should not feel guilty about going back to work to provide for your children.
On maternity leave, once you start to think about the moment you’ll return to work, Mum guilt sets in. Mine did the minute we started making plans and looking at nurseries.
Mums seem to have to justify this decision, I did and do now. My reason was because we needed the money. The reality is, we need my salary to maintain the lifestyle we’re used to. Is this something I should feel guilty about? I want to be able to give my daughter holidays, days out, earn my own money, be my own person and (hopefully) be a role model for her. Or is what she really needs is me at home? That is the question and that which causes the guilt.
‘Mum guilt’ seems perpetual, something I’ve felt from day one. It’s like the bad days make you feel so guilty that the good times won’t make that feeling go away. It has been very hard to come to the realisation, or even just admit, that I want to work, and that is okay! It feels like I’m saying something wrong, especially when admitting this around other Mums, but lots of other Mums do feel the same, even if not everyone admits it. We were working women before we had children, we worked hard to achieve what we had in our careers; there is no shame in wanting to continue where you left off. You are not abandoning your children because of it. That being said, I am sure the majority of Mums would love a job that works flexibly, but many don’t. I’d love to be home in time for dinner, bath, story and bed but for 3 days a week, I will probably miss it. Breaks my heart just thinking about it and I really don’t need anyone making me feel worse than I already do.
It was at the time of searching for nurseries and discussing coming back to work with my fiancé and boss, that I saw a Facebook post which really upset me. So much so that it took weeks for me to write about it. It was a post from a Mummy which said “It never ceases to amaze me how people can abandon their children?!”. Too right! I agreed instantly, of course. Then I continued to read… the final sentence said, “NO CAREER”. I was floored. Was this person suggesting that by having a career you are abandoning your children and that women working (or men as well, I can only assume), never cease to amaze them!? I was so upset about my own situation then. Are there people who judge me for returning to work? My mind quickly turned to, are they right?! OF COURSE THEY ARE NOT! All Mums make the best provisions for their babies, including having as much of you as possible. I am working from home 2 days a week so that I don’t miss the evenings with her, so that I can try and balance being a Mum and having a career, the best that I can. Regardless of people’s childcare plans, they are no one else’s business. You are doing what works for you, what is best for your family, and at no point, in no way, are you abandoning your children by providing for them. Remember that there are Mums who are doctors, nurses, paramedics, teachers (the list is endless) who ‘abandon’ their children, to look after yours…
The saddest part of the whole thing and what never ceases to amaze me, is how unsupportive Mums can be to other women in the same situation. Be kind and understanding to Mummies and you will get that support in return. After all, who is more caring or supportive than a Mummy? It is one of our jobs!