As a first time mum I suffered for a long time with “mum guilt”, even more so as I was suffering from postnatal depression. I already felt like I was failing my daughter and I thought everyone was watching and judging my every move as a mother. A role I had convinced myself I couldn’t handle and wasn’t cut out for, a role I thought I didn’t deserve in all honesty.
This was made worse by knowing I wluld need to return to work at some point. I would find myself calculatung how many weeks/days/hours I had left until my life was gling to yet again go into freefall. During my maternity leave I was constantly asked ”Are you going back to work?” Every time I would reply yes and get the same response “Oh you’ll change your mind when the time comes” “Can’t you just survive on one wage?” The truth was I knew I wouldn’t change my mind. Or more that, I couldn’t. It’s so difficult to survive on a single wage these days. And not being able to contribute to the bills or buy my daughter what she needed would make me experience even more of that “mum guilt”.
So on my first day back, I dropped her off at the child minders. I had no doubt that she would care for her very well but it didn’t stop the tears on the drive to work. Why was I crying? A mixture of reasons really, but primarily it was leaving her with who was essentially a stranger so I could go and earn money so I can help support my family. Crazy isn’t it? I had taken all the necessary steps in order to be with my daughter as much as possible and to make the transition from full time mum to…well still full time mum and the added pressure of part time employee! I had dropped down to 4 days a week and arranged a flexible working agreement with my employers. But it didn’t stop the inevitable guilt from creeping in and making me feel like the worst mother on the planet. So many conflicting thoughts were firing around my brain, I needed time to help process them all.
Thankfully, now 4 months down the line the guilt I experienced on that first day back has all but gone. Some days are better than others however. I occasionally still feel a pang of guilt as I thought that by being a stay-at-home/work-at-home hybrid, I’d have the best of both worlds. But instead, I feel like I’m half-assing each one. I barely have time to do anything put with work. The housework has taken a back seat, mornings prior to starting work are dominated by trying to get things organised rather than playing with my daughter before I leave her for the day. And when I’m at work I’m constantly thinking about all the things that need done at home. But while I continue to battle with my PND and recurring episodes of anxiety I have to keep reminding myself that having a spotless house isn’t the be all and end all. I do my best every day for my little girl, and what more can she ask for?
I chose to be a working mum but the way I see it, I’m contributing towards half of the bills with my husband and while I’m at work in the evenings he is looking after our daughter. She is not short on love or attention, and we are bringing her up together as a team. A team I’m proud to be a part of.