I have never had a problem with being a working mother.
Returning to work three days a week after my first maternity leave I did not feel guilty. Selfishly I missed them, selfishly I wanted to be the one to cuddle them when they woke up from their naps. But I didn’t worry for them. I didn’t feel that they were missing out in any way. They were impeccably cared for either by family or, when they were a little bit older, by an excellent nursery. Working with children and young people for over a decade, I’ve never been a ‘career woman’. Climbing the career ladder has never been my motivation to be away from my little bears. I think that’s absolutely fine if it is though. Happy mummy = happy children and all that. Like so many others I’ve always had to work to supplement the family income. And I’ve been ok with that. I’ve embraced each job role I’ve had. It made me feel like I was contributing more to the world than just polluting the earth with dirty disposable nappies. And the time away from my babies absolutely made me cherish my days off with them.
When we moved over to the Yorkshire Dales and I began working five days a week, again, I did not feel guilty about being a working mummy. I was confident the timings would not affect my now school aged children. They go to a couple of afterschool clubs, granny and granddad give them tea on a Wednesday and I get to stand at the school gate twice a week. I don’t take that for granted.
In theory it works. In theory I think it’s great to be a mummy and be working.
But in practice? In practice I’m knackered. I’m forever berating myself for this. I’m forever telling myself to just pull my head in. I’m forever telling myself I should eat more spinach so I can be more like popeye. He wouldn’t be on his knees by 4pm. And this, my friends, is what I do feel guilty about.
Being a tired working mummy.
Because the consequence is that my little girls get the dregs of me. They don’t get the energetic Mrs C that jumps around with the children in the morning for the class warm up songs. They don’t get the multitasking whizz that simultaneously soothes a grazed knee, helps a 6 year old with a piece of writing and wipes the nose (gag) of that child that seems to have a ‘forever cold’. They don’t get the serene woman that remains calm when 7 children are
screeching talking to her at the same time.
What they get is a really tired mummy, Monday through to Friday. And Maybe Saturday morning too. After tea, when they ask what we can do I try and make the option of lying down together on the sofa sound as exciting and appealing as possible. When they want to do crafts, I can’t help but inwardly groan about the extra tidying involved and ask them if they’re sure they wouldn’t rather sit and contemplate life. And please don’t stone me for saying this, but by 6pm I’m looking forward to their bedtime just so I can sit down.
Then when they’re sleeping I miss them so go and creepily sit by their bed and watch them snore.
Mr C misses out on the patient professional that resorts to swearing in her head when she has to gently remind the children for the 167th time not to pick their nose and eat it. He doesn’t get to see the colleague that wants to make sure everyone else is ok. He comes home to a half human-half zombie spouse that looks slightly deranged in the eyes and complains that one day she will actually put her backside through one of those teeny tiny plastic chairs designed for 5 year olds.
I’m even boring myself with how often I say I’m tired each day after work. I can’t bring myself to go to bed before 10pm because those two hours after biggest little bear lights out time is vital for Mr C and I to continue liking each other. And I feel that liking each other is pretty high up there for a fair-to-good-marriage. Even if it means just staring at a TV screen together. Holding hands if I havn’t already dozed off.
Life shouldn’t involve wishing away 5/7ths of it so you can remain awake after the watershed. I mean, come on!
Maybe I should be popping multi vitamins. Maybe I should be scoffing the spinach…Or was the avocado baby (remember that book?) onto something and I should ditch the green leafs for the green mush? Maybe I should exercise more. Don’t they say it gives you energy? I Can’t say I’ve ever not been feel-sick-tired after a work out but hey, it might be worth a bash.
Or… Maybe I should save up, buy a field with a vegetable patch and chickens and a goat, and turn our family into self sufficient hippies. Then when I’m not working I can just write and then write some more. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Mrs C x
PS You can make this tired mama very happy if you popped over to the blog’s facebook page (it’s only a baby) and showed it some love. When I’m too tired and grumpy to write a full blog post, I share snippets of this crazy life over there. Sweet.
Disclaimer: I thoroughly believe stay-at-home mums DO contribute way more than just polluting the world with disposable nappies. If you are one yourself I think you’re fab. It was that old chestnut, the mummy guilt that made me feel edgy when I was on maternity leave – like I was going to get caught out for being at home and enjoying my newborn-smelling bundle of loveliness when I should have been, I don’t know, working down in a coal mine or something. Mummy guilt does funny things to you.
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