Of working mothers and our unnecessary guilt

…don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours.

It’s been half a year since I returned to work. As I gear up at work (not really by choice, but one should always have an honourable sense of responsibility), I find that I’m stretched thin when I try to be my best at home and at work.

It’s not just the past two weeks, but it’s a nagging guilt that I suppose every working mother carries.

I think I give myself a hard time too much and too unnecessarily.

I feel bad when I am home later than usual.

I feel bad saying goodbye every morning when Little Foot would sputter and burst into tears, try to reach for me, try to stop me from leaving.

I feel bad when I go do ” me things” like get a haircut after work instead of running straight home.

Heck, I feel bad even about slowly sauntering home instead of brisk walking home from the train station!

Imagine how bad I felt when I had to pry myself from her on Sunday morning while she was kicking up an epic tantrum,  because I have to go be somewhere for work.

Some days I wonder if I’m the only mum in this world that beat myself over every second not given to my daughter.  Maybe not.

As I grapple with my feelings and try to continue to keep work and life separate, I sometimes pause to ask myself “why am I making things so hard for myself?”

And I would remind myself that it’s ok to have “me time” it is ok to still want to excel beyond motherhood. Otherwise,  there is no me left. I cannot simply be Little Foot’s mummy without also living for myself. My hopes, my aspirations,  my needs and wants, they still matter.

To the other folks out there… don’t think of working mothers as people who just leave office on time and do less than you. Think of us as people who have to try to do 48 hours of work in 24 hours. We juggle, we struggle…sometimes we look like we aren’t putting in as much as you.  I beg to differ if you think that way. We are just forced to become more effective and efficient. The work of a mother never ends. At 1am, we may be dealing with a kid awakened by nightmare. At 3am we could be dealing with a dirtied bed because baby puked… we have teething and fevers, flu and vaccinations to deal with. These things don’t make appointments with you. They happen whether a mother likes it or not.

AND we still reply the Whatsapp messages related to work at night, or boot up the laptop at odd hours to get some work done after the baby is asleep.

AND we still turn up for work the next morning (after dealing with a whole set of morning routine with the kid), grab a caffeine fix, and proceed to try to meet whatever deadlines we have, and look sharp at meetings. We would like to dream of our beds, but we don’t.  We tell ourselves not to waste time thinking about the bed. Because then the unnecessary guilt kicks in and we say “Hurry up,  get the work done. Baby’s waiting”.

We don’t bring our moods to work. Because moods and tantrums makes us less effective at work. And we know, we know there is always that one unmarried/childless colleague or boss who is lurking in the corner, waiting to see us trip up and think, “see, these mummies… they aren’t as committed, they aren’t as good….”. So we try harder than anyone else to be professional, because the odds are not in our favour.

Of course, there may be some working mothers who really don’t commit as much as the bare minimum,  those are not the ones I speak for… I speak for those who are like me, trying to be the best on all fronts and always guilt-tripping ourselves unnecessarily all the time because, really we wish we could do more on all fronts. We’ve given up gym and spas and “chill out after work” sessions with colleagues, all so that we can give more to work and home. Think of us while you chill. Have a beer in our honour.

The road ahead as a working mother is long… somehow, I know things will pan out fine. Because when in doubt, I come home to hug my baby and let her smiles wash all my worries and fears away.

image

Every morning, Little Foot waves goodbye to me tearfully. A shot taken from the lift landing that peers into my balcony.

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14 thoughts on “Of working mothers and our unnecessary guilt

  1. Hey, I hear you loud n clear ! I can fully understand the situations too. And perhaps, most importantly, I totally concur !
    I am a house husband for the past coming 10years (Sept 10yrs) and I can assure you (and others ouy there who feel this way) the feeling is perfectly n humanly normal. What’s not is your guilt feeling. However, I am glad to read that you have slowly come to terms and accept that it is ok to have “me times” n do things that you would like to do. I second that !
    I don’t wanna be too long winded here, but have this to share.
    If one does not take care of himself / herself, then how will he / she take care of their families or work or what have you
    Cheers n all the best to a more balanced n fulfilling life 👍

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  2. My daughter just turned one and I absolutely share your sentiment on the guilt, on giving up gym, on hanging out, etc. Thank you for this – it is encouraging and inspiring; especially to know that we are not alone in this.

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  3. hi sweetie, I’m totally with you and I go through what you do every morning before I head off for work, or weekends when I wna go out with my friends. but it’s always so, so worth it when you get home from a long day just to see their smile and get to feel their hugs!! just hang in there, all of us. sending you lots of love.

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  4. I was once in your shoes and felt I could not perform my best at either. Even my ex-boss assured me that I was doing and coping well, those singles, men (who no need to take care of house/kids) or childless colleagues were never that understanding.

    Between my child and career, I made a choice. Seeing my boy’s smiles and developments every day makes the “sacrifice” worthwhile.

    Jiayou! You are doing great and it’s never easy.

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  5. You are not alone! I too feel guilty every time I am not with my son. Given up gym n spas too cos the guilt is too strong. Sometimes I wish my hubby is more hands on so I can get some r&r without feeling guilty

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  6. This is a never ending journey for a mother. My kids are 15, 12 and 10. Still am going through it. Feel every bit of the guilt that you are talking about and it can be a daily struggle – a very difficult one too. We sometimes just have to pat our own shoulders and say that we are doing ok, coz we are. It will never be as easy job but we will still do it, willingly and with alot of love. You are doing well and good. Be proud mummy! Cheers!

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  7. Has been a mummy since 20+ yo. I do agree with the mummies, our job will never end n of cause the guilt. As a result I have being very harsh on myself, I started to blame my husband for not hands on n supportive, n feel like running away, in fact break down. After all the years of mummy, wife n employee duties, l learned to let go n let my husband handle all the kids problem. I have started to find me again. Outing with friends, travelling alone, volunteering,etc,(these are the things which I have given up for more than ten over years). To all mummies out there, we do have duty as a mother n sometimes guilt do follow us but we also need to take care of ourselves. Only by taking care of ourselves, we can perform better in our multitasking role, so mummies do remember to find yourself again. Cheers to all the beautiful mummies out there.

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  8. Yes I feel you. I have 2 sons and for 3 years since the first was born, I haven’t found the time to do “me” stuff or even lose all this post pregnancy weight on me. But yes, I remain efficient and professional at work, and yes I do brisk walk from the train station just to get to my kids faster…cheers to us working mummies, and to better times ahead!

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  9. Happen to chance upon your article… Same same sentiments! But somehow we need to reward ourselves at times for some ‘me time’ too. Lets do our best for our child, husband and family! 🙂

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  10. Constantly struggle everyday to want to be a stay home mom. The only different between your situation and mine is that my daughter says bye to me nonchantedly when I go to work and goes about doing her own stuff. Which makes me wanna laugh and cry at the same time.

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