As I sit here typing this I’m watching the baby monitor and waiting for bubs to fall asleep. She’s sick, so I’ve put her back to bed earlier than usual. She’s crying, and struggling to settle into dream land. I leave my lap top and go in to give her a cuddle. She’s going through a sleep regression and needs a cuddle every now and then before she can fall asleep. It also doesn’t help that she isn’t feeling well. Oh and she’s teething. I put her back in her cot and she rolls around trying to find that comfy spot. Back to my lap top. The screen is broken, so parts of these words are blacked out. I think of the things I need to do today (apart from get a new laptop); Go to the pharmacy for some medication for bubs (and me, as I’m getting sick too), do the food shopping, hang the washing out, vacuum, and clean the bathroom. Our bugs are stopping us from attending our Thursday music class. My laptop is on go slow and the words come up on the screen after I’ve typed them as though someone else is typing them externally.
Time for a new laptop I think. Except, we can’t afford such a luxury. We’re a one income family. My incredible husband works five days a week and I stay home looking after our only child. So technically we both ‘work,’ it’s just that I don’t get paid for it. My maternity leave pay ended in January and its now August. We had some savings put away so that I could have more time off with bubs but that too is now dwindling. I thought I would stay off work for at least a year, but that’s looking less and less likely. And now I’m getting the major mum guilt’s.
I didn’t think I would have such an aversion to going back to work. The thought of it kills me. And not because I don’t like what I do, (I’m a nurse and while it can be a stressful job, it’s very rewarding) but because I don’t want to leave my baby in the care of someone else. And I’m getting the mum guilt’s.
I think back to 5 minutes ago when I put my sick baby into bed for an early nap, when she then needed a cuddle and some help getting off to sleep. I think of the breakfast I gave her, some weetbix with warm milk because it softens the food and it’s easier on her new little teeth. I think of the bottle I gave her when she woke up and how she likes to hold her bunny while she drinks it. I think of all the things I do for her because I’m her mum, and I know her best. What happens to that stuff when she’s in the care of someone else? Will they give her a cuddle when she’s struggling to fall asleep? Will they warm her food so it’s nice and soft but not so soft that she can’t grasp it? Will they know to distract her with some quiet play, a book perhaps, when she gets grizzly? Will she miss me? Major. Mum. Guilt’s.
We just re-jigged our home loan. They told me that if I was to work just one shift per week it would give our finances the small boost that we need to stay above the line. I felt the urge to call the hospital and ask for work immediately. Yes I know that my contribution to this family is staying home to raise our child, but to be able to contribute to our bank account again would be so beneficial. (I would also quite like to sit down to lunch one day without having to feed and clean up after someone else first). Mum guilt’s.
I could go back to work for a couple of days a week but would I be doing that just to pay for day care? I think about perhaps doing an afternoon shift at the hospital. Starting around 2pm and finishing around 11pm. Maybe a Thursday or Friday afternoon? Except bubs sleeps from 1pm until 3pm every day. That would mean she sees me when I put her to bed, but someone else would be there when she wakes up. Would that be scary for her? Her dad would have to put her to bed for the night on his own. We usually do the bed time routine together. He bath’s her, I change and dress her, we sing, he gives her a bottle and puts her to bed. It’s a combined effort. What if she notices I’m absent and can’t fall asleep? What if I have a rough evening at work, don’t get home until midnight, have to get up to her during the night, yet still have to function as a mother the next day? (I hear all you full time working mums screaming at me). Mum guilt’s.
As mothers in this society, there is so much pressure to ‘do it all.’ To have children, to still have a successful career and to have a beautiful, well presented home. I see so many amazing mothers on social media who own their own business or work full time in their chosen career, who have a gazillion children and a loving husband, and still manage to be functioning humans. WHO ARE YOU??!! And how the heck are you not dying of exhaustion? Are you some of the lucky ones who have the support from loving friends and family? The thought of doing ONE shift a week at work has me dreading every second and here you guys are carrying on as though you’ve got it all worked out. Do you? Do you have it all worked out? Or do you also have some major mum guilt’s?
Social media tricks us. We see all these beautiful shiny mothers who look like they have their shit together. And maybe they do? But what we probably don’t see is their real lives behind the camera. The night time tantrums, the refusal to eat dinner, the uproar when you suggest that its bed time soon, the million wake ups in the middle of the night, and the tears when you leave for work in the morning. Social media mums give me major mum guilt’s. Maybe I need to stop scrolling Instagram and call the hospital about work possibilities? Brb……
And what about the grandparents? Those amazing people who looked after us when we were little pepe’s, who are now offering to take care of their grandchildren in their retirement? We are a family lucky enough to have these beautiful humans in our lives. And we have been given the option of using their care-giving services when they decide to leave work behind for good. But once again, even though we’ve been offered this incredible gift of care for my baby, I’m having major mum guilt’s. Do I trust them with my child? Wholeheartedly. But I still have anxieties about leaving her, even though they’re family. So what’s the problem? The problem is me. It’s my mind playing tricks. It’s my mind telling me that absolutely no one else is capable of caring for my child the way I can. Because I know her the best. I know all her little quirks. I know what she likes and dislikes. I know what to do when she refuses food, I know how to entice her back when she tries to roll out of a nappy change, I know how to get her to fall asleep, and I know how to get her to sit still while I wipe her snotty little nose. Will the person caring for her learn those quirks? Probably. Will she miss me while I’m working? Probably not. Should I let the mum guilt’s stop me from going back to work? A part of me thinks I should just stop whingeing, I signed up for this right? And a part of me feels guilty that I might actually enjoy being away from her (gasp!)
To all you mums who have gone back to work because you had no choice, I salute you. To those mums who have gone back to work for your own little slice of sanity, I salute you. I salute your courage, your dedication and your sacrifice. Because you are sacrificing. You’re sacrificing the time that you have to juggle between your children, your partner, and your work and still find time for yourself (ha!). You’re continuing to contribute to your family in more ways than one. I guess that’s what we do when we become mothers, we sacrifice. We sacrifice who we were in order to make our children the best little people they can be. And we will continue to do that for years to come. Will I ever stop feeling guilty? Probably not.
Bubs is finally asleep, and I’ve got TV to catch up on. Whoops! I mean dishes to do so that hubby doesn’t have to come home to a mess. I also have to go to the gym, eat healthy, stay away from wine and win lotto. I have the mum guilt’s (and high hopes).