It can take you to you dark places. Places that you’d never choose to go. Places that you desperately want to keep your children from. It can sneak up on you, pouncing when you least expect it. It did to me this week.
I’ve been a working mother of two for nearly seven months now. I’ve written before about how tough I've found it and certainly much harder than when I was a working mother of one for some strange, inexplicable reason. I thought I had found an ‘autopilot’ of sorts to steer me through the working week. But, no matter how good your ‘autopilot’ is, it seems there are always bumps in the road that can take you off course.
A day or two ago, after coming home from a day at work and giving my children some much needed cuddles, Sophia hugged me and quietly enquired,
“Are you at home tomorrow?”
It’s a question she has taken to asking recently as she begins to understand the chronological order of the days of the week and looks forward to the weekend when I can be at home with her and her brother.
I explained to Sophia that I would have to go to work for the next couple of days. Normally she takes it quite well and we talk about the weekend but this time her little face fell...and with it went my heart.
Then came the guilt. I became awash with feelings about how I am letting my precious little girl down; that I go out to work while she needs me with her; that I am missing out on so much. Deep down I know none of that is true. I work hard to provide for my family and give them everything they need, including security. I love my children fiercely and they know this, I am sure. Everything I do is for them.
But right then, at that very moment, all of that reasoning was swept away by guilt.
I cuddled Sophia tight. I told her how many days it would be until I would be at home with her. I stroked her hair and told her I loved her very much. My eyes watered with emotion but I did my best not to show it. We moved on to talking about other things and she got out a jigsaw.
It was a fleeting few moments, yet, this exchange made me feel like I had been hit hard in the chest, making me breathless with a dull ache in my heart. Those wretched feelings of guilt stayed with me, making the evening a melancholy one. I longed to tell her that I would stay at home but I couldn’t. I’m working on a project that might allow me to work from home in the future (and is something I’m very close to unveiling!) but being at home full-time just isn’t a possibility right now. Bills need to be paid, clothes need to be bought and renovations need to be finished.
A working mother’s guilt can truly be a terrible thing; something that can eat away at you if you let it. I know I’ll get over it this latest blip and we will carry on with some sort of vague normality, but that doesn’t make it any easier. And it doesn’t stop the next blip from coming.
Are you a working mum? Do you ever feel this way? Is guilt something that all mothers experience, regardless of whether we are work or stay at home? I guess what I’m trying to say is, please tell me I’m not alone.