Why I refuse to feel back-to-work guilt.
“Don’t go to work, Mummy!”
I hadn’t thought about how my four year old would react when I went back to work. In my mind, it had been all about the baby I was leaving to go back to my TV career. The baby who’d had me wrapped around her little finger for a year. The baby who was going to cling to me and wail on nursery drop off.
But of course, I spent the year with him too. Apart from his 15 hours free childcare, we were together all week. Playing, park-ing, tea-ing, surviving, laughing, hanging, basically finding ways to have fun on the cheap with mates if poss. A little team, he, me and she.
So, although we’ve always had funny chats, I hadn’t planned for the answers to his very grown up questions and pretty emotional reaction about me suddenly leaving him again.
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” But why do you have to go to work Mummy? Staaaaaaay! Please stay!” Lots of arm grabbing and sad faces.
Now this is where I could easily launch into ‘woe is me’ Mum guilt for leaving my babies and selfishly going back to work…
But I’m not. Our conversation went something like this:
“Well, now that Little P is a bit bigger and can go to nursery, it’s time for me to go back to work, like I used to before she was born.”
“But why?” We’re at the ‘why’ stage good and proper now.
“Umm ok. There are a few reasons. One, is that people work to earn money. And we need money to pay for everything, like the house, our food, clothes…”
“Like my Aston Martin for when I can drive?” (We have been teaching him about saving his money in his piggy bank, and he decided that’s what’s he’s saving for…!)
“Kind of, yes.”
“But why do you have to go NOW?” More arm grabbing, and pulling me in and MASSIVE big eyed guilt-tripping.
“Well, you know I love you and LIttle P very much? I do also love my job. I like going into London, I like my friends at work, and I’m good at what I do.” (It also gives me a break from you two and your incredibly full-onness , I wanted to add. Oh and I get to snooze on the commute and drink hot drinks, hooray!)
Pause. Waiting for the bit about missing me and don’t go again…
“But what do you even do for your work?”
And then I had to somehow explain my job in TV to a just four year old who lost interest as soon as he’d asked the question and realised Go Jetters had just come on CBeebies.
You see, I don’t feel guilty for going back to work. I do miss the children a lot, and there are good and bad days with the whole work/life juggle thing, but overall I feel proud to be a Mummy who thrives at work, is ambitious in her career and helps pay the bills too. I like that my little boy sees me go out to work as well as his Daddy – I think it sets a good example for him and his future views on equality the workplace (if that doesn’t sound too silly.)
If I’m honest, it also pushes me to make the one and a half weekdays that I don’t work really count too – so we do extra fun stuff and I’m far less ratty with them (weeelllll….).
Anyway, I just feel really lucky to have found my balance. It’s different for everyone, of course, and I don’t judge any decision a Mum makes – stay at home, work from home, full-time, part-time – it’s all bloody hard work.
Featured image: Raw Pixel / Shutterstock