Working mum’s guilt

So, I did it, I’ve returned to the work force.  Maternity leave is behind me and now I’m back in the world of work and frighteningly it’s like I’ve never been away!  Mostly in a good way.  I’m two weeks in and I have to say, being back at work, while it is a bit overwhelming at times, trying to get my head around everything, by and large you know, it’s actually fine.  Well, that is, apart from “the guilt”….

Being a Catholic by persuasion, I know a fair bit about guilt.  I’ve grown up feeling pretty guilty about most things, even those things I don’t really have much to feel guilty about, it’s just something inherent in me I think.  But, even with my experiences of guilt to date, this is guilt on a new level.  The guilt of abandoning my child Monday to Thursday and spending about 10 hours a day away from her, commuting and/or working.

I feel guilty that I drop her off at nursery and she looks sad if she sees me go through the door (even though I know she’s actually fine less than 60 seconds later when she’s merrily chomping on toast).

I feel guilty as I walk away from nursery, heading towards the station, a lump in my throat, thinking about the fact that my little boo is there without her mummy (even though actually the reports from nursery are that she’s having a whale of a time).

I feel guilty as I ride on the train to work, checking my blackberry and answering emails, that I am then in work mode and my mind isn’t filled with thoughts of my baby girl.  Bad mummy.

I feel guilty that I spend my time all day with colleagues, with clients, and not with my own child. Bad bad mummy.

I feel guilty that come the afternoon, when I’m enjoying a cup of tea while it’s still hot, my baby girl is possibly wondering where her mummy is and whether or not I’m coming back for her (even though when I get her diary for the day it will say she had a grand old time playing in the sandpit for the afternoon or shaking maracas and reading books).

I feel guilty that when I get home from work the only time we spend together is dinner – bath time – bottle – bedtime (although she doesn’t seem too bothered by that!).

I feel guilty that come the morning, I have to get her up and off to nursery by 8am and do it all over again.

But…. if she didn’t seem to be her usual happy, smiley, laughing self, then I would perhaps feel more guilty than I already do (is that possible?!).  She does genuinely seem to be thriving and enjoying herself at nursery, despite the probably to be expected mini wobble each morning at drop off.  I guess I have to remember that it’s all still early days and we’re both still adjusting to this new routine, this new way of life.  I just hope I don’t look back and feel I’ve missed out on so much…. that would be guilt overload!

This post is also published over on the Emma’s Diary blog today.

13 thoughts on “Working mum’s guilt

  1. So pleased that things are going well and hopefully the guilt will pass when you see how happy she is playing the day away with her friends. I’m 9 months in to my return to work and while it’s still difficult, I see my LO progressing so well and interacting with his little friends. Chin up! And know that you’re doing your best.

    • Thank you, yes maybe the guilt will fade a bit – at the moment I just keep thinking I would hate her to ask me, when she’s like 18 or something, why didn’t you want to stay home with me instead of going to work?… I do think she’s progressing faster since she’s been at nursery though, lots of stimulation and she’s buzzing! 🙂 x

  2. Arrgh just commented and lost the whole thing because I wasn’t signed in 😦
    To recap what I think I said: I so know how you feel, it is hell! It does get easier… kind of… or maybe you just get more used to it… I am not sure 🙂
    My SAHM friends are wracked with the same guilt as the only caregiver, whether they are providing enough attention or stimulus. It seems there is no escape from the guilt when you become a mum, whether you work or not! Be kind to yourself RM xx

    • You’re totally right. If I was a SAHM I’d be worrying that I wasn’t giving Allegra enough attention, stimulation, etc etc. It’s no win isn’t it?! And I must say she does seem to be thriving at nursery… hopefully it’ll get easier. Looking forward to seeing you next week xxx

  3. Hun I feel like this all the time but you need to just think that at some point they will be going off to school anyway, and RB will be much more capable and able of being settling into school life because she has done it at nursery. You working will be bringing in money that means she will have a better quality of life and also although I am sure she misses her Mummy loads, when you aren’t there I bet she is having an absolute ball and that will only get better as she gets older.
    Plus you are a Mummy but also you are you, and you shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because you have a career that interests you and that you enjoy. We are all different and we need to remember that, just because there are Mums at there who choose not too work, there are lots of Mums who want too. xx

    • Thank you sweetie, yes you’re right I know. I just wish sometimes I could have pressed the pause button and remained in those glorious maternity leave days… they were so awesome! But nothing stays the same eh? And yes, I can see that RB is really coming on fast since she’s been at nursery, so I think it is good for her and I can’t keep her all to myself forever I guess… 🙂 xx

  4. i think any mum who returns to work and has to leave their little one with anyone who isn’t them is amazing! I haven’t had to this as i am currently a full time SAHM but talk of sending Burton to nursery is cropping up at home and I cannot stand the thought of taking him and leaving him somewhere on his own without me!!!
    don’t feel guilty though as it sounds like she enjoys herself and the time you sound together must be so much more precious. (hugs) xx

  5. This post made me smile; it’s our job to feel guilty – they don’t tell you that in the manual, but once you become a parent who goes back to work after having a baby, it just comes with the territory. I guess the fact that she’s doing great at nursery is a massive relief; leaves you to enjoy your independence and will help you to overcome the guilt.

    I reckon you’ve nothing to feel guilty of.
    CJ x

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