Let me start with this disclaimer. I am completely in support of women who choose to work. And I acknowledge the women who would so desperately rather be at home, but out of financial necessity have to work full time. It is my choice to work only small amounts from home. It is my choice to have babies and forgo my career. This is my story and these are my personal circumstances. I support choice. And the simple fact I feel it necessary to even write this disclaimer, for fear of finger pointing, pisses me off.
I am in a lucky position that we can afford for me to be a full time, stay at home Mum. I say lucky, because for me I think these early years when my babies are still babies are precious. For me, I know how important it is for my babies to look to me, and my husband, for their daily needs. Without fail, I’m always there to pick them up when they fall, give them kisses and watch them grow. I’m their go-to person.
Since my first child was born nearly 4 years ago, I have relished in my role as Mum. I now have three children, my youngest is 6 months and my second born is 2 and-a-half years old. Before my third child was born, people would say you’re such a natural mother and you seem so relaxed. And you know what, most of the time I was. I was really enjoying it.
I remember hearing a friend say she had “reached her patience threshold” with two children and would not be having a third. At the time, I thought to myself how I had not reached that threshold. How, I was at times grumpy, bored and annoyed, but I hadn’t reached a “patience threshold”. As I lay my hands on my swollen belly, I remember wondering to myself how I would cope with three children under four. Would I be able to do it?
Well, I don’t think I can. Not with the same relaxed manner as before. I’ve changed, I’m uptight.
I’m struggling. I’ve reached my “patience threshold” and as a result I am paralysed with guilt. I feel guilty for wishing my children would go and sit in another room far away from me, but most parent’s feel like that at least once a day, don’t they? Mostly, I feel guilty for even thinking a couple of days working outside of the home would make me a better mother. I made a pact to my children when they were inside my belly that I would not leave them. My two eldest children go to childcare for one day a week, to prepare them, and me, for kindy. The thought of leaving them any longer tears me apart. The thought of not giving my baby the same undivided care as her two sisters pulls at my heart. The guilt of even thinking about it is eating away at me.
But, I am not being the mother I want to be. I am beginning to realise that I am spending too much time with my children. I am shouting more, I cringe when they shout demands at me. Today, I put a packet of biscuits in a bowl on the kitchen floor and told them to eat as many as they wanted because I couldn’t deal with them haranguing me for food anymore. There are days that instead of waking up with a smile on my face, I have a tight knot in my tummy. I look at the clock willing it to be 5pm so I can have a glass of wine. That’s not what motherhood is meant to be like, well not the way I do it anyway. I’m a fun Mum.
Once my eldest starts kindergarten in a couple of months, I think I will have a different perspective, but until that time I know I need a bit more time to myself because I’m scared my babies will forget that relaxed, self assured mother they once had. I want to find her again. I want to get that damn “patience threshold” monkey off my back.
PS: I wrote this post after a particularly trying few days. After I saved it to my drafts folder I skyped my husband this message: “Wednesday’s are now mine”. So, from this week I will head to his office space and work on his business and my freelancing. He will do all things kids. He’s happy, I’m happy and what matters most to me in the world; the kids will be happy.
How have you dealt with the guilt of working or not working?
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