The guilty working mother
When I had my children, I decided to take time off work for nine months. As a freelancer, I received the State maternity benefit and then I was on my own. With Jack, when my maternity leave finished, I eased him into crèche starting with mornings and then extending to afternoons too as work increased. With Holly, I did the same but I also sold my car, bought another one and used the excess cash to keep me at home with her for an extra two months. I am so glad that I made that decision to spend time with her, even though the car I bought still wrecks my head to this day!
Then just over a year ago, when I got the call to audition for TV3's new afternoon show, Late Lunch Live, I thought, happy days. It's the perfect gig for the stage of life I’m at. It meant I could still be a mum first and foremost and be able to work without any interruptions for them or their little lives. I had been offered projects on RTE before but nothing ticked as many boxes as Late Lunch Live did. With this job, I could still put my family first.
So I went for the audition, got the gig and then thought, “Oh God, how will I juggle it all?” But like so many working mums, you just do. It’s exhausting and very stressful at times but you just cope.
I had to settle Holly into crèche the week before I settled myself into TV3. I found it very difficult and cried on my steering wheel in the car park leaving her – I would imagine that she missed me less than I missed her. But thankfully, she settled in, loved every single day and has never looked back. Thankfully, for me and TV3, I am the exact same.
However, there are days when one of the children is sick or days that I’ll miss events when I know that I just can't be there or just days when they want to be with me and me with them. That's hard. I feel guilty. Guilty that I can't physically be in two places at the same time or guilty that I have to leave. I feel guilty that I don’t have more hands or more time in the day. I feel guilty when I know that they'd rather I collected them some days but I can't. Like a lot of working mums (outside the home), I have a job that I can’t just leave, unless of course it was an emergency.
But to be honest, when I wasn't working I felt guilty too. I felt guilty that I couldn't afford to give them all of things that I wanted to. I felt guilty that they were missing other small people and interaction. I felt guilty when I got grumpy from exhaustion and broken sleep. Let’s face it, as mums, we just can't win!
Sometimes I think we are born guilty and it just increases with motherhood. Any conversations I have with my pals will involve some form of guilt. The second mums give birth, we put ourselves under serious pressure to make everything perfect the whole time and if it doesn’t all fall into place, we feel guilty. Guilt doesn’t seem to affect dads as much…or does it? Maybe they are more practical and straight-forward than us or maybe we just over think and over analyse.
Either way, having been on both sides of the fence, twice, we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Welcome to Motherhood!