I’d been back at work for two months and had been guiltily enjoying being back in adult company, sat at my desk with a warm cup of earl grey tea (or two, or even three) and achieving a page full of to-dos each day, instead of my usual routine of changing half a dozen nappies, sorting the laundry and building duplo houses.
It’s always been important to me to lead a balanced lifestyle with both a good career and loving family and it seemed I had hit the jackpot, working for an award winning full-service marketing firm on the south coast whilst also boasting a beautiful daughter and doting husband.
Not going back to work just wasn’t an option for me. I knew that in the long run, it was best for our family as well as my career. Plus, I was only going back part-time to begin with – the best of both worlds, right? But, after a year of maternity leave, spending the most treasured moments with my little girl (and some bloody stressful times too, of course!), I was dreading the moment I left Madeline for the day to pursue my own ambitions.
Mummy guilt. There is simply no other way to describe it. It eats at you and torments you, especially as you wear a brave face venturing into the boardroom on a Monday morning after the dreaded child-care drop off, leaving your little one sobbing and reaching out for you as you simply walk away.
The silly thing is, while you are having some well needed time out from being a mummy, your bubba is having an absolute whale of a time once they’ve settled (usually as soon as the door closes!). Whether they be at nursery developing their social skills with lots of other precious munchkins (proof that you are not alone in ‘abandoning’ your children for the day!) or on fun day trips with their grandparents or childminders, they always have a really lovely day.
But, on this occasion I was feeling especially guilty. I’d been planning for a client meeting in Manchester for the last month, had worked extremely hard for it and secretly was looking forward to a quiet plane journey, with a nice cup of tea and a good book (The unmumsy mum – such a good read!). Our previous trip to Portugal with our little Maddie Moo had been stressful to say the least, so I was certainly going to make the most of being child-free for this journey!
At 4am I crept into Madeline’s room, where she was so angelicly sleeping, and gave her a big kiss on her cheek before setting off. It was very rare that I was leaving the house before she woke but I knew that Daddy would be greeted with her usual big cheeky grin when she woke and she would be absolutely fine.
My client meeting went well and I must admit, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I could do something other than being a mummy and there was no need for that self doubt I had built up inside me before returning to work. I had done what I set out to achieve and now I could make my way back to the airport and get home to my little girl for the usual bed time routine and give her a big cuddle for leaving her all day.
However, I got back to the airport to see that my flight had been delayed for over two hours. I knew it couldn’t be helped but I couldn’t believe it and literally broke down in the middle of the airport – how embarassing!! I just couldn’t handle the guilt that I would not see my daughter awake at all that day, and more to the point I really missed her!
Life is hard as a working mum. But life can be equally as tough when you are at home looking after a tiny person all day. There really is no right or wrong way and I think mummy guilt will come into play whatever route you take. So, I guess we just have to learn to deal with it.
I was so pleased to get home that evening to find that Madeline’s grandparents had kept her awake for me. And, there are no words to describe the reaction you receive as you walk through the door to be greeted by a smiling baby reaching out for a cuddle. I got to tuck my little girl into bed that night and for that (as well as a successful meeting!), the day was good 💗
Keep going mummies… We are all doing the best we can! X