THE REAL COST OF BEING A MUMPRENEUR
I don't know whether it's because I've been working a lot recently or whether it's because she's getting older, but being a driven and hardworking woman who happens to also be a mum just got a lot harder.
Marley's a lot more chatty than when I was last working full time (over a year ago now) and the questions have started coming. 'Where are you going mummy?', 'are you going to work again?', and the sometimes heart warming, other times heart aching 'can I come to work too?'
Hearing working parents who said they felt guilty over leaving their child at home used to be something of amusement for me. I was like come on, seriously?! Be a great role model and work your ass off! Enjoy it! But then my daughter grew up, and she started to notice. None of this would be a problem had I not noticed a change in her behaviour and there being an undercurrent of my own guilt for being absent so much.
Recently I've been leaving the house before 730 and not getting home till gone 8. Most of the time my husband Jason has done the getting ready in the morning, breakfast, evening bathing and bedtime stories. It's been lopsided for sure, my shoddy contributions being an oven cooked dinner if he's lucky! Now and then Jason asks for a little bit of his own time to do things, and it's rare that there's even time for that. He's so incredibly supportive and excited for me about everything that 95% of the time he picks up my slack without even blinking an eyelid. When he does understandably have a teeny tiny moan or tell me that there's a possibility that I may be ever so slightly consumed with my own 'stuff', I get incredibly defensive - largely due to my own shitty guilty feeling about leaving him all of it. It usually ends in a row that makes me feel a bit selfish and sheepish.
The opportunities are coming thick and fast which is all bloody exciting, but I can't help but be aware of the impact that has on my family.
Marley cries when I go to work sometimes and holds on to my legs as I try to go out of the front door. The other day I popped out to the shop and she asked Jason if I'd gone to work again, so clearly she's noticing my absence. Half of me thinks it's great for her to have a strong female figure who's working hard, the other half wonders if deep down a parent / child bond needs to come above all and if that's actually more important to them than a strong working role model (that happens to be a woman). It's nothing to do with whether it would be the same if Jason was working loads and I was at home, because I know it would. They share a bond that is equally as strong as mine and Marley's and she would react the same way.
Am I more torn over the role of being a working parent than a man might be? Perhaps. Is that down to traditional society stereotypes about working mums? I think it adds to it, yeah. Not because anyone makes me feel bad, in fact I've only ever received praise from my peers, but because maybe I feel I have a point to prove - That it IS possible to be a hard working mother and have every thing hunky dory all of the time at home. But maybe it's not all that easy.
There has to be a balance, and I suppose we are all in constant pursuit of it. This week I have three days at home with Marley, and I have to say I am relishing every moment of it (when she's not having a tantrum at 1am about the milk running out).
I guess this all just begs the question, is it ever possible to work your ass off as a parent and not feel guilty?! I'm working on it!