I’m tired of feeling guilty for being a working mother. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for a long time, ever since I got back to my laptop six weeks postpartum. Going back to work wasn’t an easy decision for me, but it was a vital one, because my family needed the money, and we couldn’t make the rent on my maternity pay.
We often focus on mothers who stay at home to care for their babies, not working. Which is also a valid decision to make, and one that is not easy. But all the viral posts I see relate to non-working mothers (even though raising a baby is a full-time job), and I see comment after comment saying how ‘easy’ people who work have it — because of the toilet breaks, not having to change nappies, and so on.
There is little sensitivity to working mothers, and that’s difficult. I have received so much criticism for my choice to work ever since I sat down at my desk. Working in media as a freelancer means I don’t have the typical nine-to-five. Family members have commented on how I should ‘at least get a normal job’, and have shamed me for working while my baby is still young.
Not that I should have to justify myself, but I work around my baby. Working from home means I am able to do that, and I also have a partner who helps me. I am lucky in that respect.
But being a working mother doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother than any other. It doesn’t mean I don’t get the nappies or the sleepless nights or the playing. It just means that my life is a little different.
I know that my son has everything he needs and that is the main thing. He is happy, healthy, safe, and loved. This is what is most important.
I’m tired of the idea that working mums have it easy when we don’t, and it just reinforces the guilt that we already feel. I feel it constantly, questioning whether I’m doing the right thing, whether I should quit my job, whether I’m not giving my son enough. But this is often because I am focusing on what other people think, and not what I know is best for my family.
Being a working mother doesn’t mean I want to spend less time with my son. It means I am doing what I need to do to support and provide for him. I wish there were more posts about working mothers, and the stigma we face as parents.
I see it in TV shows a lot — Working Moms is a good example of this; the other mothers at the school gates giving dirty looks to the mother who is off to work. It’s not uncommon.
But it’s time to realise that as long as you are doing your best for your child, as long as they are safe and you are protecting them, as long as they are loved, that’s all you can do. That is what makes you a good parent. That is what makes us all valid and equal as mothers.
I am proud to be a working mother — not because I’m working, but because I know I am making the best decision for my family, and for myself. Working is a part of who I am, and always has been. I really enjoy my job, and it’s not something I wanted to give up. And working from home has allowed me to keep doing this, so for that I am really lucky. Working is what makes me feel most like ‘me’, and that’s something I didn’t want to lose after pregnancy. I didn’t want to lose my identity.
I am lucky that I now have two identities that intertwine: I am a mum, and I am someone who loves her job. Of course, I would give everything up for my son in an instant, but I’m tired of feeling shame for admitting that my job is important to me.
I’m tired of the comments and feeling like I’m not good enough as a mother. I’m tired of being told working parents have it easy — especially when you have a baby.
It’s time we all focused on our own lives and what works for us, instead of criticising other parents — this is massively problematic with mothers — and making ourselves feel bad.
Being a parent is hard enough, and we will always feel guilty for things that we don’t need to feel guilty for, because we love our children and want to do our best for them and to give them everything that we have.
So, instead of judging or criticising, let’s move forward and support each other. Let’s look at other mothers and notice what a great job they’re doing. And let’s realise what a great job we’re doing, too.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And that should be a wonderful thing.