Working for myself gives me the flexibility to be able to spend time with my boys as well as interact with their schools and Nursery. This sounds perfect, but occasionally a fly enters the ointment and the Working Mum’s guilt kicks in; something that goes alongside being a parent.
For the past two months my three year old has become quite clingy and very upset at Nursery drop off time. It would start when he woke up and claimed that he didn’t like it and didn’t want to go. This continued on the car journey and ended with me in tears as he screamed and I walked away; the age old dilemna of the working parent, vowing not to turn around and catch your child’s eye as they sob and screamed your name in a way that made you feel as though you are offering them up to some wicked child eating God and would never see them again. Working mum’s guilt.
Each day it would take me roughly an hour after I’d dropped him off to calm down and feel less traumatized, and I’m sure you will not be surprised that it took him around 4 minutes to recover and become engrossed it playing with his little friends and forgetting all about his tearful mummy.
During this awful period which I’m sure almost every working parent goes through at some time, I tried every tactic I knew in the book; for crying out loud, he is child number three, surely by now I should be hardened to this and know it’s a phase?! Well no, it appears not, in actual fact the mothers guilt in my experience does not appear to ease with subsequent children and there were days I did question whether I should be working at all. Working mum’s guilt.
The light bulb moment for me came one day two weeks ago when my Mother in law took him. The next day I was reliably informed by her, Nursery and said three year old that not one tear was shed. The following day, my husband took him and again no tears.
For a further week we completely re jigged the morning routine so that my husband could take him and each day no tears.
Then a pinch point; the day arrive when there was only ME left to do the dreaded nursery drop off and I soon realised he knew which buttons to press. As soon as he knew it was me taking him it began: ‘I don’t like nursery, I want to stay at home with you Mummy’ it continued in the car, but this time I was ready!
I pulled myself together and instead of negotiating with him when we arrived; trying to explain how Mummy has to go to work and I wouldn’t be long, my reply that day was ‘Henry, you DO like Nursery because yesterday when I collected you, you didn’t want to leave and you told me how much you love it’. All he said was ‘OH!’ and then he gave me a kiss and a cuddle and off he went to play with his little friends and didn’t even look back.
Thankfully like most things with children it was a phase, but that knowledge and my experience with my other children did not prevent me from doubting my ability as a mother and my choice to work and run my own business.
I wonder what the next guilt trip will be, I’ve only been at it 9 years, I dread to think what’s to come.