I was woken up this morning by my three-year-old smacking me across the face. I was obviously still only half conscious as I thought that maybe if I continued to lie there with my eyes closed he’d too see how good sleep is and give it a bit more of a chance.  I desperately wanted to go back to dreaming about lying on a tropical island sipping a cocktail while a gorgeous French man named John Paul massaged my feet while telling me how thin and gorgeous I am (it’s my dream – don’t knock it!). But alas, the minds of three year old’s don’t work like that.  I managed to open my sleep deprived eyes enough to see his little shaggy mop of bed hair and big green eyes staring back at me, “am I staying with you today Mummy?” he mumbled while sucking his fingers and clutching his little teddy as tightly as I hold my wine. I was lost with guilt. “No, my darling”, I said squeezing him tight, “Mummy has to work today so you’re going to have a day with granny”. 

“Do you ever feel guilty about going to work instead being with the children?” I asked my husband, he looked at me baffled as if the thought had never entered his mind, either that or he knew I was still half dreaming about my tropical adventure with a man called John Paul. He explained that he never feels guilt because he see’s looking after his family as a responsibility, or a duty, that he is fulfilling. 

Why is it that us mums feel guilty about everything? If we’re at work we feel guilty for not being with our children, if were at home with the children we feel guilty for not working. Is it just me or did having children immediately turn all of us into a vessel of never ending mum guilt? (along with many other things being a mum has turned us into) I must have missed that memo at birthing class. 

I’m lucky to have female colleagues who are amazingly strong confident smart successful women. They can negotiate any business deal like a true boss babe but the second we start talking about our children’s whereabouts while we’re working has us all fumbling trying to justify, (to ourselves), why they are where they are. Likewise, when I chat to females who are home with their children they always seems to comment about how they are either thinking of returning to work or, if working part time, that they have also done a bit of work that day. I’m not saying we’re lucky enough to have the choice, even if I did have a choice I would still choose to work as I think demonstrating to my children the importance of hard work is a fabulous life lesson, but why are we so consumed by guilt? Shouldn’t we instead be bragging about how we manage to multi task and juggle hundreds of balls daily?

We have all discussed and agonised over this dilemma, work vs staying home, what’s better what’s worse, we may as well start scrutinising what comes first the chicken or the egg, but my question to the other mums out there is how do you do it? How do you deal with the never-ending guilt we all feel? Or maybe I should just suck it up, accept that’s part of being a mum and go back to dreaming about John Paul.

Guest post by Olivia Stawaski

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