As I prepare to return to the workforce after 15 months of looking after my two boys I am torn in two. One side of me is terrified of the potential negative affects that my absence will bring, the other is excited to be going back out in to the world and dealing with adults every day. A third side is the constant guilt that seems to sit in the pit of my stomach whatever I do.
My guilt is mainly based on the conundrum most Mums face at one time or another that is, “Are working Mums sub-standard to stay-at-home ones?” Society seems to be split down the middle on this, and each side passionately highlights the pros of their view. For me despite Motherhood being the most rewarding, fascinating and important work I have done to date, I need to maintain a sense of purpose outside of being a Mum and housewife. I also need a break from the relentless intensity of Motherhood. But does that mean I am being selfish and shirking my primary responsibility to my children?
And then a thought occurred to me, maybe I am thinking about this the wrong way. Surely who you are, rather than how much time you spend, has so much more influence on how your children develop? When you hear about children who are traumatised it is rarely because of a Mother working, and more likely to be based on the mental health, or lack thereof, of their parents. I can’t help but think that all this focus placed on whether Mothers who go to work should never have had children, would be better placed on ensuring the stability of all Mothers.
Having grown up under the care of a lovely but very anxious stay-at-home Mother, I believe the greatest gift you can give your children is your own security. The saying goes “Happy Mum=Happy Child”, but I think ‘happy’ may be too glib. Happiness for me is just a symptom of something altogether more profound and that is an inherent belief in and acceptance of self.