I often used to say I went back to work because I needed to stimulate my brain. But it’s time to talk about the real reasons for the apparent ‘lack of brain stimulation’ I got from raising my own children. I want to talk about my real reasons for going back to work because, if I’m honest, I know it was NOT because parenting was that easy that it was making me dumb and I needed to go to the gifted and talented class for adults. It was because parenting was way harder than I had ever imagined.
For me, going back to work was easier. I did the work, I got paid, I got to buy nice things, society patted me on the back for being a working mum, no one was allowed to judge me, I knew where I stood and I was among other adults having rational conversations over coffee rather than having a toddler scream at me about the colour of his cup.
I blame my rush back to work on 25 years of solid career woman pep talks that caused me to undervalue the importance of the role I would play as a mother, to have no understanding of precisely why that role was important and to completely underestimate how crucial it is that we spend time on our kids. I have just spent three years unlearning two decades of social conditioning and learning how to love being with my kids.
I literally had to read books on how to play and interact with them. Not packing the dishes or checking emails while they are in the same room, but actually giving them my time and my full attention. Is it sad that I had to learn that? Maybe a little, but not as sad as crying ‘mum guilt’ and never trying to address my own shortcomings as a parent in the first place. I was bored with my kids because I found it difficult to connect with them, not because of some kind of intellectual superiority.