real life

"Don't judge me but... I question my working mummy friend's decision."

Why bother having kids in the first place?

Some mothers are lucky enough to stay home with their children. It’s in no way easy. In fact, in many ways it’s the hardest job in the world. I did it for a few years and found it draining, exhausting and isolating.

Other mothers have to return to work to support the family financially, the cost of living these days is just so hard that two incomes is often necessary.

That aside, what I don’t understand is the mothers that return to work on a full time basis and have little to no financial gain to show for it.

My friend is one of these mothers.

She has four children under 5. That’s rough, you can’t deny it. They are all good children though. Run of the mill, stock standard nice kids. But children by nature are tiring.

Since they were all very small babies they have attended daycare. I always assumed that it was because she needed to return to work (like a lot of us) to pay the bills.

Five days work for no financial gain makes no sense to me. Image: istock images

Recently though, she told me that after the cost of daycare for the three of them and travel expenses to and from work, she has nothing to show for working five days a week.

Pardon? I was shocked. Surely, if there is no financial gain to be had from returning to work, you would rather stay home with your children and enjoy the time you can while they are young?

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Apparently not.

She explained that she returned to work because she needed time out. She "needed a break" from the kids. I can understand needing something more than mothering for some women so sure, maybe a day or two a week to give back some much needed adult interaction.

But five days a week?

I'm sorry but to me that makes no sense what so ever. Why bother having children if you don't want to spend any time with them?

You can't tell me that the kids wouldn't like at least one day at home with mum. Image via istockphotos

For five days a week, she packs lunches and snacks, locates backpacks and shoes and drives her children to (two different) daycare centres. She then puts her make up on in the car as she commutes in to the city (a good hour and a half in peak hour traffic) to pay extraordinary prices for parking and works an entire day.... for nothing. Zip. Nada. At the end of the day she picks up her children (usually around 6pm), takes them home for dinner and puts them to bed.

Weekends are not much different for this family either. Every second weekend the children go and stay with the maternal grandparents to give mum and dad some R and R. Excuse me, From what?

I hesitate to judge any mother because we are all just doing our best but in this situation I do have to ask "the best for who?".

I can't believe for one second that the children wouldn't love at least one or two days at home with mum if it's financially viable for the family to do so? I don't understand how she wouldn't want the same for herself.

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In fact, she told me that she wasn't sure if she was the one to see her son's first steps as he could very well have done it at daycare and she didn't know.

She wasn't sure if she witnessed his first steps Image: Istock images

The time that I was fortunate enough to be at home with my kids was special. Looking back, it would make me really sad to even think I missed a period of time and know that it was for nothing.

If you're a stay at home mum then good on you. It really is a tough gig. If you're working to provide the best life for your children, then kudos to you too, you're doing a great job and if you need to work a couple of days a week to give yourself a mental break from Thomas the Tank Engine and Peppa Pig then work away.

But if you spend five days a week, every week apart from your children for no financial gain what so ever, I have to ask the question "Why did you bother having kids in the first place?".

Would you work five days a week for "a break" and no financial gain? Am I wrong to judge?

If, like this reader, you have a dilemma that you would like advice about, please email [email protected] with Don’t Judge Me in the subject field. You will be contacted before publication, and your identity will be protected.

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