I am a mum and I work full time. I do not want to get competitive about who has it better, working mums or stay at home mums. I don’t see it as a useful debate and I think the comparison is at best unhelpful and at worst nasty. I also believe that being a mum, although brilliant, is also incredibly tough and unrelenting regardless of your employment status.
Here are some of the things which people said to me, as a working mum, while I was on maternity leave.
Things Not to Say to a Working Mum
‘You don’t want to go back to work’
This is said as a statement of fact. Actually, yes I do. I worked bloody hard to get my qualifications and I am going to use them. Secondly, financially I need to.
‘I would be so uncomfortable leaving my baby in nursery/at a childminder’
Would you? Whoopee. Did I ask for your opinion on my lifestyle choices/child care arrangements? Thought not. Of course it broke my heart a little when I first dropped my children off at nursery. It was far harder for me than either of them. They appeared totally calm. I found myself sobbing in a café where I went to supposedly enjoy ‘me-time’ without my baby. In fact, I spent the first few days sobbing in the vicinity of the nursery as I felt very lost without the person who had been quite literally attached to me for months, on the inside and out.
‘Your kids are in nursery full-time? Oh that is too much at his/her age, poor thing’.
Oh where to begin? Yes they are in full-time. I personally don’t think that it is ideal. If you can cover my mortgage then I will happily go part-time. Financially, the nursery offers a discount for full time. Therefore if I work 4 days, I earn less and pay more in child care which I can’t financially justify. But thanks for making me feel like crap.
‘Can’t your husband pay the bills?’
Firstly, it is not your business what I or my husband earns. Secondly, I have always earned my own money and wish to continue to do so. At the moment, with two small kids in nursery full time, our current situation is financially crucifying. However, I am playing the long game. My kids will go to school. I want them to grow up seeing that both mum and dad work/drive/cook/clean. I loved maternity leave. But I am not personally cut out to be a stay at home mum. I do not say that to imply that it is beneath me. Quite the opposite. I love my children with an intensity that frightens me at times and can literally take my breath away. But that does not mean I want/need to be with them 24/7. I do believe that my children benefit from the social interaction and stimulation of others.
‘You are not a maternal person’
Excuse me? I am a mother of two children that I love with a passion that I have yet to find the words to adequately express. How do you define maternal?
‘You don’t love your kids enough to be with them all the time?’
Please see above. I could not love my kids more. It catches me off-guard and never before have I experienced the feeling of having my heart walk and live and breathe outside my body. But it does. In my children. Also, how very dare you?!
In an ideal world, personally I would work three days a week with a tiny commute and I would have day four with my kids and day five to catch up with jobs/admin.
What this list does not reflect, is that as a person with mild cerebral palsy I cannot physically manage my two tearaways full time on my own. This does not make me happy or proud. It makes me angry and sad and, at times, cry. A lot.
Please, be kind. All of us are doing the best we can. Some days we do great, some days we get by. Being a mum is a wonderful, life-long job. It is also incredibly tough. So let’s hear it for all the mums, those who work in the home or outside it. You are tired. So tired. But you get up the next day and keep going. You are a star.
Find more MOLO blogs about being a working mum here