Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Half and Whole: Being a Working Mum


At least once a work day, I feel an overwhelming compulsion to drop what I'm doing, turn around and retrace my steps right back to the day care gate as fast as I can.

It's almost as though a pressure lands on my chest, urging me to chuck in the professional towel and cast off my gathered obligations, commitments and professional life choices in favour of the warm hug of play dough and cuddles.

The triggers are usually small things; a child laughing on the tram, a glimpse of my daughter smiling cheekily on the desktop wallpaper, the weekly statement of account from the day care centre landing in my inbox, or finding a piece of chalk or handful of pink hairclips in my pocket while reaching for loose change for my morning coffee.

Sometimes, I feel a sense of personal panic simultaneously grip onto my ovaries and my mind like a vice. Questions slam around me in an anxious frenzy: am I getting the true meaning here, am I missing the best bits, am I doing it right?

Other times, I feel the cold sheet of professional concern creep into my mind. I forecast projected outcomes based on little but emotion and a fluttering of anxiety: can I do this justice, where will I land, how will I even get there?

Most times, I am just knocked out flat by a sense of panicky guilt that I'm letting my daughter, my most precious other little heart with sticky fingers and the cheekiest smile I know, down and further down by the second.

The guilt manifests as a continual sequence of juxtapositions and changing thoughts, influenced by the number of tears at day care drop off multiplied by the quality of the tasks landing on my desk, divided by the drag of the current meter of sleep deprivation clicking through my head.

I suppose this is a living, breathing example of what we all call mummy guilt, a sense of parental anxiety and a feeling of taking too much and giving too little all while just trying to balance the damned scales.

But no matter the approach, the balance never seems quite right. When you have more than one driving force propelling you forward from within, more than one  passion oscillating in your brain, more than one big destination on your radar, the target weights just never seem to line up the right way.  

No matter how you carve up your day or fill up your calendar or dish out your heart, is starts to feel like the grass is always that little bit greener on the other side - whatever that is, however you get there, and whenever you can.

This isn't a problem, and there is no solution. It is just the way it is for me, a permanent straight split, straight out division lanced down the middle of my two intricately fused yet staunchly disparate halves: mother, professional, confused.

I need both halves to make a whole.
I need the whole to house both halves.
And my daughter needs both the halves and the whole mum together.

M x

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  1. Meg, this post has been so beautifully written and so many working mums can relate to this. You are doing the best you can even if you feel torn in half. What I've come to know and learn since having my 3rd child and which forced me to stop being on the tools is that there is no easy choice. No matter which you choose, it will be hard. You could stay home with your child, give up your professional job and worry how you can make ends meet or be bored because the days can slowly drain you away when you're at home with your babe, or you do what you are doing and keep trudging along, but suffer the guilt and torn feelings of being away from your babe and sometimes the financial rewards aren't there because childcare fees hit you hard. I have no answers, but you are right that your daughter needs a whole mum. I hope you are able to make the most of the days together, but also that you get time to be you without the mum hat on too. It's such a juggle. I hope it gets easier for you. xx

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for your beautiful comment Rebecca, I truly appreciate it. The days are hard, but the love, cuddles and rewards are endless and worth every moment xx