Some time ago, R’s Mom had tagged me to do a post on mommy guilt. At that time I had felt that I hadn’t really experienced it because although I did a lot of things that would make other women feel guilty, I was clear in my head that I didn’t. Feel guilty that is.
But over the weekend, talking to my friend and keeping my eye on the clock and when I should head home to my babies, I realised I had been fooling myself. Of course, I was a victim of mommy guilt. That’s why I went back to work.*
Going back to work freed me because it allowed me to have socially-sanctioned me-time. If I choose not to work, I’d have 11 hours a day more with my kids and out of those 11 hours I could quite easily take 5 or 6 hours a day out just for myself because if my kids could do fine for 11 hours without me, they would more than manage for 5.
But I know that I would not take 5 hours of me time because I would feel guilty. I suspect I would feel like I should be maximizing that time with my kids and that time away was time not well spent. It might even work in a deviously circuitous way – since I am not working to be with my kids, be with them I must.
Is this how you feel, SAHMs? Or do you get over it at some point, when the fact that you have 24/7 ad infinitum to be with your kids sinks in and you actually able to take time off them without feeling like you’re cheating somewhat? Do I feel like I should be rushing back because I am aware that I don’t have unlimited time?
I’m not sure. Even when I was on maternity leave and knew I had weeks on end to devote to the baby, I would feel the clock ticking on me when I was away. Part of it was breastfeeding of course and the alarm in your head that’s always buzzing, telling you your baby might start crying for food anytime now, which is one more reason why breastfeeding is such a stress. But it’s more than that because I sense mums who feed their babies formula feel this baby-clock too.
Now that it has become socially acceptable for women to leave their kids at home and go to work, so much so that a reverse tide is turning against women who stay at home accusing them of wasting their talent and education, it’s just easier to go back to work. I never thought of myself as being that susceptible to What Society Says, but if I’m honest the balm of social sanction was the only one to calm the pulsating guilt in my head and that’s why work is the only form of extended me-time I could allow myself to have.
*Okay, the money and financial independence helps. And I like my work. But still.