In case you missed the blahblah memo, I’ve started working full time, and with the change in routine I’ve developed a healthy dose of working-mother guilt. Before I was a mum full time, a wife full time, a freelance worker (so, somewhere between ‘every waking minute’ and ‘not at all’); and yet somehow I felt like half of nothing. Now I feel fulfilled, there is guilt for dessert. Almost like a woman with kids isn’t a proper mother unless she puts part of herself away and leaves it there until her kids give their blessing for her to go and retrieve it, many years later when it may no longer be there. I’m not saying this is how it is, just how I feel.
Where does our identity come from in our 30s when so much of our 20s is centred around a working persona? I’ve been wrangling with this for some time now, in my search for work satisfaction – be it part-time or freelance. The right job came along, but with it full time hours. I talked it over with the girls who are excited to go to before and after school care (so far…). It will mean a lot to me, personally, to have a separate identity outside the home again.
Even freelancing, my work in the home office was always without clear boundaries, with loads of washing here, pickups there, and hours that extended late into the night at my computer. My thoughts on working identity are a post for another day. Right now? This little worker bee is loaded up with guilt about how much I love being back at work in an office.
Sitting at my desk at 9 each morning feels so natural for me, it’s like I stepped back in time 10 years and misplaced a couple of kids along the way.
Working mother guilt. My new buddy, like a pet dog that lives in my handbag. We’ll call him Bob. Bob catches the train with me every day. He barked like an annoying MOFO when I missed the first infants’ sports carnival on Day 3. He made me buy lots of charity pens and daffodils on Daffodil Day, in case each seller at 200 m intervals in the city thought I hadn’t bought anything, since I purchased from the first schoolgirls I saw off the train that morning. (Does anyone else’s brain work this way?!)
Bob tells me going to the gym would be a selfish indulgence now I’m gone so much. Bob is probably letting my littlest get away with a bit more bad behaviour than usual, and a bit more clingy ‘mummy’ behaviour too, because, transition. Change. I did it to her. Stupid dog. Bob even tells me to eat Tim Tams in the office far too often, and I’m sure he’s the evil little bugger who arranged for my skin to breakout. That dog has powers. Powers to the nth arsehole degree.
I’d euthanase the dog, but I don’t need to. I just feed him a lovely barista-made coffee, a toilet break with a closed door and nobody yelling, and a healthy dose of work respect, and POOF! He’s gone. His stupid fluffy little head tucks back into the recesses of my handbag.
That’s right, people. I said RESPECT. That’s what’s been missing, and what I’ve found back at work. The jury’s still out, but it *may* be even more important than money.
Among the other perks, aside from a choice of coffee, respect, lunch breaks, shops, RESPECT and the knowledge that my brain won’t atrophy, is the train. My spoilt 20s-self thought the train was a hardship to be endured. Now it’s an uninterrupted 40 mins of quiet time, just for me, twice a day, when I couldn’t be doing washing or sweating it out in a Pump class even if I wanted to. Take THAT, Bob.
I’m excited about this new bend in the lane. Bob is a fluffy dog, small and manageable. I’ll turn him into a football at some point, when I’m ready to let him go.
Do you carry around a mother-guilt dog in your handbag? What do you feed him to shut him up?