Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A different kind of mother's guilt

First thing this morning, we confirmed fulltime childcare provision for Little Planet, to start at the end of April. We have employed a registered mother and daughter childminding team who will look after Little Planet in their own home along with two other small children. The decision wasn't taken lightly: we interviewed them, we checked their reports and references, we viewed their home and watched them with one of their 14 month old charges.

Later on in the morning, we took Little Planet to my office in central London to show her off to meet my work colleagues for the first time. I was brought up to date on some of the new clients our company has acquired over the eight months I have been away.

I am not feeling guilty about leaving Little Planet in the care of others - far from it: I believe she will thrive in the sociable and stimulating environment fostered by these two childcare professionals. These women do far more with their charges than I do with my baby. I am the only mother in my antenatal group (bar one other) who doesn't need to return to work for financial reasons and I am the only mother who has not felt guilty about leaving my baby in the care of others.

Instead, I am feeling guilty about my strong desire to return to work - and fulltime to boot. Regular readers of this blog will know that, as much as I adore Little Planet and think of her practically every minute of my day, I have found the practicalities of motherhood quite monotonous. I yearn for the cut and thrust and variety of my job. Moreover, I have always been ambitious and very focussed and am eager to get back on the career ladder. And as a mother I feel that I shouldn't feel this way.

It's a different kind of "mother's guilt" that I am experiencing.


Bombay Beauty said...

My mother went back to work 6 weeks after I was born, and I did fine... A loving nanny, nurse, childcare provider can look after a baby wonderfully, with attention and patience and affection. But children always understand the difference between the nanny and their mothers. This is how we were raised in India, whether by an aaya or grandparent, and it turned out well.

And as they age children become autonomous; they have friends, and school, and what matters more is the quality of time you can give them.

So that's my attempt at saying, what you're feeling is natural, but don't worry.


WA said...

I am sure little P will thrive in the new environment, my lad did. He is still in touch with some of the kids he met as a 10 month old. As to the ambition part, I don't see why not, good for you. Good luck Planet.

Lavs said...

What is guilty about feeling ambitious? Trust me when I say every mom feels monotonous about raising kids at some point in time or other. Just that they do not come out in open and admit it. How I wish such childcare options are available in India. I wish to work at least part time but with no one to raise my kid, I have nil options but to stay at home.

Planethalder said...

Thank for your comments. I have no guilt whatsoever about leaving Little Planet in fulltime childcare (both my parents worked fulltime and I was in childcare from 8 months old - and I turned out fine and have always been very close to my parents).

However, I feel guilty about wanting to return to work so eagerly (it is the eagerness that is key to my feeling of guilt here, not the fact of returning to work per se) when all mothers I know are not as eager as me to return (even though they have to for financial reasons).

In ordinary circumstances I have no guilt about being ambitious - but being a mother changes peoples' notions of how a mother should feel and act - especially working mothers - even in today's society.

Olivia said...

I have no idea what to say since I have no comparison. My mother left her job when she had me, even though they asked her back for nearly a year, and this was in the 70s!
I have no idea what I would do if i were you. I too would probably return to work, since by the time I have kids, I will have struggled for so long to establish my career that I ain't about to give up.

Anyway, it will be good for LP to socialize with other babies, especially in as nurturing an environment as the one you have found for her. She may not be so clingy when she comes to later separation stages and may be faster at adapting.

Knowing you and M, you'll have wonderful evenings, weekends, and days off together.

Olivia said...

Eh, can I reword the last sentence?

"Knowing you and M, you will be more than capable of spending wonderful evenings, weekends, and days off with your daughter".

Noodlehead said...

first time here :) nothing to feel guilty about. i was equally eager to get back to work when i had my baby and she did just fine without me! of course, now i have quit my job for other reasons and there's not a day that goes by where i don't wish that I hadn't. I feel giulty for being so desperate to be back at work. Sigh. So yeah, I know where you're coming from.

Priyanka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Priyanka said...

PH, don't feel guilty. I don't think there is any specific way that mothers are supposed to feel. If you are happy with the arrangement made for your baby then thats all that counts.
If I were in the US now then things would have been different. I might have continued working. I trust the childcare providers out there a lot, I've seen what good care they take of our little ones.
Out here, its not the same.

Cheers to getting back on the job! Have fun!

poplife said...

Planet- this post moved me so much because you are clearly suffering over something that should be a great time in your life. It makes me so angry that our society puts these pressures on "good mothers". Not only should you return to work, but make sure you're filled with longing and remorse that you're not home, changing every diaper too!

Why can't you be hard-charging at work, enjoying every moment there, advancing a career you've spent years fostering, and still be a great mother too? It's just a cultural myth, passed on through the ages, that you can't have both. Who would question a man's dedication to his children just because he was highly ambitious at work? So many people actually think less of men who would sacrifice success/money just to stay home with children. These are old molds that no on really fits into anymore, nor should they.

I think you being a fully engaged, happy human being is the best thing you can do for your daughter. You SHOULD be excited about going back to work. I completely respect women who stay home with children, too. Why can't we all just be respectful of every individual's choices?

If you enjoy your job, and your life as a mother, I think that's the very best example you could set for your daughter (who's too cute for words, btw).