When I tell people that I have just come back to work after four glorious months on maternity leave, I am not at all surprised by the look of confusion/shock/pity that spreads across some of their faces, and of course the tone of sympathy in their voices.
“Oh wow; no way Alice. REALLY?” they almost say. “That must be so sad leaving little King.” Then: “Tell me, how are you finding it?”
I’ll how I find it: OK, actually! I’m upbeat and positive and doing a great job. And my baby will turn out just fine despite the hours I spend away from him. Relenting to the guilt that tries to grab hold of my conscience each time I parrot the phrase “I am a working mum”, I will not. Capitulating to such guilt does no one any good. What does do plenty of good however is embracing my short-falls as a mother, and refocusing my precious energy on what truly matters: ensuring that Kingsley knows that he is wanted, loved, and loveable, no matter what – and that he shall benefit in the long run from having me as a role model on how to live a rewarding life.
Here’s the scoop: I choose to combine being a mummy and working. Trade-offs are inevitable. But I tell you what helps me find peace: reconciling those trade-offs by being clear about why I are making them in the first place. Here is a start: money, satisfaction, sanity, sense of belonging, contributing to the formation of a new society (modern day Dubai), as a building block to returning to Australia, setting our family up for financial freedom come our time to emigrate back, camaraderie of colleagues and more. Yes, working is important to me, personally.
In any case, I didn’t have a baby in order to spend my life feeling forever inadequate. I wanted this child to enrich my life, not enslave my conscience. Heck, what is the ‘right way’ when it comes to raising children? All I know is that the choices that I make contribute to me feeling whole, healthy and happy – as a mum to King, a wife to Erroll, and colleague to my team at the office.
So here I am scribing away late at night after a heavy day in the office. The baby is passed out in our bed, me leaning over his little body as I type away, and reflecting just now that I do what I do to stay happy, good humored and connected.
Is there a need to feel guilty about that? No way.