Mummy guilt. I thought that by being a work from home mum I’d avoid it. After all I didn’t need to feel guilty about leaving my children all day every day to go out to work. And I didn’t need to feel guilty about neglecting myself and my career while staying home and focusing on my children. Surely I had the best of both worlds? Wrong. It appears that I caught the mummy guilt bug.
My partner gave me a bit of a wake up call this evening which hit me pretty hard: he told me that I am spending too much time in the study and that it’s not nice that I get frustrated when the kids are in there. Of course I interpreted this as “You’re a crappy mother who is neglecting her children”. But also – my time in the study is not all spent in the study and it’s hard not to get frustrated when I have a baby crying or a toddler climbing on me while I’m trying to work. So here’s a “day in the life” of a work from home mum.
We all got up at a really reasonable time – about 8:30. The reason we all slept late was because the baby was awake and unsettled all night. He possibly has chicken pox, or maybe hand foot and mouth. The only time during the night he was not attached to me was when I had my partner hold him while I pee’d and then while I gave him some Panadol. I asked my partner to get up with the kids so I could have 5 mins to stretch out in the bed, alone, with no baby attached to my boob. This doesn’t happen very often. I also yelled out that I’d love a coffee. So DP (dear partner, for those unfamiliar with internet shorthand) and Little Miss almost 3 made me coffee. I got up, grabbed my coffee, advised that the one Little Miss made was far superior, and headed out to the study. This is usually the time when I check facebook notifications and plan for the day ahead. Sometimes I play candy crush while I wait for the coffee to kick in and I jot down some notes for blog posts. I also update my business facebook page with articles and memes found in my newsfeed, do any adminning required on the VBAC support page that I moderate and catch up with my newsfeed.
Not long after I headed out I noticed that the kids were playing outside. Then I noticed that they were playing out the front (unsupervised, in other words). Realising that DP either didn’t know where the kids were or didn’t care I popped around the front and spent some time staring at my beautiful children sitting side by side on the step holding hands and engaged in a very deep conversation. Then I herded them back around the back. And popped back into the study to keep “working”. I telephoned the doctors to book Little Dude in so we could confirm what he has. I herded the kids back around the back. After discussing the plans for the day I discovered that DP wasn’t all that impressed with the idea that the plan involved him watching Little Miss all day.
So, feeling crappy already I popped back out to the study. Within minutes Little Dude was standing at the door crying. So I took him inside for some boob. While we were in there Little Miss had popped outside to help her dad with something. Then I heard the whipper snipper start up…Great…not much chance of the baby napping with that going on outside his window. And Little Miss sounded like she was outside and upset…But I figured she was supervised and Little Dude looked like he was drifting off. Then Little Miss’s crying became more insistent so I headed out to the door to see what was going on. She was rather hysterical as I let her in, telling me “Daddy ran over my knee with the lawn mower”. So I calmed her down. Then had a (very!) brief shower while trying to keep the kids out of my bathroom cupboard.
Deciding that it would probably not be a good idea to leave Little Miss with her dad, I got both kids loaded up for a trip to the doctor. We got there to find the doctor was running late so we went to get a muffin in the hopes that would keep Little Miss amused until the doctor was ready. It didn’t. We managed to get in and out with only one tantrum from Little Miss. The diagnosis for Little Dude is still in dispute – the doctor took swabs and will let me know if it’s chickenpox.
Once home I realised I was likely running late for my 2pm meeting with the web designer. And having resolved to take Little Miss it was unlikely I’d make up much time. I (nicely!) asked DP if he could watch the kids for half hour while I prepared for the meeting suggesting that he could give them lunch. When I popped back inside at 1:30 I was told that no-one had eaten as the sausage rolls weren’t ready yet. Okay. I got him to package some up as we raced out the door. Little Miss seemed to be working efficiently and she was in the car and we were away before I knew it…Glad someone senses the urgency!!
We arrive with a minute or two to spare and head up to the meeting. I introduce myself and we get set up. I pop down a blanket for Little Miss to sit on and eat her sausage rolls – asking her to please get the crumbs on the blanket! I feel rather embarrassed and unprofessional having my child with me at this meeting…but we’ll make do. For the first time ever she’s finished eating within minutes and looking for something else to do. We muddle through. A lot of the conversation with the website guy involves me actually watching Little Miss and I wonder if he thinks I’m rude because I’m not making much eye contact. Anyway – they’re going to e-mail me a couple of quote options. I’m looking forward to getting a website!!
Grocery shopping is then achieved with little fuss – YAY! We get back to the car and I realise I’ve eaten nothing but half a banana muffin and a few cups of coffee all day – maybe that “unexplained” weight loss I was telling DP about isn’t so unexplained after all. When I get home I grab a muesli bar and flop onto the couch while DP brings the groceries in and unpacks them. I always regret getting him to unpack, because I know I won’t be able to find anything…but today I don’t care.
At some point we have a conversation about Little Dude’s doctor appointment and I commented that he wouldn’t be able to go to daycare on Wednesday. I must have looked sad about that as that’s when DP made the comment about how I spend too much time in the study anyway. It’s worth noting that yes I am a little sad that I won’t have a day where I can just hang out in the study, but I’ll also have to miss my personal training session on Wednesday. And I was planning to take Little Dude to my dietician appointment tomorrow, which now may not be possible. I’ll call them in the morning and ask if they mind if I bring my spotty baby with me. So I was feeling pretty crappy. In my head I was wondering how I would tell my hypnobirthing Australia trainer that I just wasn’t going to be able to finish my certification…maybe I could just delay it for a while? And it was looking likely that I would be a student doula (instead of a certified one) for the rest of my life. Then I went out to my garden to find my pumpkin vine was butchered by the whipper snipper. So I sat in my garden and cried.
Now – yes, I know that my irrational feelings stem from guilt. I feel guilty every single time I step into my study. I feel guilty every time I do any work on my phone. I feel guilty every time I book in a client visit as I wonder who I’m going to be inconveniencing by asking them to baby sit. I feel guilty every time I look at how messy my house has become and every time DP does any housework – because he works nights and I’m aware that he needs to sleep sometimes too. I feel guilty for neglecting my friends. I feel guilty because I was considering getting a nanny or a cleaner or something to help me with my guilt.
Then I realised something. Why should I feel guilty? The work that I do and that I plan to do is IMPORTANT. It’s important, not just for the women that I help, but for my family as well. I want my children to grow up seeing birth as normal and not something to be terrified of. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that no-one has a right to tell her what to do with her body or how to birth her baby. I want my son to grow up knowing that birth isn’t just “women’s business” and that men can have an important role to play. The aim of my work – that every mother comes through pregnancy and birth believing that she is strong, powerful and capable of making the best decisions for her family – is important. I also believe it’s important for children to see their mothers feeling passionate and inspired. I believe I’m setting a good example, not by working as such, but by doing work that I love. I will never encourage my children to enter careers they aren’t passionate about.
So that was my day. Oh, and then I came out here to my study, after both children were in bed and DP had gone to work and I wrote out this blog post. It’s now 11:24pm and I’m giving consideration to getting some things done as I know I won’t be able to tomorrow. A reasonably typical day for this work from home mum – except that I’m usually in bed around 9. How about you? Any amazing revelations to be found in the chaos of your own day?