Now that I’m back at work, I have to question why anyone would ever think we have reason to judge working mums (sorry dads, but for some reason us mums get judged more than you guys on this one). More to the point, why on earth would anyone have anything other than absolute admiration for those mums working full-time?
Related: Why we need to do more for dads
I live in a half-world. I work part-time (four days a week), so I still enjoy the benefits of having days off with my girl. I also get to enjoy the time to myself when I get to the office, log in, steaming hot coffee in hand (oh, the luxury!), brain whirring with possibilities that don’t include pondering how to get the tiny grains of sand out of the crevices of the pram (serious problems, people!).
I have found that since returning to work I feel a kinship to a collection of women that perhaps I didn’t give a lot of thought to before. I look at these women and think “wow”. I think, “look at you, managing this, walking around like your heart isn’t being worn by a little person somewhere”, because that’s the reality of going to work when you have young children. It’s great, and I absolutely want to do it, but while I do my beautiful little girl walks around with all my love on her shoulders, and it is only when I get home and we’re together again that everything feels whole again. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.
These women, these women that the media likes to say are being judged and judging themselves (and maybe they are), are role models. I’m not saying every mother should work, absolutely not, but these women are role models to those who want to do it. For those who want to attempt “having it all” as people delight in saying. Anyone who thinks working and being a Mum is “having it all” is seriously deluded! Life is about so much more – and in some ways, so much less – than that!
So I ask anyone who judges full-time-working mums to really have a think about why you’re judging them, because if you ask me, they’re one of the toughest breed of mother you get, and I admire the shit out of them!
And, if you’re a working mum – or planning on being a working mum – I want to share with you the best advice someone gave me. They said to me, “You are a role model for the generation to come after you. There’s no room for guilt. You need to set the example, and show those women it can be done.” For me, that solved the guilt I felt at running out the door at five o’clock, for prioritising my daughter. Of course I should prioritise her, but I don’t need to feel guilty about it. That advice changed my whole outlook. And you know what? It wasn’t a parent who gave me that advice, so maybe it’s time we stop judging the non-parents out there too.
You might also like: How I feel about returning to work