Dads can do it, so why can't mums?
Dads can do it, so why can't mums?

Dads can do it, so why can't mums?

MY CHILDREN are loved. They are well taken care of, played with, clothed and fed. They are beautiful little boys.

You would think that should be enough, but because I have chosen to go to work for more days than I stay at home with them, to some it seems to make me less of a mother.

I still wipe their bottoms and change nappies. I still get up to them in the middle of the night. I comfort and soothe. I read and dance and play with them. I just don't spend 24 hours a day with them any more.

I never realised that when I had children the expectation on me was that I would forgo anything that had previously defined me as a person and give everything up for the title of Mummy.

I never realised that when I had children the expectation on me was that I would forgo anything that had previously defined me as a person and give everything up for the title of Mummy.

Forget all the money I spent getting a university degree.

Forget all the time and effort I spent building a career I love.

Forget the fact I had social networks and outside interests other than my family.

After working two days a week for the past three-and-a-half years (with a bout of maternity leave thrown in) a job opportunity came up at work that was four days a week.

It was a big decision for my husband and I. I hadn't planned to return to work that much until our boys were a bit older than three-and-a-half and one-and-a-half.

But it was a good professional opportunity, one that wouldn't wait and still be there when I was ready.

And I had struggled being at home. Where once I had thought I would delight in spending time at home with my babies, I struggled with going from being in an exciting and fast-paced job that challenged me to the quiet monotony of mummydom.

Even while I was working two days a week, I couldn't help but want to give more of myself to my job. So when the promotion came up, we decided we could make it work.

Most people were happy for me.

Few knew the internal struggle I was facing of working outside the house much more than my boys were used to.

That I was torn about being away from my boys more, yet wanting them to have a mother that was fulfilled and happy, instead of one who was there but not always present.

That every day I still have to convince myself that my happiness matters too, and quality over quantity is what counts.

And while I was being congratulated by some, and supported by others, I started getting these comments:

"But your boys are so little."

"That is a lot to be away from them."

"How are they coping with it, are they adjusting okay."

"I stayed at home because I wanted to be the one to raise my children."

I checked with my husband. He has never been confronted with such questions in his workplace, so why should I be subjected to such judgement and mummy shaming?

Because I have chosen to work, not been forced into by other circumstances, it feels as though the judgement I receive is far more harsh than put on other mothers that have no choice but to work.

Because I have "chosen" to "be away from my children".

I love my family. I love my boys who were both wanted so desperately. But why does wanting and loving children have to mean you can't love doing things that don't involve them?

No one questions why a father would have children, and then leave them all day to work. No one questions a father's love for his children. No one comments that a father isn't raising his children when he works five days a week. So why are we still placing cruel and unnecessary guilt on mothers?

It may be almost seven decades since the 1950s, but it certainly feels some people's attitudes haven't shifted that far.


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