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To pursue a career or stay at home with the kids – is there a more polarising topic among mums? Well maybe the Gina versus babywearing one, but it’s definitely up there. Many women hold very strong opinions on the subject and are definitely not afraid to share them. They appear to know their preferred path before they’ve even conceived. But in my own experience the reality of making such a weighty decision is far from straightforward. In fact it’s something I battle with on pretty much a daily basis.
I’ve come across colleagues who don’t seem to suffer from working mum guilt, which sadly gnaws away at most. They breeze around, proficiently juggling the demands of kids and clients. Who knows if it’s all a facade, but if so they are flawless actors. At the other extreme I have friends who wouldn’t dream of sending their kids off to childcare and throw themselves wholeheartedly into their mothering roles. Frustratingly, I seem to straddle both camps.
Since having my eldest son seven years ago I’ve experimented with working, being a full time mum and a melange of the two. Following my first maternity leave I reluctantly returned to a full on job where I was the only mum in a team of whippersnappers. I could sense the eye-rolls as I left my desk at 4.30pm (they didn’t see me finishing a presentation after the kids were finally asleep or checking emails at 3am!). Luckily I swiftly escaped back to the UK where I enjoyed a brief window at home with my little boy. I was then seduced by a four day a week role in London. It was much more parent-friendly, but the commute nearly killed me off. Again I left at 4.30pm but I arrived home exhausted two hours later and was catapulted straight into the bedtime routine. And naturally my Fridays off were spent fielding client calls while silent screaming at the kids.
When Geneva came calling again and I was thrilled with the prospect of being a SAHM. I also had ambitious (ridiculous) ideas about writing a book. But after a few months I started to get twitchy….