I had so many mothers talking with me about my Mothers Guilt in China post a while back that this made me think about the other kinds of guilty feelings we have. It seems that the moment my daughter was born I had guilt inside my DNA. I felt guilty for wanting her, I felt guilty for not wanting her. I felt guilty because I had a C-section. I felt guilty that I did not enjoy my pregnancy with her. I felt guilty for my postnatal depression.
There are no limits to the guilt I have felt, and speaking with mothers about this, I realized we all have this feeling. No matter how we did things or how we do things now, mothers in general feel guilty. Some mothers feel no guilt and that’s fine too, I don’t want mothers feeling guilty that they don’t feel guilt.
I have been a stay at home mother for half my daughters life and the other half I started working again. Getting back into the work force was a huge part of my recovery from postnatal depression, but also made me realize that it’s really hard to combine both work and motherhood. I was lucky as I was able to work on my husband’s days off in the same kitchen, while my husband took care of our daughter. It gave me the peace of mind I needed to be able to work and not worry.
But I felt guilty leaving my daughter without me even though she was with her father. I felt guilty having fun at work and most of all, I felt guilty that it was working that made me mentally feel better. I remember my husband sending me pictures of my daughter’s first experience having her face painted. I cried. I felt so left out and you guessed it, guilty. I feel that working makes me a better mother as I can recharge at work, I can be an adult. In the kitchen I was just happy that I had to only make sure to keep myself alive. I remember colleagues asking me what I had done on my days off and I would answer, “This is my day off.”
I was quite reluctant leaving my daughter with an ayi in China and going to work, but I knew that I would come back feeling better and having more energy to be a mother. I felt even more reluctant sending her to school as I envisioned us homeschooling her and her running around on bare feet in the forest all day. But it turns out this is something that won’t work for us as parents and a family. I want my daughter to understand that me working does not make me love her less. To be honest it makes me love her more.
But my daughter does not see it that way, she cries sometimes when I leave. She can speak, so she asks me many questions that my husband does not have to answer too. “Why do you have to work?” “Please don’t leave me mommy!” It breaks my heart when she cries when I leave, and it melts my heart when she is so happy when I come home.
I know so many mothers and each of us has one thing in common. Each one of us works 24 hours a day – stay-at-home mothers do, and working mothers do. The work is endless, but we seem to all have the same goal: a happy and healthy home life.
This blog was posted originally on the beijingkids website.