I am a full-time working mum.
What does this phrase mean? Simply that I work for my employer in the day and that I am a 24/7 mum.
Now, before we go any further, this is NOT a debate about who is worth more, a stay at home mum or a full-time working mum. This is about my experience as a working mother. Period.
Truth is, when you are working full-time, your mum duties do not lessen. Sure, there is someone else to feed the kid and bathe him and entertain him and put him down to a nap during the day but it doesn’t make you any less a mother. When I am at work, I think about my boys all the time – and it’s doubly hard when they are ill. I worry about them and wonder if they are still running a fever. I worry about them and hope that they have eaten more than a morsel of their lunch. I worry about them and wish the clock could move faster so that I can bring them home and smother them with love, hugs and kisses. And I worry about them as I plough through my work and the mountain of tasks that need my urgent attention.
Believe me, it’s tough to put my sick kid into the arms of their caregivers, put on my work face and go on to educate other people’s children.
At night, I have to wake up for night feeds and soothe little men who wake up crying because of nightmares. Some nights are better than others, but no matter how many times I wake up, the end result is still the same: the alarm rings and I have to get up to prepare for work. And because I am an educator, I cannot put in anything less than my 100% because, come on, these kids’ learning is in my hands.
And still we get through it, day by day. It’s been three years since I have had a full night’s uninterrupted sleep.
Earlier this week, Aidan came down with a nasty bout of hives. It was awful, simply awful. The hives were red and angry and nasty and itchy and they covered every inch of his body. We were prescribed a steroid cream to ease the itch and when I applied it on his body, I was literally slathering it all over. There was no inch of flesh that was not affected. He was running a temperature too.
It broke my heart to see him like this, and to have to hand him over to my mother. But I had to be at work because this is the period when we process results and I need to attend these meetings and churn out these reports. And then I need to start preparing for the next semester.
Thankfully, he is a happy patient and mostly a darling. He takes his medicines willingly, allows me to apply the cream and burrows into my side as I nurse Zac for a cuddle. He is happy to have my undivided attention for that short period of time in the evening and it lessens my sadness at not being there to comfort him.
There are many reasons why I work (read this and this) and I don’t regret being out in the workforce. But at the same time, I think I need to stop feeling guilty and torn apart trying to be both a super mother and an invaluable employee. I am doing the best that I can and hopefully my best is good enough.
So if you are a fellow full-time working mother reading this, here’s me tipping a hat off to you and me. Enough with the guilt. Enough with the dilemma. Enough with beating ourselves up. Enough with everyone standing up for the stay at home mothers and what they do to help their kids grow, and not giving us working mums some credit. Enough with judgy people telling us that it’s better for the kids if we stay at home.
We. Kick. Butts.
We are awesome.
We may be exhausted with fraying patience.
We may yell a little more than we should.
But hey, we get on with the programme and work.
And damn, we are the best mothers for our children.