The (Guilty) Working Mothers Club

Is it possible to feel contentment and frustration in equal measures? That’s how I’m feeling most of the time. Not including, of course, the times I lose my shit and have a toddler tantrum of my own or the times I give in to the lure of chocolate and enjoy a sugar and caffeine high.

My kids are aged three years and four months. They simultaneously need my full attention pulling me in opposite directions and team up to steal my sleep at night. Every day my to do list gets longer and all I manage to achieve is feeding the boys, keeping them clean (ish) and going along with whatever play is flavour of the day. If I manage all those things without anyone losing it I feel like I’m winning. Should that be enough for me? Because it isn’t.

As a mother I feel like we’re on an even keel and settling into life with two children. As a person and small business owner I have loads more to achieve, not to mention several unfinished projects around my home. This week the baby has started to settle a bit earlier in the evenings and around 9pm I find myself with a couple of hours of freedom. This time is inevitably spent packing orders and doing the essential everyday tasks needed to keep the business going. However, this ‘me time’ is not enough to satisfy me. I have a notebook full of ideas but never the time to act on them. I’m torn between wanting to make the most of my time with the boys but at times finding play with a three year old and a four month old quite monotonous. We get out of the house every day because I’ve learned that we’re all nicer and better behaved when we’re out (me included). Come the afternoon we wind up at home passing the time between toddler dinner and bed time. I call this period ‘the witching hour’ though it feels like it goes on for eternity. This is when the baby cries, the boy whinges and I retreat into the kitchen to consume caffeine and secretly eat biscuits.
I love playing with my kids, but there are only so many times you can push a train round a track, singing the Thomas theme tune while simultaneously jiggling the baby in a bouncy chair. It’s in these moments when my mind is not really on the task that I just want to pause time so I can get things done and then hit play and resume family life. I think what I’m craving is the mental challenge that work offers which daily life with two pre schoolers doesn’t. It’s also about needing to be more than just a mother within my own family unit and beyond.  I have nothing to prove to anyone else but I do have plenty to prove to myself.
Pondering this inevitably leads to a whole load of mum guilt because my kids should be enough shouldn’t they? I should want to spent my whole maternity leave devoted to pureeing vegetables and handcrafting Waldorf inspired toys? I don’t.  I’m happy to admit that I need more. What I’m not sure of is how to achieve it. I’ve stumbled upon a fantastic community of working, blogging, business owning mothers on Instagram and the same question always arises ‘How can we find the time to do more?’ Answers on a postcard there because I haven’t a clue! Skill swaps and collaborations seem like a good place to start.
Being at home with the children is such a privilege and something that some mothers, my own included, don’t have the luxury of doing for very long. I’m so grateful that I can take a 12 months maternity leave and return to my day job part time. I’m also very lucky that I manage to juggle my business alongside my profession albeit feeling like i’m not doing a great job of either. I’m putting this post out there in the spirit of being honest because I’m sure there are other mums in exactly the same position. We need to join forces more, collaborate, discuss and help each other out. I don’t think we should feel guilty for needing time to do something for ourselves.  When I’ve managed to get some work done and I feel I’ve achieved something I’m more able to enjoy time with my family and my boys get a more switched on fun version of mummy. Motherhood is exhausting, satisfying, frustrating and fulfilling all at the same time. It’s a 24/7 job and realistically who can give 100% focus twenty four hours a day?  I don’t think we should be beating ourselves up for having ambitions outside our mothering role and pursuing them.
When was the last time a you heard a father debating these issues? Hardly ever I’d bet because work-related guilt is all ours.
**Feel free to leave me a comment, share the post and come back soon for more ramblings from a  tired mum of two**
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