There’s been a lot of talk about ‘mummy wars’ – or, in the US ‘mommy wars’, lately. Most of the debate isn’t particularly new, so we’ve left it alone here at Working Mums Australia.
What a lot of women are missing in the current discussion about work and family, etc, is that for many women maternity leave beyond the 18 weeks at minimum wage funded by the government is a luxury.
Many mothers, rather than indulging in deep philosophical discussions about whether they, and they alone, are qualified to nurture their child’s creativity and intelligence, are just busy doing their best to pay the bills while raising their kids.
If you want to find people to validate your parenting decisions, or people to compare yourself to so you can feel smug about your parenting decisions, or people to judge and argue with about their parenting decisions, you only need to spend about 3.5 seconds searching online.
The internet is groaning under the weight of privileged women demanding acceptance of their life choices and feeling persecuted because not everyone is patting them on the back.
Personally, I think all mums feel a guilt of sorts, wondering whether the choices they’ve made about working and decisions about child care, are best for their children. I think some dads feel it too.
Like Tory, I also attended a kids party on the weekend where this issue was discussed, where the kids were all friends through our child care centre. We all guiltily admitted that our kids seemed to be the first dropped off in the morning, and we weren’t sure whether the number of days were exactly right for our child, but in a world of mortgages to pay and traffic to negotiate to and from work, no-one was sure what the options were.
Many of the mums admitted that they actually enjoyed work too. I think this is great – work is such an important part of our lives and our society these days that to spend your working hours doing something you don’t get some fulfilment from is a terrible waste.
One mum chose our centre even though it’s not near her home or work but because she can get to it by 6pm and then drive another 45 minutes home. Among these mums, our work was all very different; one single mum getting by on casual hours, while another is an accountant at a high flying firm and the first in her firm to have a work from home agreement.
The issues are the same for all of us, and the conversation will continue until there’s a solution. I’d personally rather be having a conversation about how other mums deal with the practicalities of managing their balance than talking with guilt. That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but it need not be all consuming.
Do you feel mother guilt? Or is it a waste of your time?
Some of our previous posts on how other mums have dealt with the practical issues of returning to work are available below.