Working Guilt

I have been sick for well over a week now. Delirious-with-fever, can’t-get-out-of-bed sick for the first six days and even now, ten days since it began, still sick and seriously fatigued and about to head back to the doctor.

Dad 101 had to take time off work last week to look after Immy and then ended up sick himself (with something different to what I have, go figure!) He ended up having to be off work the whole week.

And although he was sick or caring for his family and had a doctor’s certificate, he felt bad about being off work.

And I understand that. I remember the days when my work was my life. I loved my job and lived for it.

But work has changed for me. It shifted when I became a Mum. Where once I lived to work. Now I see work as a means to living. I continue to enjoy work and feel fortunate to work part time from home. But now, I feel a greater sense of responsibility to the health and happiness of our small family  than to any work commitment.

It is like that portion of my self esteem that was tied up in my work is now consumed with being a Mum.

And I wonder often if this will change again as Immy grows and her need for me changes?

Did your view of work change when you became a parent?

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  1. My view of work certainly changed when I had my children. I had to return to work not long after the birth of our first child. And I resented it – I just wanted to be at home with my daughter. Fortunately I’m not having to work much now, and I’m loving the time with my kids – but I’m also finding that my self-esteem takes a bit of a battering with just ‘being a mum’. While my family will always be my priority, I am wondering if I’ve come full circle and if it’s time for me to do more paid work outside the home.

    Hoping you are feeling much better soon.x

  2. I am battling this at the moment. I work three nights a week which has been great, but my eldest starts school next year and I don’t want to be home when shes at school and at work when she’s at home, but I still have younger ones at home. I don’t care what I did before I had children, it’s irrelevent now, and just a thorn in my side. I must do it, it pays our mortgage, but oh the dream of just being here for my children as they need, being a mother is my priority, I’m sure it will change as they all become more independent but for now, I can’t think of anything else.

  3. I have actually come to this same conclusion few months ago. I feel pointless to put my child into care and then work hard for the money to pay for it all. It makes much more sense to stay home and look after your own kids. I have also found a new career path and exploring that on part time basis (working from home), much better solution for me and my son.

  4. My attitude to work has changed considerably since having children. Although I work full time and my husband stays at home, I find that I take work home to do once the kids are in bed, rather than staying back (I am a teacher). I still try to do the best job I can, but we have chosen this life to maximise our time together as a family.
    One of the reasons we are doing our country life experiment is to see if we can get a better work/life balance.

  5. Christie, I hope you and Dad101 get better soon and that Immy doesn’t come down with it too.
    My idea of work has changed over the years. Now, as a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama to 5, I see that the most challenging, enriching and productive work I could ever do is right here right now in my nest! Living this life has certainly challenged the notion that I had pre-kids that staying at home was almost a boring option…what was I thinking?!? lol. We thrive on being productive and enjoy that quality time we have to share together. Life is so short and these years fleeting, so I choose to embrace this life I am living now at home (even when we have 3 people sick at once as we did last week! I empathise with you!)
    Lusi x

  6. I have enjoyed your blog for awhile now, but never left a comment. This post, though, really hit home. I am at home with my son (13 months) now, and I am loving it more than I ever thought possible. I do miss my days as a teacher, but when I think about leaving Elijah with someone else most of the time, something sad stirs inside me. The way I see it, work will always be there, but his childhood will not. Which doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be nice to have a second income sometimes, to be saving more for the future…but I still feel confident that I am in the right place, right now.

  7. Oh my goodness, yes! My vision of work most certainly changed. When I was pregnant I thought that I’d be back at work, full time, after my maternity leave. And then I met my daughter. I had so much anxiety about returning to work and was fortunate to be offered a part time work-from-home solution. That’s since changed and I’m now blogging and contracting work that I can do in the evenings or weekends, enabling me to be at home with the kids. Not to say that blogging doesn’t take the wind out of me. It’s also exhausting. But I love it because it keeps my mind active and helps me connect the non-mom part of my brain with my community.

  8. Eeek. Hit return too soon. Also want to wish you and Dad 101 a quick recovery. Once you’re feeling better I hope you can make some time for yourself. xo

  9. Oh dear I hope you get better soon! We’ve had a horrid run of illness this winter so I really empathise. I have never been really passionate about my previous jobs, but still felt guilt when not able to go into work. You feel like you’re letting the team down. I decided not to go back to work after my second child, as I wanted my focus to be solely on my children. It will be interesting to see what my feelings are about working when I re-enter the workforce when the twins are older

  10. When I was pregnant with my first child I thought I would be back at work when she was 6 months old…. but the early months flew by and I just couldn’t see how I could possibly go back and I really didn’t want to. Thankfully we are very fortunate that with some budget changes we could survive without my income. I am still at home with 2 daughters now, I will go back into some sort of part-time work in the next year and now I think I am ready.
    I hope you and your family get well soon. This winter has been awful for viruses.

  11. Get well soon love. xx

  12. I’m a little bit different I think, in that I actually couldn’t WAIT to get back to work after having Scarlett… it made all the difference to my mental health and self-esteem… I didn’t feel fulfilled at home, I was going crazy (literally)… I just was not cut out to be a stay-at-home mum at all. Hats off to those who can do it. I genuinely respect and admire you.

    I still struggle with the guilt of my decision, and especially with the necessity of childcare because of it. But Scarlett is thriving, my wage has contributed to us being able to finally afford our own home this year – and I’m always very careful to guard our quality time together. Working has made me a better (happier) mum, and in the end, I think you have to do what’s best for yourself, and your own family.

    We’re all going to feel guilty no matter what choice we make… it’s the condition of motherhood !:) What we must not do, is judge each other. x

  13. Sorry to hear you’ve been so unwell – hope things are on the improve now. xx

  14. My view on work changed literally the minute my first son was born. I had planned to return to work 3 months after the baby was born – I was so deluded on what I would want to do!

  15. Get better soon! Yes, my view changed. It felt good to not be defined by my job, by my work. I like to think that Motherhood opened me up to a whole range of new experiences, characteristics and even new doubts and insecurities – I think this is all important in regards to growth. The new doubts and insecurities help me to grow as a person, I think. That probably sounds odd? But they do….

    I am going back to work this week, just a day a week in my old work, an early learning centre. I’m excited but nervous too, this will no doubt take me to a yet anther stage in life: balancing work and motherhood!

  16. While pregnant, I could not imagine wanting to stay home with my child. Both my parents worked. What would we do all day? Isn’t it better for my daughter to see me find personal satisfaction in what I have accomplished on my own? (The idea being that our children are not “our work”, but their own autonomous selves.)

    Half way into my maternity leave, I couldn’t imagine leaving her. Color me surprised.

    I had to go back to work. While we could survive on one income, we could not do so and achieve the financial goals we had set for ourselves. One income meant we wouldn’t be able to save for college or retirement in a way that made us feel secure. We wouldn’t be able to travel (something that’s important to me as I spent my childhood living all over the globe). And, at the time, there were massive lay-offs happening all over the country, and we just didn’t feel safe relying on one income. The financial insecurity would have destroyed our marriage, which was kind of the opposite of what we were hoping for.

    So I went back to work. While I don’t love it, I don’t hate it, either, knowing that this was a decision that we came to together. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, and I still struggle with it. In the end, it didn’t jive with our priorities.

    • We live in a time when such financial considerations really come into this type of decision making. And we are all doing the best we can with what we have, for our unique family circumstances :)

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