I don’t know about you but I’ve been thinking about guilt a lot lately. I know it’s par for the course as a parent that when you leave the hospital with your new bundle of joy you are also gifted a whopping great serve of guilt that never leaves you. Guilt is a natural part of parenthood, and particularly motherhood I think.
My guilt at the moment has to do with work and school and my beautiful five year old daughter who is about to start pre-primary – the first year of full time school. We’re almost at the end of summer holidays here – a big six week break that stretches over Christmas until the end of January. That big summer holiday also coincides with the busiest time of year for me at work.
I am super lucky to be doing a job I love, in an area I love, three days a week. It’s an elusive beast the perfect part time job, one that is also stimulating and creative. I’ve worked out that three days a week is the perfect amount of time for me to work and for our family unit to function well. We are privileged to have a child minder who looks after our children two days and my mother picks up the third day. For 10 months of the year that equation works really really well. For two months of the year it all goes to hell as I go to full time hours (and more!) in January and February to deliver the festival I manage.
This year the guilt has really kicked into overdrive as I’m so conscious of the fact that this will be the last big stretch of holidays with my girl before she commences her school career for the next 13 years. 13 years of school! It’s crazy when you think about it, and that doesn’t include university! I feel that so much of her life will happen now without me. No longer will she share her days with me, but instead I’ll get that standard school kid answer when I ask her about her day…I don’t remember mum! I know that this is part of growing up. I know that she is changing and discovering more about herself. I know that she is learning how to be social, form friendships of her own and deal with small versions of life problems that I deal with as an adult. And that makes me happy. It really does, but boy that happiness has a bittersweet edge.
So back to the guilt. The rational part of me knows that being a successful working mum is the type of role I want my girls to be exposed to. I know that if I wasn’t working I’d still find things to feel guilty about, like not contributing to the household financially (even though bringing up future citizens of the world is pretty much the most important job you can do in my humble opinion). But I think I need to wallow in the guilt for a while longer, it helps in a weird kind of way by distracting me from the big issue here. My baby is growing up.