I heard the expression ‘mother’s guilt’ before, but I never thought that it applies to me. A part of me even started to worry that I don’t have it. And then, I got it – If I worry of not having ‘mother’s guilt’, I probably have it.
Yesterday I have been through one of those ‘guilt’ moments. It was my son’s first day in the Pre-school Nursery group and it was painful. Thomas is two and a half now and he knows how to express his feelings especially when he needs attention. Although he likes the new kids and teachers, he just didn’t wanted to let go of me. He didn’t cry, but he looked at me with his big warm eyes saying: ‘Mummy…’
I was paralyzed and I couldn’t let go of him. When, eventually, the new teacher convinced him to stay on her lap with a book, instead of thinking that it is a good outcome since I had to leave for work, I felt was pain, quid and jealousy for the woman who took my baby.
I got back in the car and I start feeling guilty for leaving my son with strangers so that I can go and do exciting or less exciting stuff at work. The questions going through my head: ‘Is it all worthwhile, what I am doing there? Do I really do what I think has a positive impact and gives me energy?’.
My day in the office yesterday has been different because of that painful start. I spoke my mind more, I brought some new edgy ideas for a conference and I had a very honest and open career mentoring conversation with a senior female leader in our company. I also dared to reach out and asked help from a senior stakeholder on a issues I dreaded to touch few days earlier.
Looking back on it again, what I would say to young working mothers who might experience this mother guilt every morning, is that:
- We need to accept the ‘Mother guilt’ as something that is part of the ‘package’.
- Turn it from a ‘Problem’ that holds you back from pursuing your own dreams into a ‘Driver’ that pushes you forward.
- Put all that emotional pain in something really worthwhile for you and your family.
Johaan Cruijff once said: ‘Elk nadeel heeft zijn vordeel’ – every downside has its upside’