Sunday, January 2, 2011

Switching mantras

Since I only started working a few months ago I have to keep working over the summer.  It means that we can't go away and Rowan is looking after the kids on his own in his annual leave.

I don't think anyone in my family is all that worried by it, but I feel so guilty.  I keep telling myself that I should be OK about it, but I can't get past it.

I'm starting to reflect on why this is. Where does all this guilt come from?  It's not very rational when I consider the fact that I'm only working a couple of days a week and Rowan is looking after the kids when I'm not here (and frankly, making it a lot more fun for them than when I have them on my own!).


On reflection, I've spent over a decade telling myself why it is important for me to be at home full-time. In a world that values paid employment above all else, I had to work hard to feel OK about being at home for so many years.  I've read books that convinced me that not working was the right decision.  I've told myself so many times that I wouldn't cope with juggling working, my kids wouldn't cope with it, my husband would have more pressure put on him.  So just as I finally came to a point in my life where I actually felt fine about not working I went, 'hey, guess what?  I'm going to give this working/parenting thing a go'.

So now I have to change my patterns of thinking and have to go through a whole new series of self-talk.  'They'll be OK', 'Lots of mums work part-time and their kids are fine', 'Working isn't bad, it's healthy for me to be doing something I enjoy'.

But despite my efforts at self-talk, the negatives of working (those mantras that helped me feel OK about being a full time stay-at-home mum for all those years) still keep cycling through my head.

I wonder how long it will take me to feel OK about working - another decade?!!

7 comments:

Richard said...

I think you are an amazing mum Jenny , something you share with your sister. :)
I'm sure you will be fine :) as you say you will have to remember to stop the old tape when it starts and start playing the new tape :)

Meredith said...

Ten years is a lot of programming to have to reprogramme!! But welcome to your new season. Thanks for sharing the transition with us. May the transition be short and move into a season of great sweetness and productivity. Go well.
Mxx

Karen said...

I'm returning to part time work in seven weeks' time and the working pattern of self talk is already starting for me. I think I feel more guilty this time around (this is my third time returning to work after maternity leave) maybe because my home life has filled up with more activities than it had the first two times when I went back to work. I know I will survive...and I do know that I will enjoy the stimulation of work when I get there...but for me the guilt is just something that goes with whatever territory I happen to be in. When I'm at home, I'm often feeling guilty that I'm not doing more with the kids...especially when I come across blogs written by women who love posting about their organised home and all the lovely play activities they are doing with their children....

Karen said...

I should hasten to add that one of the reasons I really like your blog, Jenny, is that it isn't about how organised your home is and all the lovely play activities you do with your children (!)

Jenny said...

Ha, ha! If only that was my blog - I so wish!

Sandra said...

I still feel guilty when David has to run the kids around when I'm at work and I've been working part time on and off for 15 years (10 years this stretch).
I think part of it is subconsciously I think his work is more 'important', but reality is that if it wasn't for me working part time he wouldn't be able to continue doing what he is doing and us be able to pay the mortgage and eat, and actually be able to afford to take a holiday on occasion.
Plus it is actually important for him to have time with the kids without me - he has equal parenting rights and responsibilities.

Simone R. said...

It took me 3 years to stop feeling guilty.

My kids are not worse off because I've worked. They are just not. My church isn't either. My blog does suffer occasionally. And I sleep a bit less.

If I didn't work I guess I could teach more RE. But when it comes down to it, I don't want to teach more RE. (400 kids is enough.) I want to teach music. And that's okay.

Whether mothers work outside the home or not is much more a cultural than biblical decision. I wish I could direct my guilt to more deserving places.