Balancing my baby and her nursery bag with one arm, schlepping my teacher's briefcase with the other. Add a bag of groceries here and there, and this would be my early experience of being a working parent. And don't forget the sore back, and the nagging heartache when I would leave my baby with a childminder...mixed in with a frequent sense of relief, of being able to breathe, relax, when I was not having to care for my baby. Compared to taking care of her, work would seem like a walk in the park.
I've been pursuing my career since my daughter was three months old, and she's now two years old and at times, I still feel guilty for being a working mum. I look around at all the French mums and dads dropping their babies off at the crèche on their way to work, and I think: why do I feel so guilty when everyone thinks it's normal to be a working parent? Anyway, here are five things I remind myself of when I feel guilty:
1. Would a man feel guilty?The funny thing is, despite the fact that they tend to spend more time with their children than men, women still feel more guilty than their partners.
2. I'm a role model for my daughterI want Momo to grow up with a working mum so that she can see that it's completely normal for women to pursue their career. My mother was a stay-at-home mum, so that's all I've ever known, and it might be why I struggle so much now. My partner's mum had a brilliant career and that was completely normal for him. And he never felt like there was anything wrong with that. He still got a lot of quality time with both of his parents, and they are very close.
3. Being a part of the professional community is good for my mental healthI felt my identity change a lot when I became a mother. For a while, I was really confused. At first, my love for my daughter was so big it seemed to eclipse everyone and everything else. Then I realised that all the other parts of who I had been were still there, but that from now on, they would have to coexist with my role as a mother. Now, I am used to being a mum and I can see that being a mum is just a part of who I am. I am also woman who loves her partner, who enjoys her friendships, her hobbies, AND her work.
My work has always been important to me. I don't want to give up that part of me, because it's part of who I am and I enjoy it, and it helps me stay sane. And I don't need to give up that part of myself in order to be a good mum. Noone would dream of asking a man to give up his career for his children.