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To feel guilty for not feeling guilty?

(41 Posts)
NewAccount270219 Thu 11-Apr-19 20:37:59

I'm sort of thinking as I go here but was wondering if other people feel like this. DS is 9 months and I went back to my full-time job as an academic when he was 6 months - DH is currently on shared parental leave, though back at work soon. I've just been away at a conference for the past couple of days and was met with a lot of sympathy and concern about how difficult it must be to be away from DS. I did really, really miss him but I didn't find it the terrible ordeal everyone seemed to expect. It pissed me off slightly because one of the men there had a 5 week old and he'd come from the US and so was away from home for a week not three days and he got none of this. Meanwhile, my phone has been constantly buzzing with my NCT group discussing going back to work, and how about half of them aren't at all, and no one else is working more than 0.6. Obviously that's great if that's the right decision for them, but they all talked so much about how guilty they felt for working at all and how thinking about leaving their DC for the day made them cry and I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. I love DS so much but I don't feel guilty for working or sometimes being away from him. Do other people feel like this too?

AssassinatedBeauty Thu 11-Apr-19 20:43:42

Of course they do! But it is more socially acceptable for women to want to be with their children all the time, where no one bats an eyelid at fathers not being. Lots of women go back to work full time at 6 months.

There is a difference between missing your child, and feeling guilty about being apart from them. I miss my children and I also enjoy my job. I don't feel guilty about any of that. It is totally normal to miss your children. It is unnecessary to feel guilty about it!

MissSueFlay Thu 11-Apr-19 20:44:17

I think it can get a bit competitive around which mother feels worse about going back to work (you're right, fathers don't seem to get drawn into it).
You don't really hear from those of us who just crack on. People feel differently about stuff, some people say what they think they're supposed to say... don't feel guilty about not feeling guilty!

AmIRightOrAMeringue Thu 11-Apr-19 20:49:40

I know what you mean OP. I think there are a lot of people who feel like you but no one really says it. Especially NCT where competitive martyrdom can definitely be a thing. It is depressing nobody says it to the dads though

Merryoldgoat Thu 11-Apr-19 20:52:32

I feel zero guilt being back at work - absolutely love it.

I’m only a 0.6 but can’t wait to go back full time.

calamariqueen Thu 11-Apr-19 20:59:00

My experience of leaving my DD with her dad and with a childminder is completely different. I had nooooooooooooooo qualms leaving her with DH at any point! But leaving her for an hour with the CM the first time was hideous! I think it is different for dads as they haven't had the same experience with pregnancy so missing being with the baby isn't quite the same IMO. Anyway, feeling bad about not feeling bad is totally self destructive & pointless. You're bound to get mum guilt about something at some point so don't sweat it grin

NewAccount270219 Thu 11-Apr-19 21:25:49

Thanks for the nice comments - they're just what I needed as I feel a bit crap on a train still quite a long way from my bed!

I agree that it's going to be harder when he's going to the childminder not staying at home with DH. He's had a couple of settling in sessions and the first one went brilliantly but he got quite upset at the second one, and it was upsetting when DH told me. But I guess I feel more like 'I wish DH didn't have to go back to work' than 'I wish I didn't work' so the sadness doesn't make me feel guilty as such, if that makes sense?

I don't even know if guilt is the right word. I guess I sometimes wonder if I lack some maternal instinct that everyone else has, and then that makes me feel crap because DS is so loved and was so wanted but I wonder if he's missing out on something because I'm not like the other mums I know.

Youwanapizzame Thu 11-Apr-19 21:45:38

Crikey I practically skipped and clapped when I went back to work after MAT leave. It was nice having the whole year but couldn't do It any longer...

calamariqueen Thu 11-Apr-19 21:58:28

Put a positive spin on it! Think what an awesome experience he's getting to build a bond with his dad that lots of kids don't get. Also you're no less of a mother for working. Just busier!!!!

Lazypuppy Thu 11-Apr-19 22:13:39

I'm the same OP, I've goneback FT and never felt any 'mum guilt'but everyone in my office thinks i must be heartbroken to be away from dd.

I just tell them i love having a break and being me again, not mum. No botyles, nappies etc to think aboutsmile

Everyone is different though

PregnantSea Fri 12-Apr-19 02:03:42

You're allowed to feel however you want OP. Besides, we're all made differently - just because you are female doesn't mean your experience has to be the same as the other women in your NCT.

It pisses me off no end that we still treat men and women so differently in the respect. It's unfair to patronise women like this, expecting them to feel guilty for daring to leave the house for work. And it's unfair to men too - maybe that guy from the US is absolutely devastated that he's away from his baby for so long but he feels like he can't show it because no one cares?

IfYoureGonnaTakeAShotAtTheKing Fri 12-Apr-19 06:34:22

Oh yes, OP me too. I only wobbled slightly on my first day back after dropping them at nursery. Otherwise zero guilt!

StealthPolarBear Fri 12-Apr-19 06:39:51

You're fine op! I had various stresses when I went back to work but felt much as I do now, if they were with DH or a grandparent I was fine. With a cm or nursery I worried more. I missed them but not as much as it seemed everyone around me thought I should.

mrsbear81 Fri 12-Apr-19 07:38:18

I feel exactly the same OP. I was the last to go on mat leave and the first back from my NCT group the only one to go back full time and being in work those first few weeks when the messages were coming in saying how they were struggling thinking about having to leave their babies soon whilst I'd been dropping my baby off at nursery at 7:30 every day for the last month was hard to read. But I needed to go back to work it's an important part of who I am as a person, I enjoy my job and like the being a adult time!

NewAccount270219 Fri 12-Apr-19 09:25:40

Thanks again all. I feel a bit better this morning - not least because DS seemed quite unfussed by my return (I got a smile, but the same one I get every morning) so I don't think he was pining terribly.

Might just mute the NCT group, too. I do like them but it's making me feel crap at the moment so I just might not read it. I'm not the only one not replying, so maybe I'm not the only one feeling a bit on the outside of the conversation

Allfednonedead Fri 12-Apr-19 09:37:49

I think out of my ante-natal group, most of us were relieved to be back at work. That’s why I’m still friends with them, nine years on.

I do remember singing ‘I’m going to see my BABY!’ as I cycled home from work every day, so I did love him, but it was so good to be among adults again and using my brain.

KTCluck Fri 12-Apr-19 09:44:37

I am virtually full time over 4 days, and feel no guilt. I’ve had the odd twinge of sadness if DD has been a bit quiet when I’ve dropped her at nursery, but that’s rare, she absolutely loves going 99% of the time. She gets a lot from nursery that she wouldn’t get at home with me - lots of interaction with other kids, brilliant activities that I just can’t replicate at home. I get a lot of satisfaction from my career and being able to be KT and not just mummy. I adore DD but need a break away for my own sanity. It means the three days a week we have together is much more quality time and I am able to enjoy her without feeling like I’m burning out the way I sometimes did on mat leave.

Don’t compare yourself to the NCT group. It sounds like some of them are going back because they have to and not because they want to, which is sad for them, whereas the lack of guilt you feel shows you are happy with your choice and can be confident that you’ve made what you know to be the best decision for your family. There’s no definitive right or wrong answer about when, how, or if women (and men) go back to work, only what’s right for each family. There’s probably some degree of some of them professing guilt and dread at going back because others are and it’s what they’re expected to say. I doubt very much you’re really the only one who is happy to be working.

If you’re not like other mums and lacking maternal instinct then I’m the same!

Babdoc Fri 12-Apr-19 09:47:28

I couldn’t wait to get back to work, OP! Being stuck at home like a housewife, no intelligent conversation, endless nappy changing, place as quiet as the grave with all the neighbours out at work - definitely not my cup of tea. Of course I loved my babies, but they ate and slept most of the time - there wasn’t much interesting interaction until they were mobile and could respond to speech by at least babbling a bit.
I did try a mother/baby group, but it was excruciating. If I wasn’t interested in the contents of my own baby’s nappy, why would I want to discuss anyone else’s?!
Guilt at going to work? I danced back into the operating theatre with a song in my heart...!

Namestheyareachangin Fri 12-Apr-19 09:50:37

You do you! You enjoy your baby and you enjoy work - it's an enviable position to feel no conflict about it.

I had to go back full time after a year and I was gutted. I'd be sorry to think the people I shared these feelings with thought I was just putting it on to virtue signal.

I work 4 days now and feel much happier (although currently spending my day off with LO on the sofa watching endless Peppa because she's got s tummy bug so not exactly living the dream 🙄). But I still wish I could work less and be with her more.

I imagine a lot of it is to do with how much you feel the work you do matters and makes a difference in the world. My office job is fine and my colleagues are nice but it won't change the world any time soon. Being with my child feels more valuable and important both to me and to her. As being an academic requires a lot of passion, you probably feel differently about your work Vs your home life than say, a shelf stacker in Sainsbury's.

SamStephens Fri 12-Apr-19 09:54:17

I don’t think it’s lacking maternal instinct in the slightest. It’s just realising there’s more to you as a person than just being a mum.

I went back to work after 4mths at home with each of my children and was practically counting down the days to start back! Only a few people ever commented but I think I was so blasé about it they cottoned on pretty quickly that it wasn’t a major concern for me. They were so little they didn’t really make a fuss and now they’re a little older they’re chomping at the bit to get to daycare each morning. I’ve even started a new job this year and I’m absolutely living for a couple of upcoming conferences which mean I’ll be away on travel for a few days - real meals out at a restaurant, a hotel bed ALL to myself, not getting up in the middle of the night just for a few nights = absolute bliss, cannot wait!

Notgoodatchoosingnames Fri 12-Apr-19 09:58:28

I have felt mum guilt about all sorts but going back to work was not one of them. I think it's perfectly normal. My mum worked (as did my dad) and I've never felt I have missed out on anything and now I have my own kids I appreciate how much she did and respect her for working the whole time.
Different things suit different people. There is no right or wrong. and it does NOT reflect a lack of maternal instinct not one bit!! x

bumblenbean Fri 12-Apr-19 10:04:37

Nothing wrong with this at all OP. I love my kids to death but I really enjoy time I get to myself (when I know they’re being properly looked after obviously) and always feel a bit guilty when I hear other mums say they can’t bear to be apart from their children for an hour let alone a day ...

I’m going back to work PT soon and while I’m a little sad at the prospect of seeing them less I am also looking forward to being ‘me’ as well as ‘mum’. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it, as PP say we all experience things differently and it doesn’t mean we are any less maternal.

Celebelly Fri 12-Apr-19 10:06:24

My DD is 9 weeks and I've just booked a place at a conference in Sept for two nights as it will coincide with me getting back into work mode. A few people have said 'You'll be bringing the baby, right?' and it hadn't even occurred to me blush Apparently a few people have attended in the past with babies and other halves! But I think that would just distract me and I wouldn't get as much out of being there as I wouldn't be able to socialise as much and I'd spend every spare minute feeding her etc. DD will be at home with her dad and they'll be just fine, I'm sure. I know I'll miss her, but I'm already looking forward to two days of adult time!

Ihatehashtags Fri 12-Apr-19 11:17:12

No I didn’t feel guilty. It’s normal. I found it a bit boring going to coffee groups and talking about my kids all the time. Likewise fun mums weekends away when other mums only talk about their kids. Snooze.

Phineyj Fri 12-Apr-19 11:33:06

I think it's normal but there's a taboo about saying it. As others have pointed out, also a taboo for men who miss their DC expressing it. It's so stupid and oppressive when people assume everyone feels the same. I enjoy my work and would probably want to do it whether I got paid or not (sssh don't tell my employer!) I didn't hate maternity leave but I got very bored. My DD was a delightful baby. I enjoy spending time with her too, but more so when it's not continuous (to be fair, she'd probably rather play with other 6yo a lot of the time too).

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