By going back to work, my children “won’t know who I am” - so says my mum!(89 Posts)
Obviously it’s been a late Easter Sunday night with a few drinks. But still..
My DH and I have tried to explain to my mum how it is that she was able to buy her own small house on one salary in the 70s, but how these days it’s mostly takes two salaries to buy a house.
She also knows how I’ve been striving for about eight years now to get qualified at the top of my field (doctor).
So the conversation goes, that I will take 9 months’ leave (for this imaginary baby!) and DH will take 3 months. Then we will both go back to work.
Mum was disgusted!! She took five years off with me and will not hear of anyone doing any less! “How could you do that to a child,” she said, when I said I was going to go back to work, “they won’t know who you are!”
She also maintained I would be going back part time. To be honest, (once we’ve had this imaginary child), if anyone is going to go part time it will be DH as I will be out-earning him almost 2:1. This apparently is just shocking.
She also said she wanted to move 70 miles to be in a small flat near us but that she would NOT be doing any childcare. Fine by us as we have planned our (future) budget to include £1k/mo childcare; I just though it curious that you would love so close yet still be so far.
I went back to work full time when DC were 3 months. They are now adults living away from home. They call or message us both almost ever day. They definitely know who we are.
There was a point where I cut down my hours so I could do some school drop offs and pick ups - DH also cut down so we could manage between us.
DH was a very hands on dad who also pulled his weight with the housework and, vitally with the mental work, the organisation.
Your mum is being ridiculous. My own mum didn’t go back to work until I was 15 as her and my dad thought it was important for her to be there when I got home from school and I get digs from them about putting DD in childcare 4 days a week (she went in at 12 months old) but DD loves it there, she’s got a group of friends she talks about non-stop, they do fun activities and have play equipment we don’t have room for at home and she definitely knows who I am.
It's hilarious really that people can be so opinioned. I was a SAHM for about 5 years until recentlybut had done the work/ study juggle with young children previously.
My mother HATED that I was at home and doing all the school stuff and kept telling me I was lazy, the kids needed me to work. It's was completely her projecting her experiences on me when she was a single mother working full-time. As a child I felt completely abandoned but that was because of how she behaved as a mother.
I'm now working full time. It's easier than being a SAHM but this job is easy as way below my skill set. I still haven't managed to get the flexibility I need for the family.
I went back full-time and ds was never in any doubt who I was. No commute so not a long day for him.
Without knowing the ins and outs of your relationship with your mother, I would suggest that she should not move any closer to you once you have a child. If she is already so forceful with her opinions during a hypothetical discussion she could be a lot more interfering once you really do have a baby.
Nancydrawn great post, really nice to read.
I work full time and my DD runs to me each evening shouting mummy and is very attached to me. I’d like to work part time but we need two incomes for our mortgage and I didn’t spend years studying and working my way up in my career to give it up now.
Also my mum worked full time and it made me far more independent and resilient than my DH whose mum stayed at home.
Just ignore her. I was having a chat with DHs aunt at a wedding last year and she asked about my work so I told her about my recent promotion. Mil immediately crashed the conversation with well we didn’t have the childcare when I was younger but I would have had a great career if I had but I would have felt far too guilty to leave mine. Given that she obviously dislikes small children (based on her behaviour when our DC were small) I’m guessing she just feels like she’s missed out. I agree with PP that maybe your mum feels the same.
I don't know why you would think it odd that she has better things to do with her day than look after your imaginary child when so have you.
My dm was a trained professional, but never returned to work after having dc. She did WFH during our teen years.
While I was pregnant with dc1, and explained that I planned to be a SAHM, my ddad tried to persuade me not to do this. He maintained that returning to work would be better for my mental health, and better for my future relationships with my dc, as they would see me as a 'whole' person, with interests, responsibilities and commitments outside the family.
He was 100% right.
I think you should discourage your mother from moving closer tbh. She’s already interfering and you don’t even have a child yet.
She’s also said she doesn’t plan on ever helping so what does she want? Does she want you to be off work so you can present the children to her daily and she can coo over them for a bit before you take them back home? Does she want to be closer in her old age so that whilst you’re a SAHM you won’t only have to look after the kids, you’ll be expected to run her around and do errands for her everyday you know seeing as you’re not at work.....
Before I had kids I thought I would be like you, but I couldn't leave them, even once in school they need their parents. Whilst plenty do work full time, and there is nothing wrong with dad's being the one that stays home, your mum knows that how you feel before you have kids may change! I hear the kids crying being dropped at nursery at work, I also see little kids yawning at 6.10pm and their mum still hasn't arrived to collect - the real world isn't as neat and tidy as the imaginary one
Give her a cheery
"You are so right. Best not bother then"
And carry on with whatever you planned.
When someone is so intent on arguing what was right for them, being the right thing for others I often wonder if they are trying to convince themselves they did the ‘right’ thing. Wonder if your mother is secretly envious of your ability to manage a career you love and have a family.
It’s not rocket science to understand that different things work fit different people and in fact not only are you different people you’re a generation apart. Things change.
Of course your kid, should you have one, will know you! I was totally fine putting mine in childcare at 11 months. In fact he seems so happy there, eats better, does lots of interesting things, I’m thinking of upping my hours.
I find that when I’m at home with him, I’m running around doing housework, cooking, lifemin, tidying up etc - so not sure how much of my attention he gets anyhow!
Just do what’s right for you and your DH.
Hmm. I wonder if your mother would have actually quite liked to go back to work sooner, and would like (perhaps subconsciously) to clip your wings a little? I think 'revenge' (mostly at quite a mild/subtle level) by mothers on daughters who are reluctant to repeat their perceived sacrifices is quite a common phenomenon.
Fully involved father who does his fair share of childcare and as a result has a really close relationship with his own child - now shocking!
It's easier said than done, but you just have to ignore her, she clearly doesn't live in the real world. I do know two people who gave up work when they had kids - one hated it so much she went back as soon as she could, the other is happily a SAHP. However literally every other single person I know has gone back to work, mainly 3 -5 days a week, and there are increasing numbers of men doing condensed or part time hours. Most kids are in childcare some of the time (some a combination of being with grandparents). Its the norm now.
I'd be worried she is going to be like this for every parenting decision you make so I think I'd ask her now to stop criticising your choices
“She made her own choices on childcare and career, and wants to believe that she made perfect choices.”
Woollyheart is spot on. And that’s the sign of someone who isn’t 100% secure so they have to convince themselves that there is only one possible way of being a mother and any other way would be fraught with all sorts of problems. It would be equally ridiculous to say that all mothers ‘should’
Work full time because otherwise their children are going to be harmed.
Fact is, there are multiple ways of parenting, and whether children grow up happy, well adjusted and with good relationships with their parents has far more to do with other factors than whether their parents work.
I worked 3 days a week and then returned to full time when the youngest was 4. Dh and I also chose careers where we could both progress and earn decent money but without being all-consuming or involving loads of travel etc. It worked brilliantly for us, enabling us both to be pretty hands on with childcare and running the home as well as both having a career. But that’s as far as it goes: it worked brilliantly for us. The moment anyone starts telling others that this is what they should do with their family is a sure sign that they don’t feel secure in their own decision. That’s why I suspect on some level, conscious or not, the OP’s mother is perhaps a tad envious or threatened by the prospect of her daughter being a working mum of a young child.
Also OP on a reassuring note, my kids are all adults now. Looking at the now grown children of my friends who gave birth when I did, some had one parent working full time, some had both, some had a parent working part time... every combination under the sun. You wouldn’t be able to tell who had what! It’s perfectly possible to grow up into a happy successful adult with working parents or SAHP. Indeed I’m sure mine would be just as fine if I’d been a SAHM. The claim I’ll make about being a WOHM is that it’s enabled me to have a great career... nothing to do with my kids being ‘better’
And I would try to dissuade your mother from moving nearer you. She sounds overbearing and opinionated already and things will only get worse if she’s on the doorstep, having left her friends behind, criticising all your parenting decisions.
I do think it was probably unwise to get into all this for a hypothetical baby, though! Your DM was probably a lot blunter than she would have been if it was 'really' the choice you were making. Also, she probably thinks you're being naive. When pregnant I got a lot of 'ah but as soon as the baby's here you won't want to go back to work'. They were wrong.
You could be me OP! My mum is forever banging on about how once I have the baby I will understand and choose to go part time. She also cannot comprehend that if anyone went part time it would be my husband since I earn more than him.
She’s also adamant that she wants to do three days of childcare per week - but that we have to get the baby to her and pick it up at the end of the day. So that’s 2 hours of driving per day to drop off and pick up the baby, on top of the 3 hours a day we already spend commuting. That’ll work, mum...
This is all also for a baby which has not yet been conceived btw!
I just shut her down now by very obviously changing the subject. She clearly finds that a bit rude but there’s not much she can do about it if I just start talking about something else every time she mentions babies.
My children have no idea who I am..... oh no wait, that would explain the constant ma ma ma ma MA MA MA and Mummeeeeeee which follows me to the toilet every time
I am not a dr but an academic (head of dept). I will say that life has got easier since DH went PT. I do not know how much control you have over your hours but I do "long days" of c 15 hours on the 2 days DH is at home with the DC and then "short" 9-5 days the other 3 days when I am doing nursery runs. I will also frankly say I have lowered my standards at work in the sense that I don't get all stressy and perfectionistic over it in the same way. I am never fully on top of work tbh but I do a "good enough" job and the sky hasn't fallen in yet.
Incidentally someone asked me the other day if I was 'worried that DS would think the childminder is his mum'
Their solution wasn't actually that I give up work, it was that he goes to a nursery. A nursery is an equally valid option, of course, but to choose it specifically to make your child's attachment to their carers less secure seems selfish to me.
“Most children have no idea who their father is”
If your DM expresses these views again, ask her to keep them to herself!
Working PT was stressful and IMO derailed my career (not medicine/science!) , but FT has its challenges too.
They get used to it. My MIL was very upsetting about me returning to work during my mat leave (while she thought it was all to play for presumably) but once i’d gone through with it things settled down
Sadly, she's right. That's why most children have no idea who their father is. 'Who is this man, who is only here morning, evening and every weekend?', they ask. 'Is he some sort of friend of mummy? She is the only adult who I know, as I do not know any adults who are not here all day every day, so I guess he must be?'
By her reckoning, you had no idea who your Dad was. Ask her if that’s the case.
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