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Advice on handling criticism and feeling guilty for going back to work?

(33 Posts)
Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:15:26

I went back to work four days a week when my dd was 4 months old. Before I even went back other mothers in the mothers group I attended told me how awful it was that I would do this. Back at work I got more of this opinion, mainly from the men. Maybe I should point out that I live in Switzerland now and perhaps it's different in the UK. There is a strong attitude of mothers staying at home here.

I don't know why they feel they are allowed to criticise my decision and worse, I don't understand why I'm taking it. Normally I'm quite assertive but recently I seem to be pretty weak. I've been back for three months and I still come home wanting to cry and feeling like the worst mother in the world.

I adore my baby and love spending time with her. She is in a very good babygroup with excellent carers and she is a happy little girl. So I know I shouldn't feel guilty and bad but I do and I don't know how to stop.

Any advice please?

RubySlippers Mon 13-Aug-07 20:18:08

oh dear
i went back to work when DS was 6 months old (he is now 14.5 months)
you have to stop feeling guilty because it is the right decision for you and your family and you don't have to justify to anyone outside of that group
don't feel like a bad mum because you aren't
who are those people criticising you - is it friends and family as that can be harder to take than colleagues or strangers

Bubble99 Mon 13-Aug-07 20:18:36

No advice but bumping this for someone who can help.

RubySlippers Mon 13-Aug-07 20:20:44

if somone makes an untoward comment then say something like "it is really is none of your business" with a lovely smile and walk away

moondog Mon 13-Aug-07 20:20:54

A brisk 'Snout out' and tapping of nose generally works well when unsolicited advice offered i find.

Might lose summat in translation however...

Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:23:20

It's mainly colleagues and mothers from the mothers group - that I don't go to anymore surprisingly. But also there are some relatives and friends. I just find myself making a list of excuses, like I want them to approve about my choice and I've never been like that before.

I know in my head it's the right thing because it's best for us as a family but I just feel terrible.

Bushnels Mon 13-Aug-07 20:24:09

Swear a lot at them and then ask them if they would like to pay your bills etc..

I got this a bit although most of it I suspect went unsaid (to me that is). I could feel the bile rising up as I read your post.

The fucking cheek of people to think they have a right to tell you how to live. I'm not saying that working as aMum is great nor am I saying staying at home is good but NEEDS MUST. Tackle them head on if they have the cheek to say it to your face.

A great line I read here I think was 'I don't want to be a financial burden on my koids when they get older'. Just chant it like a mantra.

Perhaps you could get some classic one liners from Xenia!!!

RubySlippers Mon 13-Aug-07 20:26:08

you have summed it up in your last sentence - "i know it is the right thing for me and my family"
some days it is difficult when i leave my DS at nursery but he is happy and thriving and being blunt we couldn't manage without my wage
stop being hard on yourself - does your DH beat himself about this - i bet he doesn't or get any comments - tell him how you feel - share your feelings

McEdam Mon 13-Aug-07 20:27:00

What rubyslippers said. Fear Moondog is right about snout out getting lost in translation.

Honestly, you are doing the right thing for your family. Your baby is happy - it really is none of their business. Somehow people love to give parents the benefit of their, unasked-for, opinions and advice. But you don't have to take them seriously.

(If it is a cultural, Swiss thing, just remember that they only gave women the right to vote in 1972 - they are clearly barking, anyway!)

Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:29:52

Oh they have no problem being direct about this - I was even asked about the health of my dd because clearly I wouldn't be breastfeeding if I was at work.

You are right, I should tell them to mind their own business but I just haven't so far. I need to start.

Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:31:36

And they only started maternity pay as a legal requirement in 2005 - which I suppose typifies the society

WanderingTrolley Mon 13-Aug-07 20:32:55

If 'snout out' doesn't work, smile your best patronising smile and say "Yes, you've said that before dear" whilst silently roaring


I think you need to find some other working mums to pal up with.

WanderingTrolley Mon 13-Aug-07 20:34:44

Or what about

"hmm.. I'll see what dh thinks about that - after all he went back to work when dd was [a week? two weeks old?]"

Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:35:20

I am sorely tempted to try "Snout out" and not bother with the translation

Jackstini Mon 13-Aug-07 20:39:03

I found that 'oh, I'm sorry - did you want me to tell you how to live your life...' usually did the trick.
dd loves her nursery and is very well adjusted socially. As I am the main wage earner we would have to move house for me not to go back to work, which I felt was a worse option.
I found it wierd too that people thought I wasn't b/f-ing because I was at work, others thought it hilarious I carried my breast pump around with my lap-top!
You know you are doing the right thing, that's a;; that matters in the long run

GodzillasBumcheek Mon 13-Aug-07 20:39:16

People have no right to judge you. I do believe in trying to spend time with dcs, but i am sure everyone does, and going back to work won't stop you from spending quality time with your kids. It's not just a question of finance with alot of people either, i know lots of people seem to get on better with their kids and feel more able to cope with their more 'annoying' times when they have spent time away from them during the day. Being a sahm can be extraordinarily boring, and being with the same people 24/7 can grate on the nerves...

Hope you get on ok anyway.

kickassangel Mon 13-Aug-07 20:45:56

i have a friend who seems to think i damaged dd by working ft. hwoever, she's also very envious of our financial stability AND she send her ds to nursery 5 mornings a week, so all a bit hypocritical.

sahm were a phenomena of post war europe due to financial depression & not enough jobs. govts took a perceived ideal & rammed it down our throat to make us give up jobs for men. let them be stepford wives if they want to. there have always been women who worked ft & been excellent mothers. are some of the comments just curiosity due to cultural differences? if they have been told all their lives that women ca't work because they have to stay home & breastfeed, well then you really will be raising some eyebrows. perhaps you could mention madonna, cherie blair, margaret thatcher, mary wollstonecraft (sp?) and any others. they all seem to be successful working women who are quite well known.

and yes, no-one ever asks dh if he is damaging his children by working. it is up to you & your family to decide

Mumie Mon 13-Aug-07 20:50:45

It is fairly unusual to work and be a mama here but two other girls my age have had babies in the last couple of months and there has already been speculation about them coming back to work. I think once people are faced with a few more of us it might help them understand better.

Mumie Tue 14-Aug-07 08:12:21

Thanks for all the messages and I know you are right. Since the birth I've felt a bit like I don't really know what I'm doing and have been worried about making mistakes. I think this is why I've found it hard to tell people to mind their own business - even though I KNOW I don't need their approval and for many reasons this is the best thing for us - but I am starting as of today.

berolina Tue 14-Aug-07 08:24:11

Are you in the German-speaking part? I used to work as a lecturer in Germany and one of my students, in a seminar, referred to me as a 'Rabenmutter' [note: this is a delightful German word meaning basically 'uncaring mother' which is almost exclusively used for WOHM. Nice]

I can imagine CH is pretty conservative (was in southern Germany - now in Berlin and we get looked at oddly because ds, 2yo, is not in kindergarten )

You've had some fab advice here. Patronising smile a good option. Can you find some WOHM to meet up with? My boss's wife runs a WOHM group/network over here - not sure she'll know about CH, but there should be something of some description.

Mumie Tue 14-Aug-07 08:45:08

How incredibly rude of your student! I don't think I've been called that - but my Swiss German is rubbish so you ever know

Yes we are in the German speaking part, near Zürich, and it is VERY conservative about almost everything. My dh got a right telling off from our neighbour for doing DIY in our basement when he should be doing it in the special secret DIY room ....

Most of my friends work but don't have children but there are a few expat organisations around that I will them check out for WOHM groups - it did sound so obvious once you suggested it but I just hadn't thought about it.

cmotdibbler Tue 14-Aug-07 12:54:22

I too get a lot of these sort of comments - mostly from men too. I've even had Swedish customers who commented that I couldn't be bfing if I was back at work, and wasn't that awful... DS is nearly 15 months and still bf - its a case of 'have breast pump, will travel' for me !
Generally, I go for 'glad that worked for your family, this is what works for ours', which seems to shut them up. Pushed further, I do get a bit ruder, but not as much as when pushed about having another child...

Mumie Tue 14-Aug-07 13:05:53

I have had that too. If I'm not being told I should really be at home I'm being told I MUST have another child because it is wrong to have only one!!

RedtartanLass Tue 14-Aug-07 13:06:06

mumie have nothing to add, but as a parent who went back to work when her baby was 6 weeks old, just wanted to add my support. I used to get the same thing, but never felt guilty, never ever, just felt very angry that people felt it was OK to offer unwanted opinions!

So good luck and I'm glad you've found support and advice from the posters.

Wait until Xenia posts, she'll give you one one-liners I'm sure

cmotdibbler Tue 14-Aug-07 14:41:26

MIL told DH that we were cruel to make DS an only child. Given that he will be an only is that I had 3 miscarriages before him, and really couldn't cope going through that again, you'd think she'd know better. My last resort line of ' we've lost three babies, how many more do you think we should lose ?' does result in the vast majority of invasive questioners taking a sudden interest in their shoes..

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