Being a mum and a career woman: my guilt

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After more than nine months spending quality time with my beautiful baby boy, Sulaiman, I have just returned to work.

I enjoyed every minute of my maternity leave, but was looking forward to returning to work and getting back into the swing of things.

I am fortunate enough to be working part-time (three days a week) since becoming a first-time mother, so why do I feel so guilty about leaving my baby?

It was Sulaiman’s first day at Ribblesdale Children’s Centre, Clitheroe, yesterday and although the staff there are very caring and wonderful, I had to face the emotional upheaval of leaving him and felt guilty all day that someone else was looking after him, feeding him and generally spending time with him rather than me.

Luckily he didn’t cry when I left, but I knew sooner or later he would realise that the person he is most attached to was not around and that’s when he would become unsettled.

Thanks to family support, Sulaiman is currently only attending nursery one day a week and I’m aware that he is safe and secure and that childcare will help him flourish, but then why am I racked with guilt that I have “abandoned” him?

I spoke to my mum about this new and unexpected sense of guilt, but she couldn’t understand why I was thinking of returning to work and why I didn’t want to take a “career break” or stay at home full-time to make sure Sulaiman is well looked after until he attends school.

I was raised in a family with caring and dedicated parents. My family was traditional – my dad went to work and my mum gave up her promising teaching career to raise her children.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, it was quite normal to expect the mother to stay at home, while the father was the breadwinner. Times have changed dramatically since then and it is now more acceptable and encouraged for mothers to work. Not only does it help to pay the bills, but helps to focus on their career and to keep one’s sanity too.

While I have great respect for and admire women who have made the difficult decision to give up their jobs to look after their young ones, my husband and friends keep reassuring me that I’ve done the right thing and Sulaiman needs more stimulation then just mummy at home and by attending nursery, he will gain excellent social skills. I love my son, but I also love my job – I just hope the guilt of being away from him reduces with time.