Gillette – The Best A Man Can Get?

{Also features on The M Word}

Let’s start by stating the obvious about all publicity – generally speaking it’s probably safe to say that all publicity ends up as good publicity, true?

It certainly seems to be true for Gillette anyway, who have managed to get the world talking about their recent ad which aims to wipe out sexism and promote equality. Taking phrases like ‘boys will be boys’ and highlighting how boys should be boys, but just respectful ones.

I’ve written about this topic before – here and here – it’s a topic I feel strongly about especially in relation to the fact that I am raising two boys, and I will be doing my level best to make sure they feel equal to everyone else. I think Feminism is assumed that it’s something only for girls, that it’s only girls who need to be taught that they can be anything or do anything, but boys need to know that this is also NORMAL – they should not feel like they’re doing anyone a favour by agreeing to that, or allowing it, it should just be as normal to them as it is to know that they too can do whatever they put their minds to without gender playing a part.

So with that in mind – I love the ad. I think the message it portrays is completely accurate, and completely necessary. The #MeToo movement IS happening, boys ARE taught that they shouldn’t display emotions, and most importantly, if you KNOW something is wrong you should ABSOLUTELY stand against it, even amongst your peers. Especially amongst your peers! I really hope I can teach my sons to be able to do this, to have the courage to do it because of course it wouldn’t be an easy thing to do. I’ve seen comments online where, I suppose it’s coming from a place of feeling threatened, men are unhappy with the idea as if it’s about something being taken away from them, rather than being given to all of us.

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

However.

There’s a definite conflict happening here from Gillette. As much as I like their ad, and think well done Gillette, you’ve risked alienating a massive proportion of your audience and customers here for a really important and necessary cause, (for publicity let’s not forget) but let us also not forget that women grow hair too, and therefore, women might also want to use your products. Gillette might be more associated with men as a male brand, but they of course realise that women don’t naturally have bare legs and bare armpits and bare anything else and so they market at us too.

And here’s the conflict – if they’re all about feminism and equality then why are their products for women all in the typical pink, feminine, soft wishy-washy colours? And worse, why are they all priced higher than the same products for men? This happens across almost any product that is sold to both men and women, so it’s hardly a surprise, but when you’re shouting so loudly about how you’re all for equality, then maybe actions speak louder than words!

Let’s take a look to prove my point. This morning I went on to one of the main supermarket chains website and searched for Gillette. First up is shaving gel.

Gillette – The Best A Man Can Get is a hefty discount
  • Aimed at Women – Satin Care Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel – €1.44 per 100ml
  • Aimed at Men – Classic Sensitive Skin Shaving Gel – €1.25 per 100ml

Hmm. Next up is razor blades –

I think we can tell which is aimed at men and which one is aimed at women. One is €1.98 per blade and the other is €3.00 per blade..!!!

It’s not shocking because it’s not new, and yet it is shocking because it’s just sickening. And yet, it clearly works because women are obviously spending more money on the same product just because it says the word ‘satin’ or because it’s a nice colour, and basically because the marketing is working and convincing us that our hairs shave differently to men’s hairs do. This problem occurs across lots of products – even to pens..!

So on the one hand, Gillette need to do as they say really and for me to be completely impressed, stop charging women higher prices for sexist reasons. On the other hand, the ad does attempt to teach a very important and necessary lesson, and we can only hope that in the end feminism and equality are the real winners out of it all.

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The Day We Went To Zog’s House

This post is a collaboration with, and is sponsored by Chill.ie

I was given the opportunity recently to take a look at these e-books, put together by Chill Car Insurance which gather together a collection of suggested places to drive to within Ireland. They group them into categories such as, ‘Ireland’s Most Beautiful Drives’, and ‘Hidden Drives Ireland’, and even one with helpful tips on driving in the winter.

One of the books, Irish Cultural Drives, which has a section of suggested places to bring the family, includes places like Dublin Zoo, or the Doolin Caves. But actually, when I spotted The Rock of Cashel listed under the cultural section, it inspired me to bring the boys there and make it a day of adventure for them.

We had never been before, and it just so happens that one of Rian’s favourite books is Zog, by the author of The Gruffalo. Zog is a dragon who goes to dragon school and learns all the basics of being a dragon, like flying and breathing fire, and rescuing princesses from castles… and what better place to hunt for Zog than the Rock of Cashel?

His little face when we told him where we were going….eyes lit up, and the questions came fast. ‘Will Zog be there? Will we see him? Does he fly up high? WIll Princess Pearl be there too?’

It was an easy sell. If there’s one thing I’ve realised recently is that at this age (four and two), they really don’t care where we are, or where we go, as long as they can come too. Whether it’s a trip to the shop to do the weekly grocery shop, or a walk around the block, or our favourite walk in the woods, they really don’t care. Obviously I love to see them outside and running around as much as possible, especially this time of year when the weather isn’t great, so this was a good chance for us to go somewhere new.

When we got there, as expected on an overcast, cold day in  January, it wasn’t too packed with tourists which we were glad of. Rian spotted the castle as we drove into the town of Cashel – ‘I SEE THE CASTLE MAM!!’ There was no sign of Zog yet though, so we decided after the hour long drive to go for a bite to eat first in Cashel as I’m pretty sure it’s harder to find dragons on an empty stomach.

After a delicious lunch in a cafe called Bowes & Co (highly recommend a visit here!) , off we went to The Rock.

After a bit of a confusing and unnecessary loop around Cashel town centre – twice! – before we eventually found the right turn, we parked the car and walked up the hill. Rian was on constant lookout for Zog… so far though no luck. I started to wonder how he’d take it when it turned out we weren’t actually going to see him, and was wondering about just how clever I actually was, when we got inside and the OPW staff member greeted us.

‘Excuse me, is Zog here?’

Straight in, no messing around. The OPW lady, whose name was Julie-Anne, looked slightly confused. ‘Ehhmmm… hmm. Let me see…’ and she looked at me for guidance, looking slightly panicked! ‘Zog is our favourite dragon from one of our favourite books… we were wondering if he’s home at the moment?’

Full credit to Julie-Anne. Without skipping a beat she said ‘OHHH Zog? Yes Zog lives here! Come over here and I’ll show you where his bedroom is’.

She led us into the main part of the ruin. ‘Look up there, do you see those windows high up? That’s Zog’s bedroom’

Rian’s little face couldn’t believe that we were actually where Zog lives. Susan showed him various things, like if you look out this window here, sometimes you can see him whizzing by, but he flies so fast sometimes you can’t always see.

‘So is he home then?’ The moment of truth. Julie-Anne looked at her watch. ‘ oh no, not at this time, he’d be out looking for his dinner now’.

I looked at Rian wondering how he’d take the news.

‘Oh right no problem, maybe we’ll see him tomorrow then!’ And that was that!

We spent another half an hour or so just walking around and taking in the beautiful views, even on a dull grey day. The kids were able to run around themselves without making too much noise, full of adventure and wonder, something that I hope lasts forever but of course it probably won’t.

But maybe some of the magic will always linger regardless, memories of the day we went to Zog’s House.

The Time Is Now

When Rian was born, I used to hold him as a tiny baby during those long sleepless nights of feeding and think about what sort of little boy he’d be, what sort of teenager he’ll turn into, and what sort of man he’ll grow up to become. Back then, each stage seemed like light years away from those daunting newborn and baby stages. There’s something about being up in the depth of a long night feeding a baby that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world awake at that time. There were many hours spent wondering and making plans, thinking of all the ways I wanted to make sure that Rian, and then of course Alex, had the best childhood memories I could possibly give them.

Earlier this evening when Gavin arrived home from work, I took the opportunity to leg it for a quick shower (translation; I just wanted a few minutes to myself after a busy day with the boys!). While drying my hair and thinking of the jobs I want to get done tomorrow, Christmas Eve, it suddenly dawned on me, that the first stage has arrived. Holding a newborn Rian, and imagining the magic of future Christmases, it seemed so far away then. But here we are. It probably sounds ridiculously obvious but I realised properly today that this is it!

It’s time to start putting it all into action now, all the things I thought I wanted to do right back at the start.

Rian is four now, the first year he really fully gets it, the magic and excitement of it all. Now is the time to start the traditions they’ll grow up and remember with nostalgia. If we do our job correctly they won’t really remember the toys –  well, maybe the ‘big’ ones, maybe they year they get a bike will stand out! But I want them to remember the things we did, and the people we did them with.

I want to start these traditions and create enough memories and nostalgia so that when they think of Christmas it’s something that they feel.

And suddenly, rather than it being a plan for further down the road, the time is now.

Tomorrow might be the first Christmas Eve he’ll remember for the rest of his life! The more I think about it the more I realise it’s a big responsibility, being responsible for childhood memories…but now that it’s here, I can’t wait to get going! 

It’s all systems go. I have the Christmas cookie cutters ready to go, ready and waiting to make cookies to lay out for Santa tomorrow night. We’ll bake and decorate some tomorrow and choose the best of the crop to leave out for the main man’s arrival. We have fresh carrots, ready to choose the juiciest one for Rudolph. We’ll probably leave a glass of milk for Santa, (which may or may not be replaced with some Guinness which I suspect Santa might be more in the mood for…!), but don’t worry, an empty milk glass will be replaced for inspection on Christmas morning to make sure Santa got the appropriate refreshments for his big night! 

We have the Christmas Eve box ready to be filled, with new pajamas, some hot chocolate ingredients, one or two little surprises, and of course, The Night Before Christmas which will be read right before we go to sleep, nice and early of course.

Most importantly we have planned visits over the coming days of family and friends, meals to share, games to play, and laughs to be had. Music will be playing, presents will be opened, food and drink will be eaten and enjoyed, and I hope more than anything, memories will be made. Smells, sounds, tastes and feelings of magic and excitement, all mixing together and embedding themselves within these two little boys, hopefully to last a lifetime.

‘May they never be too grown up to search the skies every Christmas Eve…’ – the time.. is now.


 

 

Elf on The Shelf – Thanks, But No.

{Also published on The M Word }

People who know me, know that I love Christmas. Actually, it’s the run up to Christmas that I particularly love – the planning, the choosing of gifts, the atmosphere and the excitement. I even have a ‘wrapping theme’ every year where I’ll carefully choose what paper and accessories I use to wrap my presents! Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous but I love it. Once all the shopping is done, I’ll pick an evening and put on a Christmas movie and sit on the floor in the sitting room and happy wrap and stick and accessorise with ribbons and bits of holly etc – according to the theme of course!

And it’s even better now with our two boys, Rian has just turned four and this is the first year where he’s really getting a good concept of Santa, and the excitement of it all, it already feels magical. Seeing it through their eyes again is as good as seeing it new myself, all the memories of my own childhood Christmasses. When I look back at them, for the most part I don’t really even remember what the toys were, I just remember the magic of it all. Being so sure we could hear Rudolph landing on the roof, holding up the half chewed carrot the next morning in wonder that THE Rudolph and really ACTUALLY TOUCHED this carrot!! Amazing!

Why am I telling you all this? Well, to illustrate that this is the sort of Christmas person I am – a certified Christmas fanatic. So with that in mind, I even surprise myself a bit by not buying into the whole idea of the Elf on the Shelf.

Why? Well, for a couple of reasons.

First up – he just looks creepy. There’s nothing appealing about it to me at all – he looks like a doll you’d see in a horror movie. The way he’s kind of looking to the side with that odd little smile… it’s unnerving! I don’t like the look of him. He doesn’t evoke a cutesy image of a typical Santa elf, elves are usually more cuddly looking or something aren’t they? Kind of like Doc from the seven dwarfs…? Anyone…?! No, just me then…! Regardless, this fella definitely looks like he’s up to no good.

Which brings me to my second reason. That’s probably the whole point, looking like he’s up to no good. The idea is that he gets moved around each night, and gets up to mischief, so the kids will wake up and find him somewhere new, and of course I can see how that’s exciting and magical for them, of course I do.

But the effort!

I’m all about Christmas magic and excitement but the thought of having to come up with 24 different imaginative things for this elf to do,and then on top of all the other jobs we have already to have to remember each night to carry it out… it just isn’t something that screams fun to me.

My third reason, is that I really don’t need to spend all of December, whenever I open Facebook, to have to scroll through all the elves who have spent their nights throwing breakfast cereal all over the kitchen floor,or rubbing toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror – or getting stuck in toilet bowls or whatever hilarious situation he might find himself in!

However, for me, the main reason I don’t like it is that some kids are told that the whole purpose of the elf is that he keeps an eye on things, and can report back to Santa if behaviour isn’t up to scratch. Similar to the ‘Santa Cam’ CCTV setup, it basically tells the kids that they’re being watched constantly, and if they put one step out of line, Santa will hear about it.

That whole concept just doesn’t sit well with me – I don’t want the boys associating Santa with any form of anxiety for any reason whatsoever. I don’t want to essentially threaten them that if they’re not good boys then Santa won’t arrive. I don’t like the idea that they couldn’t be their normal selves at home for fear of an elf watching them…!

Of course I’m fully aware that Santa himself allegedly watches you… ‘ he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake’, as the song happily tells us each year. But I stand by my opinion of the elf –there’s something more final or concrete, or just basically more certain with an actual physical elf (albeit inanimate!) sitting on a shelf, watching you and reporting you, with his weird sideways beady little eyes looking off knowingly as if to say, ‘ I just saw that, and I’m gonna tell on you!’

No thanks.

So there’ll be no elf on our shelves this year, or any other year. Bah Humbug? Maybe… maybe I’m not all about Christmas as much as I like to think! But one thing I know is I’ll be glad when I’m falling into bed at the end of a long day, and won’t be having a last minute panic about having forgotten to move some creepy looking elf into some non-hilarious magical position of mischief!

…And Yesterday I Cried

“The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.”

-Annabel Crabb, Policital Journalist

{Also features on The M Word }

I’m very sure there are lots of us for whom this quote resonates. Most of the time it’s a case of just getting on with it, stopping every so often and wishing things like, ‘if only they could sleep all night’ or ‘if only they could sleep past 6am’; most of my ‘if onlys’ definitely tend to revolve around sleep and the lack of it. For the most part we don’t do too badly, they are great at going to bed at 7pm, following the routine without any resistance, it’s usually smooth enough. Some nights they don’t wake up at all but other nights they’ll wake up for random reasons. But mainly I really cannot complain, they are really great kids.

But this week has really made me feel sorry for myself. This week, I can read that quote and it screams absolute relevance at me, this week has been a big lesson on trying to juggle and balance everything all at once. Thankfully, I’m not talking about major disasters, we’re all ok thankfully, but everything is relevant. I have found this week a big challenge of trying to keep all the plates spinning and I’m not ashamed to admit, this week has reduced me to tears.

It started last weekend when Alex suddenly went off his food and we realised he had caught a dose of Hand Foot & Mouth – a highly contagious virus, but very common viral infection that  most kids will pick up at crèche. It would mean he would need to stay home for the week. The risk of course was that Rian would likely catch it too – however instead, Rian caught a dose of tonsillitis so was also disqualified from crèche for a few days. This meant juggling around work options to be able to make sure they’d be minded, while also needing to get Rian seen to at the doctor.. and following an allergic reaction to the penicllin they prescribed late in the evening, and a very worrying hour as his body broke out in a frightening angry looking rash… things were getting stressful.

Thankfully, I’m extremely lucky to have an understanding manager who relieved a lot of that stress by letting me work from home, and Gavin has enough holidays to be able to look after the other half of the week. It was multi-tasking at a new level. Answering emails whilst wiping a face. Taking phone calls while cutting toast into triangles, and definitely not into squares. Dealing with work queries whilst dealing with various types of rashes that kept appearing on each child… essentially activating the two main parts of myself – the mother me and the work me – working each job in the same place at the same time. The feeling of being pulled in two opposite directions at exactly the same time.

And I’ll repeat – in the grand scheme of things, it’s just life. These things will happen, these types of weeks will come along. I’m thankful it wasn’t anything more serious of course. But that doesn’t mean I should just shrug it off and pretend I didn’t feel like I was really up against it, and really feeling under pressure.

Exhaustion, frustration, stress and worry were the main reasons behind the tears, but also the feeling that I’m inadequate in conflicting ways –

inadequate at being a mother because despite the boys having to be at home, I also had to work, and inadequate at my job because although I had to perform my duties, I also had to be their mother.

And it’s hard.

I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that I’m allowed to find it hard. I’m allowed to take a moment and feel sorry for myself – more than that – I think it’s really important to do it, acknowledge it. Throw in the fact that we haven’t had  much sleep to speak of all week, the fact that I’m most certainly coming down with something myself now, the fact that the commute was extra crappy this week with a two hour delay getting home.. all these little things chipping away and any sense of control I have over things normally.

So yesterday I cried. But also… I did it. I eventually got home last night after that disastrous commute, I got inundated with cuddles and hugs from the boys and from Gavin too that almost made the long delays worth it! I tucked them into bed and I put my feet up and – although tempted by a nice cold glass of Guinness! – had a cup of tea instead and figured I deserved to treat myself to something nice. So I did.

Today, the week continues and we discovered that Rian has also managed to catch the Hand Foot & Mouth virus from his little brother – let’s face it, it was probably inevitable – and so it means a weekend ahead of being housebound. It’s the week that keeps on giving – yes it is hard, and we’ve no doubt another few sleepless nights ahead until they’re virus free – but it was the week that made me realise that yes, the obligation of that working mother is that I will have to work as if I don’t have children, and be their mother as if I don’t have a job.

But at least I’ve learned that I can do it.

Let’s Talk About Emotions

{Also published on The M Word }

I’ll be clear from the start: Most of the time, I’ve NO IDEA how to handle this situation.

But now that we’ve established our three-year-olds are essentially walking bundles of emotional confusion, what can we do to help them – and ourselves – get through it? Well, here’s what I’ve discovered on my quest to find out.

Last summer, when Rian was two and that all important half, I started seeing that he was randomly slapping other kids, for no apparent reason other than, ‘they’re toddlers, sometimes they just do that’, as people explained when I asked about it, and what I could do about it. It was quite stressful, if he did it to kids we knew, or kids we didn’t know, all I could do was apologise and try and make it clear to Rian in that moment that we do not slap people..however, during some research into it and how to handle it properly, I came across a recommendation for a book called The Colour Monster. Sold.

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Sniffy & The Colour Monster

The Colour Monster by Anna Llenas is a book about identifying emotions for children.

Any research I did about the slapping incidents, or major meltdowns in general which were starting to become more frequent, all told me what we already know – they don’t call them the Terrible Twos or Threenagers etc for nothing. Toddlers don’t know what the emotions they’re feeling are, or how to manage them.

To be fair, and perfectly honest, a lot of the time I find it hard to control MY emotions (specifically, impatience and temper), so how can I expect a two or three year old to be able to do it?

My research also explained how emotional intelligence is something that ideally should be taught from a very young age so that we can learn to control and understand how we feel in lots of situations, not just as kids, but as adults too. So I figured it was worth a shot.

When the book arrived, we started reading it for our bedtime stories. It’s a quick book, a line or two per page with really lovely illustrations. It takes you through five emotions: Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Calm. It assigns a colour to each emotion and explains that sometimes you can feel lots of things at once, when all your ‘colours’ feel all mixed up.

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After a few reads, Rian knew all the words. The slapping continued every now and then, and all I could really do was intervene each time and firmly explain why we don’t slap other people. Of course it was still stressful and I went through all the usual worry of, am I doing this wrong?

Tantrums are par for the course and so they continued, and still happen – in fact we just had one about an hour ago (side note, he’ll be four soon enough… they stop at four, right??!!). But what started to change was that he was identifying how he felt… and I’m no expert, but I think this is the important bit.

For example, just the other night, Alex merely sat on my lap to read a book, so naturally by his three-year-old logic, this was deemed as a valid reason for Rian to have a big meltdown. At the height of a tantrum, (on the days I manage to keep myself calm too – let’s be completely honest; it’s not easy), I just weather the storm and wait for it to pass. Once it does, I ask does he want to cuddle for a minute. Sometimes he does, and other times, its as if nothing had ever happened… like a switch flicking from complete chaos to complete calm..!

But on the days where he takes up my offer of a cuddle, I talk to him about it. This is where The Colour Monster comes into it and where I’ve found it an amazing help.

I started noticing that he’d tell me he was feeling like ‘The Red Colour Monster’ when he was angry. Another day he came over to me, and out of nowhere just asked for a cuddle because he felt ‘like the Blue Colour Monster’. Another time he asked me if I was happy ‘like the Yellow Colour Monster?’… and so I knew that he was at least learning to identify each emotion with a label, to recognise each one and differentiate between them.

Now I’m no expert, maybe this would have happened anyway as he got over each stage of development, I don’t know. But the book most certainly helped us talk about it in a way he could easily understand and picture in his mind. So back to the other night when he had a tantrum over Alex sitting on my lap, without me even asking him he walked over, got the book, opened it on the Red page and told me ‘This is how I feel Mama!’

Thankfully, the slapping phase is over, can’t say I’m looking forward too much to Alex getting to this stage, with any luck he’ll skip it altogether… yeah I won’t hold my breath! But if you’re reading this and are nodding along knowingly, in the same boat, then I can’t recommend this book enough. There’s a similar one too by Dr Seuss called My Many Coloured Days – we came across this one a while after The Colour Monster, and I really liked it too but we had already gotten to know The Colour Monster so I just stuck with that one.

I don’t think there’s a ‘too early’ stage, Rian was two and a half when I bought it – if they’re sitting long enough to look at books for any length of time, then give it a go. Go forth and unravel that little bundle of confusion!

Anyway, don’t forget, the very second you happen to figure out one confusing phase, they’ll leave you behind,  move on to the next one and you can start all over again…

The Guilt Factor

Each morning, Monday to Friday, for the last 10 minutes of my commute to work just before I walk into the office building, I try and FaceTime the boys for a chat, especially on mornings where they are asleep when I’m leaving the house and I haven’t seen them yet. Alex usually blows me kisses and babbles very important things at me. Rian, more often than not doesn’t want to talk. This morning though, when I was having chats with Alex, in the background he said: ‘ I don’t want to talk to Mama on the phone, I want to talk to her here!’.

For a moment I considered turning around and going straight back home again, giving him a hug and telling him I’ll never leave him. But I can’t, because I have to go to work – and I want to go to work too – and at the end of the day, the bills need to get paid. So I felt the usual pang of guilt that I usually feel a few times a day, except a bit worse than usual because he had said that, and finished my gurgley chat with Alex and headed towards my desk, feeling pretty crap about myself as a mother.

If I had the freedom to choose, I don’t think I would choose to be a full time stay at home mother, I just know it wouldn’t be for me. Part time would be my ideal option, because at same time, I want to be with them all the time too. It’s that very tricky, ever elusive, perfect balance.

Guilt is something I became familiar with very early on, in fact, since the start of my first pregnancy. We are IVF parents, very very lucky ones at that, our treatment worked. So it was a bit of a surprise to me that I didn’t particularly enjoy being pregnant – extremely grateful yes, of course, but pregnancy for me was months of nausea, vomiting, swollen feet, extreme heartburn… ok my hair got a bit thicker and softer and my skin looked nice and almost glowy (possibly from the hot flushes!) for a while but even that catches up with you after the baby is born and your hair falls out and you’re left with these mad sticky outy bits all over your head while it grows back to normal again…!! Aaand breathe…! So no, if I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy being pregnant for the most part. Appreciative, yes, and lots of it I did love and cherish – the feeling of Bump moving around or kicking, but not really any of the rest of it.

Anyway back to the point… so I didn’t enjoy pregnancy, it was tough. I felt guilty about that because of our IVF and I thought of all the women who would swap places with me in a heartbeat because I used to be that woman too. And of course the moment they’re born you’re guilty all the time, am I doing this right, did I do that wrong?

When I went back to work after Rian’s maternity leave, the guilt was immense. How could I leave him every day, why was I working for a major chunk of my wages to pay someone else to see all of his ‘firsts’? And it only got worse, after I had Alex I thought I would be prepared for how it would feel to go back to work, but in fact it was worse again because what I wasn’t prepared for was Rian being old enough now to ask me, after a year of being home, ‘Mama, where are you going? Why won’t you stay here with me?’

It was very hard. I questioned myself a lot at the return to work last year. Why am I doing this?? Oh yes, then I remembered, I just don’t have the choice.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Is there a way to come to terms with this guilt or are we just destined to never be happy whatever the situation is – whether we give up work and stay at home, or if we choose not to stay at home?

I thought a lot last year about whether I wanted to give up work, assuming we could afford it and I could stay at home. It would be tight, but I think if we cut back enough we could probably get by on one wage. And is it even fair to assume that it would be me who stays home, what if their Dad wanted to stay home? I admit that thought didn’t even occur to me at the start. But even if I did stay home, I think the guilt would still find me anyway, and make me think about other things – can we afford to save for their college fund? Can we afford to give them all the things we want to?

And the other thought is – really the main reason I don’t want to give up my job – what will I do when they’re older and not as dependent on me? What if I want to go back to work then, when they’re off to school, and I have a five or six year gap on my CV – it’s hard enough going back after maternity leave,  your confidence is shaken a lot, or at least mine was. So a big gap, for me, would be very intimidating. So is it selfish of me to not want to be in that situation, to not want to sacrifice my career? Does that mean I’m a bad mother? And the guilt factor starts again.

Being a working mother, it sneaks up on you on a regular basis. When a work commitment clashes with an event at their creche or playschool, and we’re faced with missing it. Guilt. At Rian’s playschool Sport’s Day back in June, I took the day off work. Within the first ten minutes, three other mothers had mentioned to me that they hadn’t realised that our childminder, who they see every day dropping off and collecting Rian, wasn’t in fact his mother. Ouch.

Recently, our childcare situation  changed, and I was forced again to consider all of these points. I really struggle to come to some sense of peace with the fact that I’m gone all day from them. Today was their first day in a creche – Alex in particular has never been minded outside his own home until today – and I wasn’t there to drop them off. Guilty. They’re fine of course – the staff are amazing and sent me little updates and photos of them happily playing away, but my guilty mind goes into overdrive and I wonder what will they think of these decisions I’m making now when they’re all grown up? Will they think I’m selfish? Will they resent the fact that I ‘chose’ to leave them with someone other than me while I ‘chose’ not to give up my career? Ultimately, I suppose I’m thinking – how will they judge me? Am I ruining their childhood?!

I don’t know how to make the guilt go away, but I have decided to make some rules for myself.

  • I am not a bad mother. I am doing my best, along with everyone else. Yes, I go to work for myself because I enjoy it, but also of course so that I can give them everything I possibly can not just now but later in life too. I’m doing my best, and I have to tell myself that my best IS good enough.
  • Don’t focus on the negatives – instead I will focus on the times I am there. Their little faces when they see me coming through the door each evening, and the fun we can have all weekend. It makes me more grateful and appreciative of those times.
  • Most importantly of all: I make it my mission that they know they are loved. I know they know. And once they know that, I know I’m not failing completely.

Whatever way I look at it, mother guilt is here to stay, no matter what type of mother you are. There’s no point in questioning why we beat ourselves up over it, but in the end all I can suggest is that we get off our own backs, get off our own cases, and make the most of whatever situation we’re in. Guilt is not a choice, but how we deal with it certainly is.