The Mama Files {Ideals vs Realities}

Today’s Mama Files post comes from my gorgeous friend and all round awesome person, April of Composed by April. April writes about the realities of motherhood and parenting, versus the ideals we have and hold. This is a fantastic post which I know you’ll enjoy. Thank you April! xx

Growing up I always had this idea that I would grow up, get married, we would have our first child not long after getting married (probably about 9 months after), have three kids and I would be a stay at home mum. I would be on the kinder committee, do readers during school hours, be on the PTA and do canteen duty on a regular basis. I would cook nutritious meals for my kids to take for lunch, even dropping in hot meals in winter just so that they had something warm in their tummies, and I would have cookies baking of an afternoon so that they had a fresh snack for when I had picked them up (in my oversized SUV) from school. I had it all planned out.
It was what I didn’t have as a kid, and what I craved more than anything in the world. Don’t get me wrong, my mum did a fantastic job at raising me. She is my role model. She did everything known to man to give me the best upbringing possible. And by no means is this any reflection of her, it’s more of a ‘grass is always greener’ scenario. I was jealous of the kids who had the stay at home mum, who did all of the above. That jealousy lead me to an ideal of what I thought the “perfect” upbringing would be for my children.
Like most plans, they don’t work out the way you want them to.
I didn’t fall pregnant right away. It took us a few years to fall pregnant, and it was a hard road to take. I threw myself into my work, and eventually my turn to announce a pregnancy came. Nearly every woman I met told me how “I would love motherhood and not want to return to work”, which tied in with my ideal.
When my daughter was born I was thrilled, like just about every other first time mother. By the time she was 3 months old I wasn’t doing so great. I missed work. I missed using my brain for something more than working out what the best time to run to the shops would be between naps and feeds (simple answer – never!). I missed people talking to me as someone more than ‘the woman holding the child with a full head of hair’. To be honest, I missed the morning tea breaks and the gossip too. But most of all, I missed a major part of me.
When Eliza was 6 months old I did a week of contract work, which allowed me to get back into the office. I remember on the first day crying the entire half hour journey home, not because I hated it at work, but because I loved it. I knew then and there that my ideal was not going to be my reality. I wouldn’t, and couldn’t, be the stay at home mum that my ideal wanted me to be.
The next 6 months were hard. I battled with demons deep within my soul. I fought with my thoughts about what I should do. And I listened to way too many peoples opinions on the matter. People whose opinions didn’t really matter. I became the mother who was absent. I was there, but I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to do the stay at home mother thing, and that scared me. I was dealing with the guilt about wanting something more than what I always wanted, but at the end of the day, I had to do what was best for my family, and that was returning to work after maternity leave. I at least had to try.
Not one to do things by halves, I returned to full time employment, putting Eliza into full time care. It hasn’t been easy, life isn’t meant to be easy (apparently). It is a constant juggling act, especially when your husband works long hours and is often on the other side of the state, but we make it work. I have my days worked into time slots that need to be executed with military precision. We leave home at 6.50am each morning and get home at 5.40pm each night. I don’t have time to procrastinate about things.
I’ve been back at work for a year now, and it has gotten easier. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve dropped the ball many times, had to bail on work to go pick up a sick child, cried on the way to work because I felt like the world’s crappest mother for being selfish and going to work, and had guilt pushed onto me by other people who think that I am the worlds crappest mother for going back to work (yes, I have been told this. More than once). Mother guilt is a horrible thing, but over time I have learnt that people can only affect me if I let them. I control how other people make me feel. So, to the receptionist at the place where I used to get lunch, “take your opinion on working mothers and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. I refuse to let your narrow minded opinion bring me down”.
A lot of people ask me how I do it, and I tell them that I changed my ideals. My new ideal is to be the best mummy I can be for my daughter, doing what works for us. The smile, the kiss, and the cuddle I get at the end of each day tell me that I made the right choice. And at the end of the day, her happiness is what I crave the most, because she is happy just having a happy mummy!

If you would like to be a guest poster for The Mama Files, please shoot me an email at buffybrassil{at}hotmail{dot}com.


One thought on “The Mama Files {Ideals vs Realities}

  1. Lila Wolff

    Great post, I’ve done it both ways (at home and working) and either way is hard for different reasons. I really love seeing the honesty in this post, it’s so important that we all know that it’s our own choice to make. Even if it’s not the one we thought we would make.


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