By Sholain Govender-Bateman , Pretoria based journalism lecturer who worked for The Star, Pretoria & other publications. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry. Follow her on Twitter @sholain
This is part 1 in a series entitled Ramblings of a (21st century) working mum
I remember my childhood when my mum and most of her friends were all home executives. My siblings and I were driven to school, picked up by my mother when needed and she was always available to help with homework, attend school functions and sporting events, assist with last-minute projects and of course, always had breakfast, tea and supper ready on time.
At that time in the conservative, middle-class community that I lived in, it was strange and even looked down upon as some form of neglect if a child had to return from school to an empty house and fend for himself whilst the mother in question was at work. People in my neighbourhood were quick to blame even the slightest misdemeanour on the ‘absence’ of the working mother.
Well, times have certainly changed. These days a stay-at-home mum whose husband is the sole breadwinner is the exception rather than the rule. Aside from the fact that most women have well-established careers before marrying and having children, few households can survive on a single-income budget.
It is clear to me that my family and I benefit from me working full-time. We have all the material things that we need and most of what we want. My husband and I are on equal footing after a full day’s work, and most importantly I maintain my individuality whilst also being a mum and wife.
The cons, however, cannot be ignored – I miss my two girls dearly every single day. The older is 3-years-old and my second is 4-months-old.
I don’t always get to see the milestones when they happen – when my first child started crawling, my husband was off that day and had the pleasure of seeing her scuttle lopsidedly across the floor. When he called me at work, I dropped everything and immediately drove home to catch a repeat performance but still remember my feeling of disappointment at not being there for the premiere.
The guilt of not being with them 24/7 never fades completely. This despite me knowing that that they are in excellent hands whilst I am away and should I ‘decide’ to stay home, we’d have to change our standard of living plus I’d have to give up a career.
This guilt is probably a remnant of my childhood when working women were judged, or it could be an innate maternal guilt that cannot be removed – whatever the cause – I sometimes wonder if me being away from my children for a large part of every day will result in them being misfits as adults – but then I look at the hundreds of succesful, functional people I know who were raised by working and realise that my concerns are unfounded.
The most important thing is to accept that I am a working mum and then balance my life and roles according to my circumstances.
(next) Part 2 – Working mum – balancing act supreme!