Time. There is simply never enough of it. Since becoming a mother I have really struggled with the whole work life balance concept. You see when my son was seven months old I received a call from my then Supervisor. She was leaving for another position and wanted to call and let me know personally. I was upset, I really loved working with her and couldn’t believe she was leaving.
She had become a mentor to me, she was everything I aspired to be. After hanging up the phone with her I was hit with lots of different thoughts and emotions, one of which was ‘opportunity’.
She was leaving… I was the head teacher, would I be able to go for the position? For whatever reason I felt compelled to call her back right then, awkwardly I asked her if she thought… if it would be out of the question… if I put my name forward for the position?’. I held my breath after I had spoken these words unsure of what her response would be. Thinking surely there would be a long awkward pause of her thinking of all the ways to let me down gently.
To my surprise and dismay she had the opposite reaction, she was quite encouraging, but made it clear that I would have to come back to work much earlier …. I said in so many words that it wouldn’t be a problem.
After some more discussion we hung up the phone and I immediately began to sob, what the hell was I thinking? Not even a day before was I trying to work up the courage to tell her I wanted to extend my mat-leave by two- three weeks. Now I was potentially going to go back to work 4 months early?
How could I fathom leaving my child at 8 months, what a hypocrite I had become. I knew a mother that made basically the same decision a year prior to go back to work early for a promotion. I remember thinking how could you even consider such a thing, I would never leave my child before he was at least a year old. Heck if I could I would be a stay at home mom!
The moment I hung up the phone with her, I immediately thought “shit what have I done…” I called my husband at work and through my sobs relayed both conversations to him, while repeating throughout, ‘I’m such an idiot, a selfish stupid horrible idiot’.
You see I had always earned significantly less than my husband and had a very large amount of school debt. He never once made me feel like this was an issue for him, still I always felt bad, felt that I was a financial burden. I vowed that I would always work hard and try and earn and contribute as much as possible so that we can pay off that debt. I always felt that debt was a burden and hindrance to our dreams of owning our own home, having children etc.
SO when this opportunity came up, I thought… this is my chance, my opportunity to advance my career yes but most importantly it would help my family. Financial stability was not a familiar phrase in my household growing up. As a child I vowed that my life would be different, but that’s a whole other story for another time.
In the end I did get the position and yes I sobbed quite a bit, but we managed, in most part because my Aunt looked after my son until he turned 1. This was my saving grace, knowing he was with family, knowing that she would bring him to me to breast feed and spend time together, that got me through what was a very hard time for me.
Till this day however I still feel like I choose my career over my son, still brings me to tears sometimes. I can’t help but be of the mind set that opportunities come and go, but your child is only young once.
What I did, the decision that I made was for my family in the long term, and despite my decision my son and I have an amazing bond.
However the regret and guilt still bubble up to this day, the ‘mothers’ guilt is such a real and profound thing… its quite amazing.