It’s 7.30am on Saturday morning and I’m in my car. I’m child and husband free. It’s just me and Fleetwood Mac. I even stop and grab a coffee and I relish the feeling of freedom. I’m driving down the Coast to Pro Blogger and after already having spent the day before at the conference I’m anticipating the day ahead. Cool and creative types, I’m not one of them but I still feel like I’ve found my people.
Then it hit me. I felt guilty.
Guilty because it felt like I was being completely self indulgent. I was going to be spending the day doing something that I was really looking forward to doing and it was something for me and me only and I felt bad.
Hear that? That’s the sound of mother’s guilt.
At first I tried to ration my thoughts by thinking that it wasn’t a big deal, it was only one day and who knows maybe it could lead to something that would one day benefit my family. Channelling these thoughts wasn’t working and so I started freaking the freak out. It occurred to me that maybe because I was shirking my responsibilities as a mother that something bad would happen as a result. I started imagining that while I was gone Charlie would fall over and break his leg. Never mind that I was leaving him in the best care possible (his awesome dad) and never mind that I leave him three times a week to go to work, today I felt like I was failing as a mother. At this point I was starting to feel a bit panicky and so I rang MM (he was also in the car and was on his way to swimming class with Charlie) and I explained to him that I was feeling a bit wobbly and then I started rambling about making sure he would just be a bit extra careful with Charlie today. Crazy I know but fortunately MM took it in his stride, God knows he is use to my ramblings, and assured me all was well. In the background I could hear Charlie saying “apple, apple” and so I hung up feeling slightly less hinged than before I rang. It’s commonly known that I can be rather wayward in my thinking and yet even in hindsight there is still the feeling of guilt that I haven’t quite yet been able to shake. So much so that I haven’t really been able to talk to MM about how super cool the conference was because I still feel like what I did was a naughty, decadent thing. That while I was listening to and being inspired by some of the best bloggers around MM was emptying the dishwasher and wiping scrambled egg off the floor.
48 hours later I was getting ready for work and getting Charlie ready for a day with his buddy Tom and our share Nanny “Rissa” and it occurred to me that I didn’t feel guilty going to work. In fact I don’t think since returning to work I have felt guilty. This is partly because I am very lucky and privileged to have excellent child care arrangements but I’m not sure why else. Is it because it is paid work that generates an income that directly impacts on Charlie? Country Road kids clothes don’t grow on trees you know.
I’ve just finished reading Motherhood and Creativity by Rachel Power (you can read about it here.) The book is a series of interviews that Rachel has conducted with various women about whether they have to choose between pursuing their creative dreams and having and raising children or is this something that is mutually exclusive. The interviews are insightful and much of the book resonated with me and where I am at in my personal pursuits.
Why is that I feel not guilty about going to paid work but I feel guilty doing something I’m not getting paid for but is a pursuit of happiness?
Of course I don’t have the answer to this and I don’t know if anyone really does. I think for the most part I’m just making it up as I go. What I do know though is that I want Charlie to have a mum who is happy and balanced. I want him to know that I pursued the very things that I might not be that awesome at but that they were the things that made me feel inspired and made me feel a bit sparkly.
Take it from me, feeling sparkly is much better than feeling guilty.