Thursday, 8 January 2009


Something most of the parenting books don't mention - when your body starts releasing those pregnancy hormones, it also lets loose a tidal wave of guilt. The hormones go away eventually; the guilt you will never be rid of.

All mums feel guilt. Stay-at-home mums feel guilty when they stick their kids in front of the TV so they can cook the dinner. Working mums feel guilty when they stick their kids in front of the TV while they put their make-up on. Work-at-home mums feel guilty when they stick their kids in front of the TV while they check their email. Mums without TVs feel guilty when their kids come home from school asking why they can't watch Charlie and Lola.

I always planned to be a WAHM. I went into the publishing industry knowing that it was one that offered very good freelancing opportunities (among many other reasons). I set up my business years before starting my family, so that it would be well-established by the time that family came along. My role model in this was probably my mother, who always worked from home, and her mother before her, who co-ran the family business. I actually found it difficult to imagine doing it any other way.

I thought the guilt of working full-time would have been overwhelming, as would the boredom of being a SAHM. But the truth of it is that the WAHM has her fair share of guilt and the SAHM with children under five is unlikely to find the time to be bored, the job is far too varied.

I feel guilty when:
  • I turn the TV on at 3pm (Peppa Pig on Nick Jr, followed by Peppa Pig on Nick Jr 2) to get an hour of housework done

  • I shout, or screech even, 'Come here and put your coat on! Now!' instead of finding some creative way to turn it into a fun game

  • I use biscuits to cajole her into the buggy

  • I sit and watch TV without ironing or being in some way useful

  • I have to stop playing shops to take a phone call

  • I do something other than work during nursery school and granny hours

  • I snap and shout because I haven't had enough sleep

  • I snap and shout because I haven't got enough time

  • I snap and shout because I've got my period

  • I snap and shout because I'm annoyed with someone else

  • I snap and shout

  • I'm late for pick up

  • I say no to a bath because it's too late

  • I say no to play dough, because it will make a mess

  • I say no to digging in the garden because it's too cold.

And so it goes on...

Loathe though I am to sound soppy and corny, it is, of course, worth every single second of guilt and I wouldn't have it any other way. Except maybe if those lottery numbers come up.

1 comment:

  1. Ah the guilt, guilt, guilt. It's the ticket to the Parents' Club.