It has always fascinated me that being a Mum now falls into a category. Young Mum, older Mum, married and unmarried, stay at home and working mum (or both), responsible and perhaps not so responsible, gourmet chef and baked beans on toast Mum, the Mum who has 2/3/4 beautiful children, and the Mum who cannot have any more. Search the internet and there are scores of different Mums out there.
We hear about Mums who gave up huge careers to have their babies and return to the workforce and deal with the struggle between their love for their work and their families. The young Mums who deal with the stereotypes of society that they can’t provide what people believe children need, that somehow older woman can. The women who live happily with their partners and their children together, but have to explain to the school secretary that their children’s last names are different to theirs, and that yes, their father still lives with them! I suppose it fascinates me because, at any one time in my 10 years of being a Mum, I have been one or a few of these labels.
I am the youngest Mum amongst the mothers in my 10 year old daughter’s class, but I am amongst the older few in my four year old daughters kindy class. I had my 21st birthday at a park, with my extended family, in the middle of the day, because it worked around my 6 month old’s nap and feeding times. I was breastfeeding her when someone pulled out my birthday cake! I had my 30th birthday last year, and the majority of the women there were my friends from the school, and most were in their 40’s. My kindy Mum friends came for the first half of my party, and then took off into the city to party on. I have been the young Mum, and now I am the older Mum.
I have always worked, both in and out of the home. We couldn’t afford for me not to. I often dreamed of being one of “those” mums, who went to the gym everyday and met the other mums for coffee and didn’t have to deal with daycare or babysitters because the rent had to be paid. I now know that all mothers who work have the same feeling when we are sitting in ours cars, driving to work. That deep feeling of guilt that we couldn’t stay home with the sick child, or that they were screaming because you left them at daycare or with the aunty or grandparent that they really don’t love as much as they love you.
The feeling that your baby, no matter how old, is going to miss out on something, I don’t know what in particular, by you not being there, making them your whole reason for living. And it doesn’t matter that the reason you’re going to work is to provide for them, or to give yourself a teeny bit of adult interaction, or to hold onto something for yourself for when they no longer need you as much as they do now, they don’t understand. And neither does your capacity for logical reasoning. But you do what you’ve got to do.
But the labels I have been and continue to be, have shaped the Mum I am. Not the woman I am, as I never really knew who I was before I became a Mum, but I guess there is time for that later!!
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