Friday 18 January 2019

Karen Koster's red carpet Mammy Guilt: 'It was freezing and I missed my flight home to my babies'

Karen Koster drops her sons Finn and JJ off at creche.
Karen Koster drops her sons Finn and JJ off at creche.
Karen Koster pictured with her children Finn and JJ at the opening night of The Helix Pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. Picture: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Karen Koster breaks down in tears on Mammy Guilt.
Karen Koster at the TV3 Spring 2018 Season Launch at Robertas
Ruth O'Neil, Glenda Gilson, Cassie Stokes and Karen Koster. Pic: TV3
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

TV3 presenter Karen Koster says that she often feels the guilt of being a working mum.

The 35-year-old mum-of-two, who is expecting another baby on June 4, said she recently had a glitzy red carpet experience that was tinged with feelings of guilt because she missed her flight home to her two sons.

Karen has two children - Finn (3) and JJ (22 months) - with her entrepreneur other half John Maguire, whom she married in 2013.

“Just very recently, the day before Christmas, I was sent off to the Star Wars premiere which on paper I know that’s amazing… Prince Harry and Prince William were there, it was in London… But it was freezing and I was standing on the red carpet three months pregnant, bursting to go to the toilet, and I ended up missing my flight.”

“So I was staying in an airport hotel in the same clothes on because I had no change of clothes, and I just had that pull of wanting to get home to my babies.”

In her documentary Mammy Guilt which airs tonight on TV3, Koster set out to research what the experts say about the effects full-time childcare can have on children.

“I wanted to make myself feel better about the choices I was making: Is it ok to work? Are my kids going to turn out ok? I had no experience of crèche before I sent my own little one there, and I was worried about, ‘am I going to raise sociopaths or are my kids going to be OK?’”

Karen interviews Professor Jay Belsky who in 1986 published the study Infant Daycare: A Cause for Concern? which suggested that babies who attend daycare show increased levels of aggression and disobedience later in life.

“I speak to an expert who has probably been accused of scaremongering, saying that babies should be at home with their mothers for first year. I spoke to another expert as well though who said it all evens out, there are more factors that come into it, other than just creche, like parental consistency, and the environment they grow up in, things like that.”

She added that this was an important point in the documentary for her.

“I didn’t want to bash creches, because I think that’s what’s often what’s discussed. I just wanted to show what it’s like when you’re working in a crèche in Cavan, what the girls there are experiencing. You see how much fun the children are having as well.”

“I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad. I hope mums feel good at the end of it.”

Koster met and spoke with many mothers for the documentary and realised that many Irish mothers make bigger sacrifices than herself.

“It’s not even the mums who have to work nine to five, there are other mums that have to live outside the home four or five days a week. You kind of go, other mums are making bigger sacrifices than me .There are women who have trained and spent loads of time on their education and they didn’t want to turn their backs on what they’d worked for.”

She added: “We find it hard to find a stay at home mum who’s exclusively a stay at home mum. My producer was amazing, she’d find all these women who were stay-at-home mums but they’d also have a blog, or they were doing a course to retrain, or they were writing a book. The takeaway for me is that they’d stay at home but they’d still have something for themselves.”

At one point in the interview, Karen becomes emotional when she’s dropped her two sons off at creche.

When she arrives back in the car, she says: “That was kind of a mixed drop-off. JJ cried but I think he’s just teething really, really badly, because he’s got his teeth stuck in his mouth. But Finn gave me a lovely little (kisses) ‘bye mama, love you’.”

“I’m gonna try not to cry, it gets me every time.”

But breaking down in tears, she says: “It doesn’t feel natural leaving a crying child. It goes against every grain... God I didn’t think I was going to get emotional, even thinking about it, but I guess I don’t actually try and think about it too much. It doesn’t feel natural, for someone you have nurtured from the second you see a positive pregnancy result.”

Karen told today: “The cameras come into my home, they see my kids, my husband. Obviously I’m in the public eye and I’ve done the odd photoshoot with them but I try not overshare. I try to be careful about that to a point."

"But I thought this was a conversation worth having and it was born out of a love for them. They look very cute in it as well," she laughed.

“I hope [people] just see the real me, where I’m mum number one, and then everything else is superfluous. I hope it hits a nerve and that it gets talked about.”

Mammy Guilt: True Lives airs on TV3 tonight, Wednesday 17th at 9pm

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