| 7.2°C Dublin

Guilt of working mums is a stick to beat women – what about fathers?

WE didn't need a survey to tell us. We've actually been confessing about it to each other for some time.

On online forums and blogs mothers have been telling each other that they don't actually feel guilty about going to work. You see, you're meant to feel guilty.

According to other mothers, other women and the media if you work outside the home, you're so crippled by the guilt that you find it difficult to actually go about living your life.

You should be focusing on what you're apparently doing wrong.

It's one of those things that people tell you about before you have children. Along with the exhaustion, the expense, the love, "the guilt" is one of those subjects that comes up again and again.

But the fact is that some women simply don't feel it. Sure, they might feel a pang the day a toddler clamps onto their leg at the crèche door, or they might go through a few days of it, but many women by and large just don't feel guilty.

They admit to "running back to work" or they "go to work to get a break".

The Mumsnet survey says the Guilty Mammy is becoming an endangered species. So this stereotype of the time-poor, harassed mother, with a stained suit, rushing between boardrooms and the school gate is getting a little old. Turns out we're not characters from a 90s sitcom after all.

JARGON

The working mum jargon is getting old too. We don't feel nor want "to have it all", we are not "supermums", and can someone ask dads about how they manage the work/life juggle and achieve balance between the two? Or what do they do for "me time"?

It suits the media to trot out the Mammy Wars line, pitting the SAHM (stay at home mothers) against working women and stitching us all up in the process.

Even within the working mothers' group, there's a conflict between those who can afford to pay for childcare and can work for pleasure versus those who have no choice but to work because of their own economic situation.

There is however some truth in tales of working women being antagonised by cruel comments, such as "you'll never get that time back."

Is there a meaner phrase to hit a working mother with? We know we won't but why don't our husbands hear remarks like that? What is it about fathers that makes them immune from the way time works?

Along with love, the lack of guilt and the generalisations flung around about mothers, parents, children, breast feeding, bottle feeding – in short, just about every aspect of child-rearing – exasperation is one of the greatest emotions you'll feel as parent.

Exasperation at surveys that tell us what we knew all along. Exasperation that every week there's another survey to beat mothers over the head with.

"Guilty" working mothers are becoming rarer. Wouldn't it be nice if these surveys became extinct too?


Privacy