Mum guilt we all feel it, it seems to come along brutally as part of motherhood, a phrase that before I had my little boy I would roll my eyes at but it's very much real and next to impossible to get rid of.
Becoming a mum life becomes a huge jigsaw puzzle trying to slot the pieces back together, trying to place everything back exactly were it was but with a child in tow and when you have a chronic condition that throws obstacles and difficulties from every angle and makes that puzzle even harder. Since I had my little boy Kian a huge piece that I had wanted to place for so long was going back to work.
Now I realise how selfish that sounds, I would rather work than be with him, but here's the thing, kian's the most important thing in my life but that didn't mean he had to be the only important thing.
I had so many opportunities to say screw it, my hearts knackered, life's so unfair,every opportunity to give up, my health set me back constantly all that ever came out of trying to work again was that white piece of paper ticked unfit for work and in the passed going back to work didn't last long because my health would just go straight downhill and it became harder each time to go back, the anxiety of another setback became unbearable , but the tears that flowed every time I left the doctors were painful because the truth is work was a huge part of my life before I got sick and an even bigger part of my life before I became a mum, I was also stuck with, how could I set a good example to Kian if I let my problems win, the only example it sets instead is how easy it is to give up, things that are important aren't worth fighting for, and working is such an important factor to me.
Going back to work when Kian was 18 months old felt like the last piece, after months of setbacks , I finally felt like my life was complete again, I'm far from supernanny but I had work and looking after a toddler going smoothly and my health being the best its ever been since my heart problems started my jigsaw puzzle was complete.....Except being selfish wasn't anywhere to be seen in that complete jigsaw puzzle.
The thing is returning back to work only made me even more less selfish, Your forced to work have the house tidy, dinner on the table putting everyone and everything before yourself, you ask how everyone else's day has been but nobody ever bothers to ask how your crap day has went.
Even when your unwell as a mum, what does mum do when she's sick, or should I say what doesn't she do ? of course she doesn't put herself first, being a mum its like your automatically programed not to be selfish all the time.
The sad thing is, I realised I had lost my inner self, I was too busy focusing on getting my health back. so I could work, to busy trying to balance motherhood and work To busy trying to do the mum role perfectly that I got so lost with trying to be a good mum that I wasn't a good wife or friend I wasn't a good me.
When my husband said to me one Friday night as I reached for the tea cup instead of the wine glass that I was so boring, I actually felt this huge weight of sadness wash over me, I felt sad and guilty that I had lost the fun bubbly me, the person who was the first and last to leave a party now turned down every invite to instead sit with knitting needles and a cuppa, but the thing was deep down I knew she was still there, underneath the yogurt stained T-Shirt, the weeks unwashed hair pinned back, the handbag full of dummies and toy cars she was, the same girl who still dances stupidly around the living room to Steps still done that at most opportunities.
All mums do feel guilt but having an illness that guilt is amplified ten times more and being a working mum that guilt is amplified hundred times more so when you have an illness and go to work that guilt eats you alive.
You feel guilty for being a shouty mum, guilty for being unwell, , guilty for hiding your head in the fridge to eat, guilty for wishing you could go back to work and have a hot cuppa and some adult chat, but the thing is now I feel guilty that I'm not a stay at home mum, you always find something no matter how big or small it is to feel guilty about.
'I need a break', were the words I held back for so long, I feared being judged. Working mums get a break, we get the best of both worlds right? , but that couldn't be more further from the truth.
As a working mum, it's no fun leaving them for most of the day, its no fun coming home and seeing them peacefully asleep knowing you missed a whole day of their precious little life's, others hearing words and seeing precious milestones and moments. It's also no fun the tears you shed when you walk out the door, you spent most of your day clock watching, as the saying goes a watched kettle never boils, that's how your day is, But here's the thing going to work isn't a personal break, your not going to work for some time out, and when you finish you don't actually clock off, you've just finished one thing that's expected of you, and coming home you've used ever single ounce of energy that's left that you become that shouty tiered mum who's no fun and then you feel guilty for making work be an important part in your life.
When I say those words 'I need a break' it didn't mean I wanted to put my feet up, or go out for a drink, It didn't mean I wanted to kick back with Netflix and the Game of Thrones box set, it didn't mean I wanted to step back from my responsibility's , it means I wanted to take a moment to feel human again, In days and weeks that are all mould into one, putting everything before yourself you just want a moment to be selfish, when your burning the candle at all ends, trying to do everything ,you just become exhausted from trying to do everything right except you feel like your doing none of the jobs perfectly.
When I do 'get a break' I don't use it for fun, I don't use it to even hit the gym or go shopping, I don't need a break to unwind, have a party being me on my own instead I find myself lying in a quiet room or I go for a bath but the thing is I sit with my own thoughts were I switch off for a few seconds, without something being expected or wanted from me.
I do the one thing that I need to do, to work and keep up with the never ending needs of my beautiful Kian, two important things in my life, being a stay at home mum would be easier, I wouldn't risk setbacks, I wouldn't worry constantly if my hearts going to play up, I wouldn't live in fear of having sick days and I wouldn't have so much guilt for leaving him to go to work but that would be giving up a huge part of me that makes me who I am, I worked before being a mum and I worked long before I got sick and I'm more than just a mum, my breaks allow me to recharge those battery's that are on energy saving mode a lot because of my heart.
I put absolutely all the fuel I have stored in the tank into being a good mum and working from the minute I opened my eyes in the morning till I close them at night there isn't a single second I'm alone with my own thoughts, Where I'm not been needed and were demands are expected of me, not at work, in the shower, or even in the toilet.
When I say 'I need a break' it's because sometimes you just need a moment to be yourself, to remember who you are, a moment to stop and catch a breath to make a choice for yourself, we need a moment to feel like we still exist as a person, who doesn't just go by the name mum. Because you can't love others when you don't love yourself and to love yourself you sometimes just need a moment to remember who you are.