Maternal Guilt

Laura Abba

Written by Laura

Laura Abba, founder of Mind the Mother, is a Cognitive Hypnotherapist & Maternal Coach. Based in the UK and working with people from around the World; she offers a tailored approach to individual needs to help people, feel supported in their journey through motherhood.

After having my 2nd baby, I went back to my full-time job after maternity leave. And just after a month of being back to my original position as a manager, I encountered a period where it was pressure-charged. It was not really about tight deadlines, but more about the severity of the cases in my hands. As I am buried deep into one of these cases; my eldest became ill. Nothing too serious, but she started to have a high temperature. And you know how it is: they are fine during the day, come the afternoon and boom the high temperature arrives. Knowing this, and with busy weeks ahead, my partner helped out with looking after our daughter, because I couldn’t take time off at the time.

It is Monday, and dad stayed with her; Tuesday she was better and we sent her to nursery (with Calpol just in case). The dreaded call comes just as I am on my way to home from work (thankfully!), it was nursery saying she is having high temperatures. There I go to pick her up as quick as possible to try to get her comfy and work on getting the temperature down. My partner comes, and it is bedtime. Afterwards, is when the discussion starts, she couldn’t go to nursery. I couldn’t take the time off work, my partner was also tied at work. Still, he took the hit again, and I went to work.

Again, the same story, she is doing better, so the next day she would go to nursery. But I thought only for half-day, and I would take my time back to treat her and give her all the cuddles. So, dropped them in the nursery, ran to the office, did as much as I could possibly do in a few hours and went back to pick her up. It was lunchtime, so I thought we could go for a pizza treat. When I picked her up she started to cry (tantrum style), because she didn’t want pizza or anything else I could offer, she just wanted to have the rice with the stew that they were having at nursery. Off I go on such a grim day, back home, waiting to get a call back to pick her up (I was told that most likely after lunch she would just want me back). And so that happened, got the call, went to pick her up. And we had a lovely afternoon full of cuddles.

The importance of this brief and regular story, that I am sure many other parents have experienced, is about the guilt when you have times at work with tension, at the same time when you want to look after your ill kid. In my experience, this happens to most working mothers when they have an ill child. It is the guilt for letting one of the parts down; both hurt and the compromise is the one you never want to do.

The guilt I felt because I could not be in 2 places at the same time. In my head, I compensated the choose to work over my ill daughter to, later on, take her on a special mum/daughter date that she did not want at the time.

Was my decision right? Wrong? Should I felt like I did? That it is irrelevant. What it matters and the lesson to learn is to understand that in a family you have a team, and just because for a moment you choose as you want to (and that’s key, as you want and not as what you must), then the guilt wouldn’t have a place. Because you are making a conscious decision. In my case, I wanted to be with my daughter and it felt like I must go to work. So didn’t choose what I wanted and that is what triggered my guilt, and know that I have forgiven myself, and just promise to do more are I wished to eliminate any guilt from my life.

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