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I understand, Nicola Roxon

sourced from google images/ thechrancyfamily.com

sourced from google images/ thechrancyfamily.com

On the weekend just gone, our first ever female PM announced the resignation of our first ever female Attorney-General.

Resignation not just from her demanding cabinet position, but from her career as a parliamentarian.

The timing of the resignation, just days after a surprise election announcement, has meant the reasons for the resignation were questioned.

But the stated reason, that Ms Roxon wishes to spend more time with her family and in particular, her 7-year-old daughter Rebecca, seems eminently reasonable and understandable.

Certainly for any working mother who has ever experienced mother guilt (which I venture to suggest, would be most working mothers at some point) there is probably a sigh of recognition. Especially when Ms Roxon laments missing out on her daughter growing up, should she stand for re-election on September 14.

Nicola Roxon and family sourced from theage.com.au

Nicola Roxon and family sourced from theage.com.au

This morning I dropped my son off at his school. Today is day two of a new year, and he is finally the big fish in the little pond. He is a Grade 6’er, with all the responsibilities and freedoms that entails.

As I walked away from the classroom, I felt a pull on my heart-strings. I wondered if it was because this is the last year I will be walking through the gates of our beloved primary school.

Then I remembered I have had this feeling on many  occasions over the years, and I came to realise it is not really about this being ‘our’ last year.

No, this feeling is all about the sadness and guilt I feel as I leave my children at school and go off to work. The feeling lurking somewhere deep inside me, that this is not really what I ought to be doing.

What I feel I ought to be doing is what I see ‘all the other mothers’ doing. Hanging around and chatting to each other, building up relationships that benefit themselves and their offspring.

Or being more involved in the school and classroom activities. Maybe joining the Parents Association.

At the very least, I probably should have volunteered to be the class rep at least once in the nine years I have had a child attend the school.

Yet I have always worked. Which, for me, meant either dropping the kids off at school and running to work, or on my precious ‘days off’, running around like a “headless chook” (quote courtesy of my octogenarian mum).

sourced from googleimages / girlillawarfare.com

sourced from googleimages / girlillawarfare.com

Until I took a year off in 2010 to return to University, I had always shared their care with paid helpers.

Over the years we employed a combination of child care centre, always-knew-better-than-us-nanny (a post for a different day), after school care and after-school-uni-student-babysitters-come-taxis. Including one memorable term with German back-packing Fabian, our ‘manny’, who was very popular with the other mothers at school. Such a shame he decided to continue his travels throughout Australia instead of staying with us.

Whilst I appreciated and relied on these assorted carers, I always resented them. I was particularly jealous of the uni kids  that took my children to their afternoon activities, and were the ones cheering them on from the basketball court sidelines instead of me.

My Uni timetable in 2010 allowed me, for the first time ever, to be home in time to pick the kids up every day from school. I do not exaggerate when I say the kids thrived with having me home with them in the afternoons. If I had any doubts, they would continually tell me how much they loved having me around.

And conversely, if I spoke about looking for full-time work, they would dissolve into a flood of tears.

Of course there are days when I wonder why I want to pick them up from school at all. Those are the days when my child is abducted by aliens, and replaced by a grumpy monster who does nothing but whine and complain. And fight with their sibling, me, or both.

Worn out from whinging. At least they are quiet.

Worn out from whining. At least they are quiet.

The problem is that now I have seen the benefit of being around for the children in the afternoon, I feel even more guilty when I cannot be there due to work. Yes, I realise I have a teenager and a tween. But the years do not seem to diminish their need for me, if anything, it has increased.

At this stage in my career, I would love to be able to work full-time. To have a real crack at the career I have dreamt of.

But the mother guilt always pulls me back.

So I say to Ms Roxon on her resignation from her 24/7 job due to the pull of her  family responsibilities – I hear you sister.

Non-alcoholic* cheers till next time,

Ali.

*It’s FebFast time of year again and this time I will make it the full 28 days.

NOTE: This blog post is about my feelings of mother guilt –  constantly trying to juggle work and home and never quite feeling like I get either side right. This post is certainly not a comment either about stay-at-home mothers, or mothers who work (full-time or part-time). I only hope that every mother gets the chance to do what is right for them, and their family.

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