I was recently involved in the production of a play Vera (huge shout out to everyone who came to watch the show), and this meant getting home past 8.00 pm when boo boo is asleep and also being away from her over the weekends.
I love acting, it was my first love but was replaced by boo boo. I had to battle the guilty feeling of being away from her. I felt like I was missing out on her life and missing out on milestones and feeling really bad about it. Now I know to most people this is crazy, but trust me it happens. You tend to get caught between wanting to spend all the time with your baby and pursuing your passion or even just going to work. You feel like you need to give up a part of you so that you can spend time with your baby.
The guilty feeling will be amplified by other people around you, whether well meaning or not, I’m yet to figure it out.
They will ask all manner of questions, “You leave your baby at home every single day?” In my head, I’m like “Yup but it’s cause I’m going to work.” or “You’re sure she won’t forget you?” (babies aren’t as dumb as we’d like to imagine) or even “I can’t imagine leaving my baby every day.” Yet the ones who say the last statement don’t have a motherly bone in them and no I’m not leaving her, we see each other at the end of the day.
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I soon came to realise that I was not being realistic in feeling guilty and wanting to quit halfway through the production.
I needed to go to work, I needed to be involved in the play and I needed to have some alone time and not feel guilty that I was leaving my boo boo. She has a very competent person, who loves her taking care of her when I am not around so there’s no need for me to feel guilty. She also gets used to the idea that Mum will not always be around. I get to cherish every minute I spend with her, whether she’s attempting to bite me or wear my glasses and failing miserably at it. We both enjoy every minute spent together
So let’s cut women some slack when it comes to them balancing either work, school and family.
As Chimamanda said in her speech at Wellesley College, “And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.”
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