I am not sure if all working mums go through the same emotions when they return to work, but so far, all the mums I know relates well with this statement, "I feel so guilty..." followed by a heavy sigh of helplessness.
Motherhood is a major change in lifestyle, habits and routine. We have technically spent 9 months with our babies developing in us, with majority of our choices revolving around "Will this do my baby good?". Then after welcoming them into the world, with tears of joy (and pain) and taking care of them for their every need and whimper, our time is up and we have to return to work, reverting to the previous lifestyle (as when baby has not arrived yet) while leaving them in someone else's care.
All these changes from conception to birth to post-delivery takes about 1 year. It is not long, but it is not that short either! It is no surprise why some new mothers fall into depression.
And here are some instances from my own experience which I believe many working mums could relate to:
Waking up in a rush every morning, having to get dressed, makeup and leave home.
There is absolutely NO time to cuddle, play in the sheets, baby talk. At most, I can only entertain her while she is in the cot while I am line my eyes.
Witnessing her fall, even though she was just right in front of me.
This picture was taken right after she fell an hit her forehead on the floor.
Because they grow so quickly, I couldn't catch on to what she was capable of doing then and thought it would take some time before she could roll-over. But I was so wrong, she forced herself over the pillow just to come closer to me and fell!
My husband came into the room to find us both, crying.
Watching her play and witnessing milestones unlocked over the phone.
Via photos and videos
That's me trying to recreate a funny play moment with her after work.
I can't help but check my phone every now and then, waiting for a photo or a video to be sent in to see what she has been up to. If it was her "first" something (i.e. like first time she turned etc.) I will feel extremely guilty about not being there to see it, and hope she will repeat that action "live" again when I got home.
And after that, I feel guilty about not focusing at work.
Carrying her up from the car while she is already sound asleep and just watching her sleep.
While I am grateful for the fact that my mum is her main caregiver during weekdays and I have the bestest baby carer around with nothing to worry about;
Grateful that I still get to see her everyday (some parents only get to see their babies once a year or even less!);
Grateful that I get to spend 100% of my weekday night and weekends with her;
Grateful that I have a job that also means the ability to indulge more in terms of lifestyle;
All these gratefulness does't make me feel less guilty as the days pass by. They pass by so very quickly, especially since we are always rushing-
Rushing to get out of the house in the mornings so as to be on time for work;
Rushing to finish work so that there is no need to bring any "homework" back to do;
Rushing to get off work and go home to see baby... (where I looked forward to the only time of the day - in the night) where we could possibly spend time cuddling, baby talking and just enjoying the moment (but then, that time passes so quickly);
Then, rushing to pump milk, to finish up the unfinished/ never-ending household chores so that I can rush to bed and be recharged for the next day - where the cycle of rushing repeats itself, 5 days a week, every week.
And as if coping between work and baby isn't enough, these priorities co-exist with other important roles, where we working mums need to also time-share with things like expressing milk (multiple times per day), caring for aged parents and (at some point, hospital-proned, attention-needing) in-laws, mantaining some form of social life, last but not least, (and in fact, the most important, yet neglected) role of being a wife, lover and helpmeet to my husband.
Google, and tons of articles to deal with a working mum's guilt will surface, but such feelings and solutions are a matter of perspective and willingness to change one's mind.
Somewhere, someone, something's gotta give. It is a matter of when, who and what?