You’re a mum with a full-time job? But, what about the bond with your baby?
About five weeks ago, Jenna secured a new role at work and I couldn’t be happier for her. I know how much she wanted it, having heard about it every day for as long as I can remember.
In seriousness though, the promotion is excellent news and so very deserved. It’s officially been exactly one year since she went back to work from maternity leave. We’d become homeowners, I got a new job closer to home to avoid the London commute, Roma had just started nursery and Jenna was returning back to her job after eight months off. Fast-forward 12 months and here we are.
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At a time when people are flogging fat-burning lollipops and any old supposedly healthy crap on the web to make a quick buck, @jennashilstfit’s passion for exercise remains true. Just the other night, she told me how a workout is like therapy that helps clear her head, having busted a gut jumping around the front room. There was no camera rolling or a payday for saying that, it was just facts. With that logic, whether she’s training herself or clients, it’s not just about feeling good physically but also keeping mentally tuned. With such pure adoration for what she does, it’s no surprise to me that she’s been named the new #BlazeTribe supervisor for @davidlloydchigwellofficial! Congratulations chieftess, you’re smashing it as I knew you would #DADultLife #WCW #FamilyManFit #ProudPartner
Having completed her keeping in touch days last February/March, she didn’t dive back in doing 40 hours a week, it was a gradual process – one that was necessary as she adjusted to getting back to working life. While I was thrown back into the office after a paltry two weeks – not bitter at all – Jenna had far more time to spend with Roma than I ever did. I, and plenty of other dads, have simply accepted that’s just the way it is. Shared parental leave is flawed and doesn’t work for everyone, so for us that wasn’t an option.
Still, nobody ever questioned what my bond with Roma was like or how I coped being back at work full-time. So why is it that this question has been thrust upon Jenna? Because she’s a woman? Are women not supposed to work in this day and age? I’m getting ahead of myself a bit here, so allow me to set the scene.
A couple of weeks ago, when little lady had been put to sleep, Jenna and I were sat on the sofa replaying our day. It just so happens I’d worked from home that day and Jenna was at the gym. As such conversations arise, she was asked by someone about Roma and the conversation took a bizarre turn.
Customer: Where’s your daughter today?
Jenna: She’s at home with her dad – he’s working from home.
Customer: Oh. You’re working here a lot aren’t you? Doing a lot of hours?
Jenna: Yeah, I guess.
Customer: What about the bond with your baby?
The woman putting Jenna on blast proceeded to regale her with a tale about her own fractured relationship with her mother who apparently returned to work after three months and, as such, they have no relationship today.
I call BS on that. If a parent returned to work after three months, the baby would have no idea. I know many dads who had two weeks off – sometimes less – who have bonded perfectly well with their children. Three months by comparison would feel like a godsend to us. So whatever broken-down rift is taking place there seems to be an entirely separate issue. And why it’s being made Jenna’s issue I don’t know.
But this grilling that was thrust upon her also presents another question. What is she supposed to be doing? Should she be expected to stay at home simply because she’s a mother? Hell no. If a mother wants to work, why shouldn’t she? Aside from it being the 21st century, a time when gender in the workplace shouldn’t even come into the equation, is there a magical money tree growing somewhere we don’t know about? If she was working before having a baby and a mortgage, why would a career suddenly be packed up when life has become dearer than ever?
The woman responsible for the enquiry is living in fantasy land. Who is she to start questioning the connection Jenna has to our daughter? And to do as much so shamelessly too. She even repeated the same nonsense about a bond the week after.
So let me tell you about the bond. She carried our daughter for nine months, gave birth to her and has loved her every day since and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Is that a good enough start?
As you can tell, the situation has rattled me more than just a bit because it bothered Jenna so much. I was curious though. Is this an isolated incident or normal behaviour? I threw the question out there and had some phenomenal responses provided back to me, demonstrating what mothers with jobs often have to put up with.
I hear it all the time – people can’t believe that Mason goes full-time nursery. They don’t understand that the bills can’t pay themselves. Not all of us are lucky enough to be showered in benefits. This topic makes me so angry!
My thoughts are: I’ve worked 35 hours a week with Ciara and now I’m not working at all and I can honestly say sometimes when I was working our bond was better. She looked forward to seeing me and I her, and I didn’t get so frustrated with the small stuff. I think we live a world nowadays where most of the time working class mothers need to work in order to provide for our families. However, for me, work was always my thing, something for just me that made me more than just a mum and it was amazing! I held onto it and got a promotion when Ciara was just ten months old. If it wasn’t for my illness and my mum’s accident, I’d be working full-time now. I mean, I love the school runs and I’m a huge advocate for flexible working so I’d want flexibility too but I feel like it’s important to keep an identity and work helps us do that – mums and dads! Also people are ignorant bigoted cunts and should just mind their own business.
I’m a working mum and get sly comments a lot. It’s each to their own. As much as I would love to spend more time with my one-year-old daughter, it’s also very important for me to reach career goals to ensure she had the life I never did and also teach her valuable lessons. I’ve heard things like “She will be more familiar with the nursery staff than you” and “No amount of money is worth not having time with the kids” etc. Recently I got a new job that I’m really pleased about and the amount of people asking me if it’s part-time is funny especially as I have never worked part-time! We just make the weekends and evenings count.
This winds me right up. I’m not a mum but I know how frustrated Alison gets when people make comments to her like, “How do you have time to spend with your kids when you also work?”
I work two jobs and go to college. I’ve always worked full-time. The bond with my boys is amazing, they’re my best friends as I am theirs. The way I see it is: People will criticise if you do and they’ll criticise if you don’t. There will always be judgey people. You can’t make everyone happy. There’s only three people that matter and if you three are happy, sod anyone’s negative opinions on your lives ❤️
The next respondent felt the urge to take a shot at me, apparently missing the purpose of what I was looking to accomplish…
Have you ever been asked this question? I doubt it And why don’t we refer to dads with jobs as “working dads” just working moms. The mom guilt is real. I was in the hospital this past week and I got asked a few times who had my kids “Umm, they have dads.” I got asked that when I went out DURING THE DAY on St Patrick’s Day – “Oh I thought your kids would be with you! Where are they?!” These were women asking me this too. Childless women. But still. THEY HAVE DADS!!!!
Oh God, where do I start! Personally I’ve found it harder to return to work after baby number two purely because I had 15 months off and a banging social life this time round. But the comments are constant from every angle – family, friends, baby groups, strangers in the street when I’m dressed for work with my kids, the lot. It appears I’ve naturally surrounded myself with mums in a similar situation to mine so that helps but I feel constant guilt and pressure which ends up with me being exhausted! My fave ever comment was being taken to one side at a baby group who were planning a Halloween party. Cue hushed voices and “We’ve decided the costumes our children wear to the party must be handmade this year to add an edge and so we don’t end up with 150 pumpkin costumes for the local paper, we know you work so we’re letting all the working mums know early to give you fair notice so you don’t let your children down. It’s not really fair that they should miss our just because you work.”
Family are the worst – “In my day I stayed at home to make sure you all had our values rather than a strangers.”
“You probably won’t even miss the kids, you love working.”
Erm, actually we’ve got to eat, we’ve just bought a house and that needs paying for and my children get a really varied group of friends, experiences and social skills that I wouldn’t be able to give them.
Don’t even get me started on “full-time mummy” comments. I’m a full-time mum too, I’ve just got a full-time job on top!
These same “full-time mums” who make the comments are also the ones that put their kids in nursery two days a week to have some “me time”.
Jenna is doing an amazing job! She gives me inspiration every single day and is clearly adored by you and Roma. She’s smashing it and Roma will grow up seeing a strong, passionate, talented woman as a role model.
Sometimes my son will ask “Why do you / Daddy have to go to work?” But I explain that we have to work so we can all have nice things and nice food and nice toys” he understands that age 3 and I don’t think that’s a bad thing!
I’ve got two under two. I work full-time 36 hours a week, getting up at 5am every morning. And now I’ve broken my foot. You’ve just gotta get on sometimes. Those people who are lucky enough to afford to stay at home with their babies have no idea.
Thank you to everyone for sharing their experiences. In summary: If you’re not going to provide any support or constructive commentary then, quite simply, STFU!
To the ladies, Happy Mother’s Day! To the fellas, keep backing your women.
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SURPRISE Training together is basically a myth, so we generally do our own thing. But occasionally the stars align and today was one of those days. With Sleeping Beauty up earlier than usual, we were able to make it along to surprise and send off @jennashilstfit ahead of her final Saturday morning #BlazeTribe class before she moves on to run the @davidlloydchigwellofficial studio. Romes got a chance to mingle with other ankle-biters in the creche for an hour, while I was able to get a serious sweat on courtesy of the new chieftess on the block, during which I burnt enough calories to make way for all of the snacks this evening — morning well spent if you ask me ⚡ #DADultLife #FamilyManFit #HisAndHers #PerfectlyBlended