After coming in to wake me several times during the night, my 4-year-old baby girl stood in front of me, tears rolling down her face. My suitcase lay open on my bed, and she was watching me as I packed for another interstate work trip. It was true, I had been away a lot recently, writes Prue Gilbert.
As I looked at her, I felt a familiar pang in the pit of my stomach. Ridden with mother’s guilt, I promised my daughter I would visit her at kinder and bring in a special morning tea for us to enjoy together before I headed off. I mentally added it to my ‘to-do’ list: I also had my classroom helper duties for my preppie and a number of work calls to make before my dash to the airport by 11.20 that morning. I’d really be pushing it!
Staying true to my principles
Once I’d boarded the plane and settled into my seat, the journey gave me time to reflect back on my moment of mother’s guilt. What was it all about? What would I have done differently if I were to do it again? In the course of my reflection, I returned to my two key principles:
- My values
- My professional vision
My values are my priority and underpin everything I want to achieve: family, equality and mature love.
Each of these is also interwoven into my professional vision: to drive social and economic independence for women by making it easier to establish a longterm attachment to the workplace.
In turn, my work must be flexible enough to also prioritise the needs of my husband, children and parents, ensuring they each know how much I love them.
Reflecting on guilt
Thinking back to the morning’s events, I reflected how Mary-Jane had happily left for kinder, excited that I would be visiting a little later that day. And Little Fitzy had been so happy that I was class helper that he shuffled across the room on his bottom, just to rest his head against my knee.
I had planned plenty of fun activities for the coming days too: that Friday, I’d taken the day off work and was taking the children to the Zoo, and on Saturday morning we were having brunch with my parents.
Meanwhile, my visit interstate was to Sydney, to pitch Grace Papers’ digital platform to some big audiences who shared our passion to empower more mothers to stay true to their values and achieve economic freedom.
I often say that guilt is nothing more than an attack of the conscience. After taking a step back and checking in with it, I felt nothing but grateful that when it came to my values and my professional vision, I was able to not only ‘do it all’ but build a better world for my children as I did it.