When I was at university, I stumbled home one Sunday morning with bags under my eyes and spilled cider and black down my (cream) top after a heavy night ended by crashing on my gay best friend’s sofa. It was my first “walk of shame” – a journey largely spent with my head down low rooted in paranoia that everyone was talking about me.
Nearly 15 years later (!), why do I get that same feeling in the pit of my stomach when walking TJ to nursery?
It was first morning back to the routine after the Christmas break. After cleaning up from a poonami and wrestling a planking toddler into the pram, we were out of the front door before the sunrise.
Our walk to the nursery is down a busy main road and it was then that I felt like every driver was looking at me and judging my decision for getting a baby out of the house so early in the freezing temperatures.
With an 8am train to catch, I have no option but to bundle TJ up in every warm layer in his wardrobe and pray he keeps his hat and mittens on for the majority of the journey. But, I still feel like a bad person for doing it.
I am proud to be a working parent. The balance and perspective it brings to my life is worth more than my pay cheque. Of course, it is also more than likely that all of those drivers had much more on their minds than just another girl in a bobble hat. Like, you know, their own lives.
Is it just me? If so, what has brought me to feeling ashamed about my parenting life choices?
TJ loves nursery and he is (usually) more than happy to spend the day with his wonderful carers and tiny playmates. Even if I was rich enough not to work, I would still send him to nursery for all the positive developmental reasons he benefits from, which I don’t think he can get from just hanging out with me.
TJ’s dad is also more than supportive of me going out to work, for reasons more than just my monthly contribution to the joint account.
Therefore, I blame society – and myself – for feeling this way. Maybe it’s something in the traditional yet outdated view of the British family where many a mum doesn’t spend eight hours a day in an office. Maybe it’s my own feelings of guilt for paying someone to keep my offspring fed and watered while I enjoy some time with grown-ups. Whatever it is, I hope it will go as we get back into the swing of things for 2017.
An improvement in the weather will also mean there’s less frozen puddles for me to dodge with the pram as well.
Until then, I will remind myself to be proud that I can pick up the tab for TJ’s new toys.