Until my children were 6 and 3 I worked full-time on a busy regional daily newspaper.
I dropped my son off at breakfast club and my daughter at nursery, then raced home at the end of the day hoping to snatch a few moments with them before the bedtime routine.
I felt incredibly guilty.
Six years ago I quit my job to work from home.
It was a Big Decision. I was in a job I adored, on a paper I loved, working with people who inspired and entertained me in equal measure.
But it meant I got to take my children to school every day.
No breakfast club at the crack of dawn.
No racing down the motorway to make sure I made it in time for nursery closing.
When my daughter started school I got to hold her hand every day without having to rearrange annual leave or beg someone else to help me out.
I watched school plays, rugby matches, visited class open days, hung out with other parents at netball tournaments.
We had years of warm, summer mornings strolling down the hill to school and cold, frosty walks back up the hill back home.
I still felt guilty.
While I was freelancing from home, our income dropped and was erratic, our savings got eaten up and I effectively waved goodbye to a great career.
But I was so very grateful and happy at being afforded the opportunity to do it.
Last year I went back to work. Another Big Decision.
It’s been really tough. Gone are the morning walks to school, the chats with other mums, the socialising at the school gate.
To be honest, not all of that is because I’ve gone back to work; my kids are older now and they don’t want me walking them to school, holding hands, holding bags, cramping their style!
So I went back to work primarily for me. Because, although I adored working from home, I was lonely and wanted to talk rubbish with someone else about my latest hairstyle, last night’s movie or our plans for the weekend.
I missed face to face interaction. I missed actual people.
I’ve now landed a job I love and once again have managed to find somewhere with inspiring, wonderful colleagues.
But you’ve guessed it, I feel guilty.
We have to rely heavily on the help of family, the dog misses me and the end of the day is a mad rush as I try to fit in the Mum Taxi, homework, after school activities, washing and friends over for tea.
Here’s the thing; it never ever gets any easier. Any of it.
Whatever you do, whatever your circumstances, whatever you choose to do, you will always feel Mother’s Guilt.
It will sit heavily on your shoulders, weighing you down, making you question yourself, making you feel like you’ve always got something to answer to or something to prove.
I love being a mum. I also love working.
However, it feels like if I try to combine both of these things I’ve always got a little voice in my head telling me that I’m not doing either of them to the best of my ability.
And I really really hate that.
I know mother’s guilt is a pretty universal thing – no matter what you have, how much money, what career, how big your house is, you will always feel that painful sting of parental guilt, whether you’re a mother or a father.
But how do you deal with it? Does anyone think they have the balance right?