Can a working mother be as good at her job after maternity leave?


As soon as I walked into my daughter’s bedroom I knew she was ill. Rosie’s forehead was clammy and her little body listless. Instinct told me she should stay at home. And yet in two hours I was due to interview an actress. As a freelance journalist whose reputation depends on reliability, I couldn’t cancel.

So I soothed Rosie’s brow and swiftly deposited her at nursery before her child minders realised she shouldn’t be there. With a knot of anxiety in my stomach, I rushed to the interview – only to realise, with two minutes to spare, that I was at the wrong studio, on the wrong side of London. The actress had to wait 30 minutes for me to arrive. Luckily she was a mother too, so more understanding than most. But as we finally spoke – my distraction so palpable that I pronounced her name wrongly – my mobile vibrated incessantly in my handbag. I didn’t have to look to know it was Rosie’s nursery calling.

Later that morning, as I cradled my feverish daughter in my arms, I sobbed tears of self-loathing – for being a negligent mother who put her career before her child, yes, but also for failing at my career.

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