It churns away in the background, much like the quiet hum of a running motor.
Child Number Two tried to kiss his own knee better in the park.
Child Number One watched dolefully from the window one evening as I drove off to the delights of a draughty football press box on a windy, autumn evening.
It is a question of balance. Pay the bills, put food on the table.
Yet the pressure seems to be greater than ever before.
Like most others who leave the nursery for the office, work can be a chance to rediscover the adult within, to finish a sentence, to enjoy hot coffee, to feel an intellectual stimulation.
But for this crop of working mothers who have been weaned on the advice that you can have it all and still find time for yourself, the juggling act seems to be all-consuming in a way that it hasn't been for previous generations.
For all but the fortunate few, work is not a choice but rather a necessity.
And reports of child development studies always tend to generate an involuntary stomach-churning twist.
Penelope Leach, the renowned authority on child development, recently re-ignited the controlled crying debate when she offered the view that leaving your baby to cry at night risked flooding the developing brain with a stress hormone known as cortisol and could lead to your child always holding onto some of that anxiety.
Despite those kind of messages, getting babies into such strict routines at night has never been more in vogue. The large percentage of mothers who know that when the clock chimes on their maternity leave that they need to head back to work surely influences many decisions taken on how to rear their young.
Research has shown that the first three years of life set you up for every other one that comes.
It hard-wires the responses to stress, to excitement, to challenges and to social skills. Having that knowledge can make it hard to hand over your infant to the care of another as you walk out the door.
Yet, it seems odd that, given how critical early years are, those who work with pre-school children in our society are generally the lowest paid and their skills rarely held in any great esteem.
It would be nice to think that if this generation of women can teach anything to the next, it will be about balance.
About holding your own in the office while also finding time to get down and dirty in the mud before the call of the school gates comes around.
But don't hold your breath - since the magic answer has rarely seemed so far away.