And it’s not because I’m a workaholic—I don’t work crazy hours or check my work email while on vacation. Sure, I enjoy what I do in the office, work hard, excel in my field and get along well with my coworkers, but seriously, if I won a gazillion dollars, I’d probably be outta there in a second (okay, maybe in two weeks). So while having a career is important for many moms, getting paid isn’t at the top of my fulfillment list.
Why then the lack of guilt when it comes to working instead of spending time with my toddler?
Because I’m doing the best I can. When I’m with my son, I consciously have my parenting cap on (most of the time). I look for opportunities for him to learn and thrive, whether it’s through reading books, making crafts or exploring our natural surroundings. I make sure he knows he’s loved and cared for, both when it’s easy and when more patience is called for. When I’m not with him, I’m reading parenting books, blogging about parenting, or talking to my husband about how we can improve as parents. Almost everything I do caters to the well-being of my son.
In short, I think I’m a damn good mom.
You may have your own ways of wearing your parenting cap that’s different from mine, but if you’re like most moms I know, we all bust our asses doing what’s best for our kids. (Wow, I just said “damn” and “asses” in one blog post! Apologies to my nine-year-old niece who reads this blog.)
Sometimes guilt is confused with desire: it’s okay that I want to be home with my toddler instead of sitting in an office. As difficult as it felt to return to work after maternity leave, there was still no reason to feel guilty. The desire to spend more time with my baby shouldn’t make me feel guilty because I can’t. Some families have the option for one parent to stay at home; others don’t. I wish I could see my toddler more often, but that would mean a significant pay decrease which wouldn’t be prudent for us at this moment.
I also heard from a few moms who feel guilty for working whenever they come home and realize that they still have to unload the dishwasher, clean the toilet and pay the bills. Especially when everything in the house was spotless before kids, adjusting to a kid-infested house could take some getting used to. But seriously, we have kids. Maybe even a bunch of them. My home is hardly going to look anything like how it used to look, and even less than what I see in magazines or catalogs. I love the fact that I can now pull out the “we have a kid” card whenever I realize I haven’t watered the plants in three weeks or that there are crayon marks on the table. Those are the marks of a family blessed with a kid, not of an incompetent mom.
Which brings me to my last point: we can’t do it all. We’re quite the conundrum—we’re supposed to be stay-at-home moms so our kids can spend time with us, but be working moms so they know women kick butt in the workforce too. We can’t miss out on any of our baby’s “firsts,” but we have to be the top performer in our department. We have to tend to our crying baby or fussy toddler even though the project is due in two hours. Too many expectations rest on our shoulders and we can’t bear every single one of them.
We’re moms—complete with flaws, ambitions, and the choices we make. So when that guilt starts creeping up again, pull out your “we have a kid” card and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
Do you feel guilty for being a working mom? How do you handle and appease this guilt? Is there anything you can change about your situation to alleviate the guilt?