My Struggle with Working Mom Guilt

This entry for me is a bit of a change. I try to use my own experiences to contribute to anyone trying to find a smidge of an answer to their dilemma through my writing. I am {and always will be} a proud advocate of the unofficial Sisterhood of Motherhood. However, there isn’t any advice sneaking through the lines this time, just the narrative of a full-time working mother that can not shake the guilt of having a corporate career life {or any life}. I don’t really know if this is all working but you’re welcome to give it a go. I still have the pains of guilt when I walk out the doors after drop off or when my son is the last kid picked up that day. I’ve heard from other moms that, “If you’re trying, your son will be okay”. I’ll run with that. 

Mom Guilt and Different Shades of Grass

Before becoming a mom, I will admit embarrassingly my disdain for stay at home moms. I was naive and I was selfish. I regrettably always thought to myself…why would anyone leave their career to raise babies? I will tell you now that this perspective has changed immensely. Raising a child is one of the hardest and most stressful jobs anyone can have. I say that whole heartedly as a mother who gets to drop off her child every morning, Monday through Friday. I still think it’s very hard. 

I go through the struggle of asking myself {and my husband many times} if we should downsize so I can stay at home with my son. I constantly worry that my need to continue my career is hurting him indirectly. That somehow he will develop unnamed personality issues that have not yet been discovered. Being away from him is very hard…but being with him every day is also very hard. The proverbial mom guilt grass is greener on both sides, just different shades of it. To my SAHM friends, I envy and respect your strength. 

The Comforts of a Cubicle

For many years, I never had photos in my workplace area. I had a mousepad of my my dogs and that was pretty much it. My photos were in my phone and if I missed my husband, I would just text him. Easy-Peasy. Once the baby was born, his role as ‘husband + father’ sat differently in my heart. They now both occupied a heavier and more centralized position, together. Having their photos in my cubicle has added a new warmth to my office life even if it is hard to be away from them. 

Moments in between answering emails when I can glance over and see his 2-month old face then his 11-month face all in one fast swipe beats the timely digging through purse, getting phone, unlocking phone, etc…you get it. There isn’t enough time in the day! Plus, thanks to apps like Shutterfly, Free Prints, CVS photos, and other affordable printing services, I can make decor the rest of my cubicle life….and then some! 

That Lady Squatting and Taking Photos

“Raymond…CHEESE!…Cheese, Raymond!” Since I only have a small amount of evening after pick-up on weekdays, I make the most of my weekends with my son by documenting everything. You know me. I’m the mom with the phone in her child’s face squatting to be eye level trying to capture every blink without shame. I have pictures from the first time at the grocery store, the first time {and many times after that} at the splash pad, and most recently, the first time at a donut-themed dual birthday party. For a small monthly fee, all my weekend memories can be crammed into a ‘cloud’. So why not go picture/video happy? It is incredible that I can’t remember the same lasagna recipe {compiled by items entirely from the frozen aisle} I’ve used the last four years, but I can vividly remember the moments before and after a picture was taken of my son. If they’re bad, delete them later {obviously the pics, not your kid}. So if you can take anything away today…remember to document every smile, every laugh, every tantrum, every messy face…and do it with no shame. 

The Back Burner is No Place For You

I-N-D-E-P-E…okay you get it, I’m trying to spell independent. My entire life, I was led to believe that if I wasn’t this…then I was nothing. I have found that its quite the contrary. I depend on my son’s love to get me through the toughest days. I depend on my husband for emotional strength when I fall into pits of mom guilt anguish trying to decide which sippy cup is right after {what feels like} 50 hours of research. 

It’s hard to run away from an essential part of who you are and definitely should not. This is probably the hardest part of the guilt struggle. I keep thinking to myself…I can put off graduate school a few more years…I can put this or that off a few more years which leads to, but i want another baby so when can I? As much as I want to look up swaddles, research toddler water shoes, or buy him organic pjs all night, being on the back burner is not a fun place to be for me or for you.

Good Night Mom Guilt…and Sweet Dreams

When I go through my dips of mom guilt, I have to remind myself…he is clean, safe, fed, and most importantly, so loved. With those ingredients, he will be okay even if I don’t have the privilege of being by his side every day for the first five years of life. I try to make up for it through dinner and bedtime. Cuddle time while we read books or letting go a bit more for some extra splashes in the tub helps a lot. 

We hug, we kiss good night, and we go to bed. YES, go to bed! My lack of sleep intensified my guilt as I realized it got later and later while I scroll through countless pages of the ‘right’ bath toys or the obsess over the fact that I didn’t spend the full three months being with him post partum. 

The best remedy for a full time working mom guilt or any mom at that? SLEEP.

Goodnight. Go to sleep!


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