It is Thursday and I am sitting on a plane headed home from a work trip as I type this post. I’ve been gone since Tuesday and I’m so anxious to see my family. The morning before I left, Jake sat in the bathroom with me while I got ready and told me how much he was going to “miss all the cuddling that we do” and that he would “make sure Daddy didn’t get Ryanne’s ears pierced while I was gone!” (Matt was totally joking about it a few days earlier when I said she wasn’t allowed to get her ears pierced until she was at least 5 .. she’s only 1-1/2 now!). So sweet but made me miss him terribly before I even left! When I called home Tuesday night, I found out that Ryanne was running a slight fever and was sent home early from daycare … and had to remain out on Wednesday. Matt had a big meeting on Wednesday he would have to miss. While there was absolutely nothing I could do about it, the guilt of being gone immediately set in. Matt, of course, was super supportive and laughed it off as Murphy’s Law.
I’ve been a working mom since my son was only 3 months old. While it has constantly been a balancing act (as so many things we moms juggle are), I’ve never regretted my choice to work full time and raise a family. But lately, I have been struggling more and more with finding the right balance. I think a lot of it started when Jake started Kindergarten this fall. Because of his school hours, he has to go to the Before and After School programs. For the first time, he felt “different” than his friends. “Mommy, why can’t I be a bus rider or car rider like all of my friends? Why do I have to stay and go to After School?” It absolutely broke my heart to have to say “because mommy has to work.”
Now – I know what many of you are going to say – that I have a choice … that if I really wanted to stay at home, I could find a way to make it work. You’re right – I do have a choice. I want to provide things to my children that I was not afforded growing up. To quit my job would mean a significant sacrifice for my entire family … and I don’t think that’s fair either. And for the most part, I enjoy my job and I am afforded a great deal of flexibility to work from home when I need to or to take off in the middle of the day to volunteer at the kids’ schools. Not to mention the benefits my company offers for myself and my kids that we would not have available through my husband’s job. And for many women, they do not have a choice, for whatever reason, so please don’t judge or “bash” those of us that work vs stay home with our children. It is a personal choice and one that should be respected – this post is not meant to be a debate on WM vs SAHM and who has it harder. I have SAHM friends who struggle with it as well and I completely respect the amount of work that goes into staying at home with your children. We all have it, so PLEASE don’t even go there!
Which I guess brings me to my point. Mommy guilt. It is hard being a mom no matter what. I am sure I speak for every single one of you reading this when I say our mission in life is to love, care for, provide for, and make everything all right for our precious little children. We try to make the best decisions along the way – some easier than others – in the hopes that our children look back one day and cherish their childhood and think “Wow, my mom was the best mom she could be!” Mommy guilt can range from spending time away from your kids, getting frustrated with them, to not wanting to play one more game of “find the dinosaur” or turning on the TV so you can get some stuff done. I found this article that I thought I would share: Kiss Mommy Guilt Goodbye. It gives some good perspective on some common guilt traps and reminders on how to give ourselves a break.
I often think a lot of the guilt I feel is completely self imposed. Matt reminds me all the time to “not worry about it” – what ever the “it” is at the time. So maybe its time we all take a moment and pat ourselves on the back for all the things we do RIGHT!
So tonight, as soon as my plane landed, I went straight to pick my kids up from school, picked up a special dinner and spent the whole night cuddling up with them talking about all the fun stuff they did with Daddy when I was gone. And you know what the very first thing Jake told me? “Mommy, I did NOT let Daddy get Ryanne’s ears pierced!” At that moment, the biggest smile spread across my face, knowing that we have raised such an amazing little boy that will stop at nothing to take care of his little sister and keep Daddy in line when Mom is away! 🙂
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"Mommy Guilt" is something ALL moms experience. I have been in both situations..SAH and W. When I was home the guilt stemmed from the decisions I made which stemmed from all kinds things….not signing him up for soccer, letting the dr. take his braces off even though I thought it was too early, spending too much time on my cell and fussing at him too many times when he interrupted. As moms we have the ultimate objective ahead of us, to raise our children. We all want to do it right and in many cases better. That's normal. This is great post because is shows a commonality across the divide. W and SAHMs all feel the wait of the world at times in regards to our guilt. We all need take solace in knowing we are doing the best we can. Thanks for a great post Tracy!
GREAT post! Thanks for your honesty!
You are not alone…the morning I left my 3 1/2, 1 1/2 and 3 month old to go on my business trip, my son was sent home with a fever. My husband was able to take the younger two in the next day but had to keep my son home. I understand it went pretty well except for the five minutes during my husband's virtual presentation on a teleconference during which my son just HAD to have some water. God love him! Sounds like you and I married the right men!
What a great post! The grass is greener whatever side you're on. I've done both and can honestly say they are equally good and bad. We just have to support each other as moms, never judge and strive to be the best moms we can. It sounds like you are doing a fabulous job:-)
Just so you know, I am a SAHM, and my son started Kindergarten last year and asked me why he can't stay for after care…. grass is always greener…
To the SAHM above regarding your son's desire to stay for After School – thanks so much for your comment! While Jake has adapted wonderfully to the program and made many great friends, I still replay the initial days over in my head. Its good to know the other perspectives out there! And thanks to everyone else for your great feedback and support! 🙂
I totally agree, mommy guilt is inherent whether you stay at home or work. I do stay at home but I feel guilty for not playing enough and trying to get my "stuff" done instead. There's always something to feel guilty about no matter you're situation bec. we all just want to do what's best for our kids and none of us are completely sure just what that is. I think alot of it stems from the devil trying to make us second guess ourselves and our decisions.
I work full time, but because I have to (education debt is too much not to work), and it has recently started killing me because my son is 3 and just blossomed into this amazing personality right about the time his little sister was born, and I had to come back to work and leave them both in the care of their grandmothers. I work for an incredibly flexible employer (considering I'm an attorney, that's huge), I can give you a piece of advice that one of my bosses gave me when my son was born. Go in as early as you possibly can, get the work done and leave as soon as you can at the end of the day, because that's when you get to spend the most quality time with your kids and that's what they'll remember, especialy as they get older. That's why I get to my office every day around 7:45, so that I can walk out the door at 5:00 knowing that I've put in a full day's work, and then I can have time with my kids. And it's never enough, but it's better then it could be.
Your post couldn't have come at a more perfect time! I have recently gone back to work with two little ones and boy is it hard! I have a friend who is a SAHM who 'attacked' me the other day and told me how awful it was that I am not at home with my children. I am confident in my decisions about the work/life balance and have a mix where I am comfortable. What upset me the most was how dare another mother attack me for my decisions? No one has the right to do that, let alone a friend. Any decisions regarding your children and the work/life balance is extremely hard, I just wish more people were honest about it like you and admit that they have some guilt. In the end, all that matters is what works best for you and your family!
LOVE this post! Thanks CSP for such a great perspective!