Guilt is a powerful emotion.
Guilt can be considered the “glue” for society. Humans are naturally prone to arguments, which would have made it basically impossible for them to live in close-knit families and groups without destroying each other. Guilt is nature’s solution. This emotion is an emotional restraint against aggression and harmful impulses.
Think back to caveman times. If Caveman Fred hit Caveman Bob over the head with a boulder to steal the last leg of woolly mammoth meat, things wouldn’t run so smoothly in their clan. If Caveman Linda abandoned her kids with Caveman Karen to run off for weeks at a time, there would be some major problems. Guilt is necessary, in some scenarios.
I get it- guilt is important for society; however, mother’s seem to have highly overly-sensitive guilt sensors built into their brains. And guilt seems to beat the crap out of working moms in powerful ways. After having children, some of us are forced to return to work against our will to make ends meet. Some of us make the choice to return to jobs we enjoy or have worked hard for. Regardless of our reason, one thing remains consistent across working moms – we all have some form of mom guilt.
Once I ran through a red light at my house on the way home from work. I literally almost was in a car accident so that I could get home 1 minute earlier to relieve myself of my working mom guilt. This seems a bit counter-productive. If guilt is supposed to keep us safe, why did it almost kill me.
We are good mother’s who only want the very best for our children. Let’s banish these 5 toxic working-mom-guilts that invasively flood our minds and only cause us harm.
1) “Someday I will look back and regret that I worked”
I have three children, and I work full time. I went back to work 12 weeks after having my first child. Saying it was difficult would be an understatement. I remember having this constant, nagging feeling that some day I would look back and wish I quit my job. I felt like my future self was waving a judgmental finger at me while scolding me that I missed out on so much.
Now, 7 years down the line, I am that ‘future self‘, and I am actually angry that I wasted so much time feeling guilty about this. In reality, I feel blessed that I didn’t quit my job. I have worked my way up in my company to a flexible position- where we are able to have dinner as a family each night together. I can attend all of my children’s school performances and evening/weekend activities. We are financially in a comfortable place, and we have a great relationship.
I look back and realize that I made the most out of every single moment we spent together. Good riddance guilt #1!
2) “What if I miss the important milestones, like their first step”
I hear a lot of working moms tear up over potentially missing milestones, and I recall having the same reaction. As a mother, it is no surprise you want to be present for your child’s first word, first step, first fart, or first anything.
I found that defining a “first time” is actually a gray area. For example, for the first word: “Bah” turns into “Mah”, which turns into “Ma-ma” over a few weeks. One wobbly attempt at a step, turns into one solid step, which slowly turns onto walking. What exactly is a ‘first word’ or ‘first step’. Not to mention, even if you were home 100% of the time, you could miss their first word when they are in the crib and you wouldn’t even know it!
If you are a loving parent, you will be part of these “firsts”, no matter what. Don’t get caught up in defining the timing of these milestones. What matters, is that you are involved, and your child knows it.
3) “Will they forget me if I am not there”
Personally, my biggest working mom fear was that my baby would forget about me and start to call the babysitter “Mama”. Early on in my working-mom-journey, if I wasn’t at work I was with my baby to avoid this guilt.
If my friends invited me out on the weekends, I told them I was “busy”. I did truly want to spend time with my kids, but part of turning down my friends was that the guilt of being away from my children (and the fear that they would forget me) strapped me down. I thought, “I was away all week for work. Leaving for even an extra minute would make me a terrible mother.”
Overtime, I realized this couldn’t be farther from the truth. My children were happy and thriving. They were social kids that enjoyed being around other people, and they didn’t feel any less love to me if I left the house. Most of the time, they didn’t even realize I was gone.
I feel that my children and I have the opportunity to be super excited to see each other every day. Chill out mom-guilt #3, we don’t need you over here!
4) “We will not have enough time to bond”
For years, I had a seriously strong guilt that I would not be able to bond properly with my children since I was a working mom. Would I just become another “babysitter” in their eyes?
I read a study that evaluated how much time working moms spend truly interacting with their children. The study basically showed that working moms actually spend the same amount of time interacting with their children as a stay at home mother. Deep down, I knew that was true. When I am home I make a point to sit on the floor and play Barbies with my daughter or go outside and throw baseball with my son. Sometimes that means that I am doing laundry at 11 pm, but I make that sacrifice willingly.
I focus on having true quality time, and I don’t take a single moment for granted.
5. “Am I messing up my kids?”
I saved the big mamma of mom guilts for the end. Of course we don’t want to miss milestones or have our kids call their sitter “mommy”, but those aren’t harmful or dangerous concerns. The fear that we may be ruining our kids in some way, is a guilt that will no doubt keep you up at night.
Does my child think I put work in front of them? Will growing up with a working mom hurt them in anyway? Will this negatively impact them in the future?
Recent studies have confirmed what I have noticed with my own. Children of working moms thrive. My children love their daycare. They love to make new friends and experience new things. Of course that is not only because I am a working mom, but I honestly feel that there exposure to different routines helps.
My children are proud of me. They know that I am working hard to support our family. My daughter constantly talks about what she wants to be when she grows up. In our house, my children have no added emotional stress due to my work schedule.
Do I still have some lingering mom guilt? Of course. Being a mother is hard. Whether you work, stay at home, or do something in between you are surely faced with mom guilts. If you are reading this article, I know it applies to you!
But unlike Caveman Linda, we don’t need toxic feelings of guilt to stop us from abandoning our children in a saber-tooth tiger cave. We don’t need these thoughts to be torturing us while we are trying to do what is best for our family.
If you let your love for your children guide you, instead of your guilt, you can trust that you are raising your children the right way.
Check out some of my other posts on working mom life:
- How to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts as a Mom
- 3 Uncomfortable [but Common] Thoughts All Moms Experience at Times
- 5 Things I Stopped Caring About in my 30s that Boosted my Happiness
- Dear Mama, You Don’t Actually Need a Side Hustle
- 5 Things Kids Don’t Need, But Parents Still Stress Over
Do you have other guilts that are bothering you? If you are a stay at home mom (or work at home mom) I am sure you have your own set of ‘mom guilts! Let me know in the comments below!
If you found this helpful, share it!
Wednesday 9th of October 2019
Love this! First of all, your pictures are too adorable! Everyone suffers from mom guilt in some form or another. I love that you have experienced this and are sharing your insight with other moms. This is SO helpful!
Wednesday 9th of October 2019
I love this! There is always mommy guilt but that's okay! Some moms work and some stay home. We're all mommys though!
Tuesday 8th of October 2019
I am a stay at home mom but I’m sure if I was a working mom I’d have similar feelings. But even as a stay at home mom, we have plenty of guilt. There is always something on our momma minds.
Tuesday 8th of October 2019
Such a great post! I had to make a conscious decision to be done with mom guilt because it got so bad
Monday 12th of August 2019
On my first day back to work after having my first child, a friend said to me: you are modeling for your daughter that women can be mothers and be strong in their careers as well. Another friend said that daycare provides more social interaction and stimulus and one parent could ever provide throughout the day, it is ‘the village‘.