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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mommy Guilt

By Tracy S, Charlotte Smarty Pants

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! :)


Bethany said...

Love this post!! As moms we ofter are way too hard on ourselves. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I could not agree with this more! I am a part-time working mom, so I get a little of both worlds, but either way I know I would have this guilt. I think the toughest part is that I know when the TV is on I am usually not stopping any fights or having to clean up any messes, so it is always a good down time when I am at the end of my rope. It sounds horrible to say it out loud, but it feels good to know I am not the only one!

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