Mommy Guilt

This guilt haunts me day in and day out.  When I’m at work, I feel horrible that I’m not with my daughter, Maggie.  When I’m with Maggie I feel guilty for not being at work or working from home.  I’m sure many of you are in a similar situation.  While at work you find yourself researching if  four years old is too young for Kumon and enrolling in ballet classes and when you’re with your children you have your smart phone nearby desperately trying not to read it during Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Here’s what I’ve determined: this guilt is NEVER going to go away so we must embrace it.

It’s sort of like that poem about dancing like no one’s watching.  We have to live each day,  whether we are with our children or at work, to the fullest. My best friend convinced me to cut back to four days per week after may daughter was born. She said that extra day would make me feel better and become sacred to my daughter. She was right. She also said working makes her a better mom and being a mom makes her a better manager. She was right again.

So I’m learning to embrace the guilt and have set guidelines (not rules) for myself.

  1. Friday, my day off, is sacred.  I’m not working from home, I’m off. (I took a pay cut so I’d feel even less guilty.)  I focus my attention on Maggie and what she wants to do.  I try not to do laundry, pay bills, run errands.  I always ask her what she wants to do.  Now if you don’t have the luxury of cutting back a day, set aside time on the weekends that is 100 percent focused on your children and DON’T multitask.  The laundry and gardening will always be there.
  2. When I’m at work, I try very hard to stay focused on work.  If need to enroll in classes, order photos from our vacation, or send an email to a teacher, I do it during lunch. The rest of the day I “live in the moment.”  This was difficult at first. I’d realize hours had gone by and I’d not thought about Maggie and I’d feel like a terrible mother. I was so excited about a new project I forgot about my kid! But when I pick her up from preschool/day care she tells me about all the fun she had and my guilt evaporates.
  3. I’ve come to the realization that Maggie needs to know a lot of people love her and care for her — grandparents, aunts, teachers, day care providers, babysitters.  She needs to learn she can trust and be comfortable with people other than my husband and me.  I love when people ask me how I potty trained Maggie.  My reply is, “I didn’t!”  Rose and Mary Lou, her day care providers, did.  They also taught her how to write her name and safely climb up a slide.  Now I could have freaked out that I didn’t do these things, but did I really want to go through potty training? And I’m a clutz, so better she learn to climb from someone else.
  4. I want my daughter to see all the possibilities that exist for women.  I want her to know uou can be a great mommy and help  tell the world about electric cars.  Heck I hope one day she actually helps build electric cars and is blessed with a beautiful family.
  5. I often use some of my parenting techniques when managing a team.  Sometimes adults need to calm down and have a time out.  My mediation skills have improved and I’m able to problem solve much more effectively. And time management? Wow!  I’m convinced working moms are the best employees because we only have a certain about of time and energy to get a job done and we WILL get it done — failure isn’t an option.

So, embrace the guilt and use it to your advantage. Because as far as I can tell, it’s never going to go away.
—Sara Locricchio, Parenting Program Volunteer

2 Responses to “Mommy Guilt”

  1. 1 jennifer buszka June 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Love Love Love this post…VERY well done.

    There are some great tips in here for the working women of the world, who are very close to out numbering the amount of men in the workforce.

  2. 2 Sarah Jo June 6, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    This couldn’t have come at a better time. I struggle with these same issues. I know that I need to work outside the home in order to be a happy and well-rounded mom, but it’s tough not to be the first one to witness every single milestone your children reach.

    I like your ideas about sticking to your days off. Too often I have a hard time saying no to work.

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