6 Kinds Of Guilt Boss Moms Need To Embrace. Aka Dear Guilt: Let’s Be Friends [Guest Post]
I started preparing this post as a fierce how-to guide on saying “sayonara” to working mom guilt. But somewhere along the path of words, we reconciled, and I landed in a happier place with guilt, recognizing that our tumultuous on-and-off-again relationship may not be entirely one-sided after all. Mom guilt, in moderation, serves as a check-and-balance on life. It also means you have a conscience and you care, so that’s always a good thing!
I had a strong corporate career for a decade. I thrived on the challenge, the strategy, the rewards. Then came love, marriage, and the baby carriage. When faced with the decision, I struggled with the idea of being a stay-at-home mom — “giving up” all I had worked for — but just the thought of spending so many precious hours away from my son (who would likely be our only) was unbearable. There emerged my dream role–Mompreneur.
When Graham was first born, I worked all of the time because I could work from home. I’d focus on getting everything done when he was napping and in the evenings. Ultimately, it was chaos, but it was my perfect mom-to-career ratio, all except the ever-nagging guilt factor that is. As my baby and my business grew, I moved the company out of the house. It was a relief to have the lines more delineated. But I felt a constant, heavy onslaught of guilt: guilt about home when at work, and guilty about work when at home. My quest to do everything, eventually left me convinced I could do nothing well!
When we’ve been boss all day, cleaned, cooked, carpooled, cashed our paychecks, brushed the teeth, and read the books, we crawl into bed and tell ourselves what horrible moms we are. We’re conditioned to think that we should be able to do everything because we are mom, and we are “modern women” at that. And when we can’t do it all up to our own self-set unrealistic standards, then we think there’s something wrong with us. We are so hard on ourselves!
I eventually climbed out of my rut (which was mostly self-loathing anyway), made nice with the guilt, and worked towards an obtainable home-work balance. Here are some tips on how you can remove the guilt blinders to focus your finite energy on what truly matters: ensuring that your children know they are wanted, loved, and loveable, no matter what – and that they benefit from having you as a role model of both a parent and a business leader. So, when you feel . . .
Guilty about not being the “perfect mom”
My son just watched two straight hours of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood while I was buried in my computer firing off urgent e-mails. Would some of my stay-at-home mom friends allow this to happen on their watch? Who knows! But the reality is that stay-at-home moms can have as much stress as working moms, if not more at times. Either way, each of us was perfectly designed to be the mother of our own children. If you have chosen to be a working mom, that is the right decision for you and your family. Repeat after me: “I have chosen to be a working mom and that is the right decision for me and my family.”
Guilty for missing out
FOMO is real. As a working mom, I’m not going to witness every single minute of my son’s day, and sometimes it makes me really sad that I’ve missed a sweet story or fun time. I make tradeoffs for what I believe is for the greater good of our family, as difficult as that is to stomach sometimes.
I have also found much solace in finding our three-year-old a pre-school where he is receiving education, interaction, and stimulation that I am simply not equipped to provide. I am not a teacher; my passion is not early childhood development. These people are experts and they are awesome! I’m okay to let them fill in on the days I am at the office.
Guilty finding gratification in a title other than “Mom”
Ultimately, instead of guilt, a working mother who feels satisfied, who is also contributing to the household income and making her life better for her child should feel good about that. We are teaching our children to pursue their own path, that women have choices, that life can be not only full, but also full of joy.
Guilty accepting help
We didn’t ask for help in my family. We were “strong”—never wanting to be a burden or a bother. It’s no surprise I still struggle with this today. When someone offers help, I have to metaphorically slap myself for thinking, “Oh no, what did I do wrong?! I must look like I need help!” and rapidly change my thought to, “Wow, what a kind gesture. I am blessed by this support system.
If someone wants to help out, let them! If Mom offers to iron your shirts, take her up on it. If your best friend is an amazing chef and her family won’t eat leftovers (true story), enjoy them when she offers them up.
Rather than thinking that needing help is a sign of failure, weakness, or vulnerability, consider it a little grace to help you through the day. Just remember to be grateful and to extend that helping hand to another mom in need when you see an opportunity.
I used to feel really guilty about this one. Again I saw it as a sign of failure, that I should be able to take care of my household all on my own. I should be able to do it ALL. But once I gave in, I was SO glad I did.
They say you can’t buy time, but I absolutely believe you can. How many hours does it take to clean the house? I can pay a cleaning service to do it for $100. I just bought four hours of time at $25/hour. That is time I can spend with my son, not stressed about the milk splashes on the floor and the dust building up on the picture frames. Worth. Every. Penny.
Baking three-dozen Pinterest-worthy cupcakes for my child’s 1st birthday party? Please! Unless you have a love of baking, Safeway’s are 50 cents each, fully customizable, and delish!
We, of course, all have to evaluate our own personal time-value of money and what our budgets allow for. But do decide when it’s worth it to you, and DON’T feel guilty for doing it now and then.
Guilty that 60 minutes of playing trains is exhausting
Somewhere along the line, “playmate” became another line item on the mom job description. In reality, do children need to be entertained their every waking hour? Were you? I’m guessing not. But I do find that when the mom guilt is really nagging, it is probably a good time to gut check on this one. Put the phone down, close the computer, let the emails stack up and play hookie to get on the floor and laugh with your little(s)!
So ladies, I invite you to embrace the imperfections, the chaos, the mess of life in many hats. You’ve been given unique gifts and talents, and a huge capacity to love and care for your family. You really are doing it all, and despite those creeping feelings of guilt, you are doing it well!
Michelle is the founder and President of 2Berry Creative (a premiere online craft and party supply destination) and a new brand called Life is Meshy launching in Spring 2016. Now residing in sunny Scottsdale with her husband and three year-old son, Michelle will always be a midwestern girl at heart. With two degrees from the UW-Madison, she spent ten years in PR and marketing before launching into the daunting, yet exhilarating world of entrepreneurship. Her favorite things are hikes with her guys, smoothies, best friends, mountains, and amazing grace.