When I first started working- Sarah was only six months. I could not live with the guilt I felt leaving her every morning. I remember crying to my husband that I was an “evening and weekends mom”. I know, I know, harsh. I hated feeling like my attention was divided between home and work. Notice my use of the word “was”. Although I still feel guilty; I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself for having a career. My attention isn’t divided. Sarah with me, even when I am not at home. Yes, I still feel sick to my stomach every Sunday at the thought of leaving her the following morning, but hearing her squeals of delight because “Mommy’s home” is everything.
The worst part for those of us suffering from “working mom guilt” is the way we beat ourselves up for all of the milestones we feel our children haven’t accomplished yet because of us. For example, I’ve been struggling to potty-train Sarah. When I look around and see all the other potty-trained 2-year-olds- I feel like the worst mom in the world. Is my career somehow holding Sarah back? Am I selfish because I not only “need” to work, but because I want to work as well? I’m sure I am not the only mom in the world who has asked themselves these questions. Probably more than once. Some days, it’s all I can think about.
Every day I’m learning not to punish myself for everything that goes wrong at home. Yesterday, we went out to eat and I took Sarah to the bathroom and she peed in the toilet for the first time and then announced it to the whole restaurant. Seeing her raise her arms and then yell at the top of her lungs, “I went pee pee in the toilet!” was the highlight of my weekend. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a small victory.
And that’s what I am choosing to focus on. The small victories. Making Sarah dinner and hearing her exclaim, “Mom, this is delicious!” Brushing her hair and watching her dance around in excitement as she shows it off. Tucking her in at night and hearing her little voice whisper, “pica”, so that I scratch her back until she falls asleep. These “small victories” are the moments I live for.
Yes, I still think, If only, if only- I could be a stay at home mom! I could do all of the things on my Pinterest board that I’m normally too exhausted to do! I could have “me time” and not feel like it’s taking from “her time”. I could stop sharing self-care memes and actually take care of myself.
But, I’m realizing now that I can do both. I can take care of myself and still making taking care of her a priority. I work for Child Protective Services and one of the things I like to tell my clients is: “If you’re not safe- your children will not be safe”. I think that statement is true of anyone. Our physical safety may not be at risk, but our spiritual and emotional well-being is compromised when instead of taking care of ourselves- we wallow in our working mom guilt.
So, let’s stop beating ourselves up! Because when we do that- we’re not only hurting ourselves- we’re hurting our children! I melodramatically declared to my hubby the other day that I was going to take a nap and not feel guilty about it. He looked surprised at first, but then nodded and said, “you should never feel guilty for being tired”(And that is why I love him!).
So there you have it, you should never feel guilty for being tired, or for ordering pizza instead of a home-cooked meal, or for falling asleep in the church nursery (True story!)… or for being a full-time mommy who also works.
Thanks for reading!