A Tribute to Working Mothers, Part 2: Working + Mommy Guilt

Welcome to Part 2 of my Tribute to Working Mothers! If you missed Part 1, you can catch it here (topic: the hardest part about being a mother that works outside the home). And, meet the mothers here!

There’s a general assumption that if you are a mother and work full-time outside of the home, that you are riddled with persistent guilt and sacrifice your ability to be the best caretaker you can be since your focus is split between work and children. Not only are these notions incredibly antiquated and founded upon blatantly false assumptions, but they are horrific generalizations.

I recently came across a report by Working Mother Media that stated:

Our survey found widespread work/life disconnection: Women want one arrangement, but settle for another…

Some fretting falls along predictable lines…
Yes, working moms (51 percent) feel guilty about not spending enough time with their kids. And stay-at-home moms (55 percent) worry about not making a contribution to the family finances.

…But some might surprise you.
That nagging inner voice. Who’s judging you: the unsympathetic manager, competitive co-workers, the demanding spouse? Nope. Women overwhelmingly say, “I am my own worst critic.”

In fact, Working Mother’s president, Carol Evans, says, “The factors that weigh on working mothers throughout their lives are endlessly complex and fascinating.” Part 2 of my Tribute to Working Mothers underscores this fact – that every mother and every situation is different. Because of that, there is simply no room for judgment and generalizations about the “best kind of mother.”

Read on (and watch on)… let me know what you think of this one.

In Part 2, the It-Girl mothers answer two questions about working outside the home…

 

Do you ever feel guilty for working?

Some people believe that the best mother is one who stays at home. Thoughts?

 

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I absolutely love Steph’s empowering and selfless stance on guilt. Just melts my heart. And in terms of having a parent stay at home, she has a very practical thought on that too.

{Do you ever feel guilty?}
I don’t feel guilty about working. In my house, my daughter is aware that her iPad mini costs money. And so do her Nike volleyball shoes. And so does electricity, and food, and that nice trip to Chicago I took her on. I don’t let her, or anyone make me feel guilty about working to provide for my child and myself. Living takes money. Period. Money doesn’t grow on trees, last time I checked, so no. No guilt about working. The guilt for me is in how that money is distributed. Because I’m a single working Mom and there’s only one income stream to make ends meet, I’m often making choices that boil down to: Does Kerrigan get what she wants or do I get what I want? If I choose for myself, I often feel guilty. And that happens every single day. I’m charged with the responsibility of making sure she’s taken care of, and a lot of times that’s at my own expense. The money always goes to Kerrigan first, and I take what’s left.

{Best mother is one who stays at home… thoughts?}
To me, this is a two-part question. Ultimately, the best kind of mother or father is the kind who loves his or her child unconditionally and shows it. You don’t have to be a stay-at-home parent to accomplish that. Having said that, I do think children benefit from having a parent at home, whether that’s Mom or Dad. And that extends well into their middle school and high school years, when they, arguably, need their parents the most. It provides security, consistency, and offers opportunities for interaction that you might not have due to work commitments. So yes, I do feel it’s best to have a parent at home. But in this day and age, that’s a luxury for any working family. It’s preferred, not practical.

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Lynette accepts that, as a mother, guilt is just a part of life. But, it’s important to balance that by demonstrating to your children that it’s okay to do things that make you feel fulfilled.

{Do you ever feel guilty?}
I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that, as a mother, you’re always going to feel guilty no matter what you do. You always feel guilt and question yourself. Especially as my son gets ready to go to college, I wonder if I did a good job raising him, if he’s as prepared as he could be, etc. Also, I always feel guilty saying no.

{Best mother is one who stays at home… thoughts?}
If you can do that, more power to you. It’s better to be true to yourself and keep yourself healthy and full. If you’re constantly focused on your kids and there are no other aspects of your life, you won’t be as good of a mom. You need to teach your kids that it’s okay to take care of yourself. I’ve done both so I realize how hard each position can be.

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See what the rest of the moms had to say:

 

I’d love to hear what your experiences have been – either as a mother yourself, or through friends or family that you know. Drop a comment below and let’s chat!

CK

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