dear working mom, i feel it too

I wrote this last year for Courtney Defeo’s blog, I’m going to work today after a much needed, unexpected break and I couldn’t think of a better way to start this Monday. The guilt is certainly alive and well on this cold and cloudy Monday morning, but I also know I have a great group waiting on me once I get to work and that eases the sting a bit. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow working mother who simply ask, how do you manage to not feel the guilt when you leave your little one at home? Immediately I felt like a bit of a fake, not feel the guilt? Is that even possible? It was one of those times when I felt like my 12-point Arial font just wouldn’t be enough,  no words from my head to that blinking cursor would come through with enough emotion and heart.  I wish I could look her in the eye, face-to-face, over a cup of coffee, and I would tell her that isn’t the case at all.

I’ve felt it in the form of extreme sadness when it was my husband who took our daughter to her first day of Mother’s Day Out.

I’ve felt it in the form of anger and resentment when I couldn’t be the one who stayed home with her on the days she pleaded with me to do just that.

I’ve felt it in the form of selfishness when I get a mid-day picture of her and I can only think about how I wish it were me taking that picture instead.

And because I’ve felt all of those things, I am stronger and I have overcome many obstacles to step into the door of the school building at 7:15 each morning.

As I’m sure you are too, whether you are working from home, or your job is in the home, or you work miles away from home.

Believe me, I’ve felt the guilt you’re referring to and I think if you’re a working mother, you have probably felt it at one point or another as well. I think on any given morning (or evening, as sometimes those are the worst for me), your emotions have spanned the gamete. And my prayer for you is that you’ve experienced and felt just as many warm and fuzzy emotions, as you’ve felt guilt.

And my main take away from these past few years as a working mom is something all moms can benefit from hearing:

It’s okay to feel the guilt, as long as you aren’t living the guilt. Guilt isn’t there for you to dwell on, it isn’t there to dictate your life. 

I don’t ever expect to stop feeling guilty, emotions are good, they are real. Just like I don’t ever expect to stop feeling happy when I see goodness.

As we think about our family growing, I’m not sure that this is where I will always be, but this season of my life will stay with me forever. I will always remember these days. I will remember how on the good days (which most days are) I felt like my heart might burst with satisfaction. A room full of kindergartners in one part of my life, and a home full of love and my favorite people in the other part of my life. And I’ll remember the bad days too, I’m sure. But my hope is that the good will always shine through.

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  1. says

    Thanks for the post. I’m a media specialist at an elementary school and have a daughter that is 2. I deal with the guilt and it seems its worse when we come off of a break. But, I ultimately know I’m able to do more for my daughter and take her on vacations because I work and one day hopefully she will come to school with me and that is an opportunity many mothers will never have.
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  2. says

    This is the hardest feeling. It doesn’t seem like there’s an easy option for moms at all! I feel guilt with even the smallest moments apart! I think that, unfortunately, guilt and anxiety are just part of the deal–and you’re right, you just have to make sure the guilt doesn’t take over. Appreciate the honest post.
    Bethany recently posted..loveworthy + musingsMy Profile

  3. Britt says

    I’m finishing up school to be an elementary school teacher and I’m already feeling worried about working full time and leaving my (will be,) 4 year old when I’ve been with him everyday since day one.. it’s not that comforting to hear of the guilt to come.. im hoping it will be eased by the fact that my husband will leave work and be a stay at hpme dad until our boy starts kindergarten.. the jealousy I may feel is not going to help our situation e

  4. says

    We are hoping to start having children in the next few years (I was hoping this summer, but life has too many twists and turns). One of the hardest parts of the concept is having to work, I almost get slightly jealous of all the women I now who live amazing lives and have everything they ever wanted and don’t have to work. I wish I had an easy choice to stay home, but what I really hope is that I have your attitude about working when babies arrive. Thanks for the encouragement Jennifer:)
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  5. says

    I wanted to respond to this a while back, but kept forgetting to! I loved this post. I read it at a time where I had really been feeling the guilt. I’ve felt the mom guilt since I went back to work in January but most recently I’ve felt the teacher guilt. A few weeks ago I was explaining to my husband that there just is so much I need to do at school but I don’t want to miss even more time with him and Hadley. It’s so hard to balance everything. I know it will come in time but for now it just stinks! I’ve had some notes in my blogger “saved” file for a while about different feelings of guilt. I finally put together a post I will be sharing tomorrow. I used a quote in it from you that really spoke to me (I gave you credit–no worries). Thank you sharing your experiences with us!

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