5 Ways to Cope with Working Mom Guilt
As a working mom, I know what it feels like to feel guilty about dropping your child off at a babysitter or daycare center. Both my girls have been in childcare since an early age.
My employer does not pay maternity leave; so in order to get a pay check while being home with the baby, I had to accrue sick leave. Accruing sick leave was harder than I thought it would be. I made sure to not take any time off but some things are just inevitable.
When pregnant with Amelia, I got sick; fever, body aches, horrible cough, you name it. I had to be home for a week because I was not able to take anything. The doctors told me I simply had to let it run its course. With Aylah, my doctor’s availability was limited so there were a few times where I had to take time off for doctor’s appointments.
With that being said, I was only able to accumulate about 2-4 weeks off. Who is ready to go back to work in 2-4 weeks after giving birth? Especially after having Amelia, which was a cesarean section delivery and I was a first time mommy. There was no way I was ready to go back so soon. So no money came in for about 2 months. I stayed home for 3 months with Amelia and 2 with Aylah.
I saw my husband working long hours and as much as we needed the money, I also needed him at home to help me, especially after baby #2. At that moment, it became clear that being a stay-at-home mom was just not an option for our family.
As you can imagine, bringing Amelia to a babysitter after only 3 months was the hardest thing ever. I cried so much my first week back to work. I tried to make finances work with just my husband’s income, but it was just too unrealistic for us. Each day she cried as I left, I felt the guilt. I felt like I was being the worst mother because I was leaving her with a sitter. As time went on, it got easier. Amelia grew to love the sitter and stopped crying when I left and the guilt slowly diminished.
Here is what I learned that helped me cope with that evil working mom guilt:
YOU ARE LETTING YOUR CHILD GROW
It is no secret that children act differently when mom is around. I did not believe this at first but it is true. My mom would tell me the same thing. I noticed my nephew and other children doing the same thing, they would act a certain way when mom was around and completely different in her absence. Being away from mom allows children to form their own thoughts and feelings without seeking mom’s affirmation.
IT IS OK TO ENJOY BEING A WORKING WOMAN
Everyone’s finances are different. In my family, staying at home was just not an option for us, as much as I tried over and over to make it work, it did not. Ariel is no millionaire so off to work I went. At first, I felt guilty because I just knew that lady could not take care of my baby the way I can. With time, Amelia would wave bye-bye to me and was off to doing her own thing. She was comfortable and apparently, our sitter was the right pick because Amelia loved her. I was then able to enjoy being a working woman and no longer allow shame to take over. I accepted that I was still a great mother regardless of my decision to work. Having a job gives me purpose outside of my children. I feel like I still am who I am and motherhood was just another hat added to who I already was.
PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS MAKE YOU FEEL GUILTY
No matter what decision you make, people will always judge and say things that will make you question your decision. I am sure that stay-at-home moms are sick and tired of the comments about them not having to work or maybe have been called lazy for not working. Regardless of what you do, you cannot please everyone. The way I see it is, if they are not helping you in any way, then they should just keep their comments to themselves. We all have enough on our plates to allow others to have a say on how we mother OUR children.
I am a firm believer that perception is everything. Having a family is such a blessing and regardless of everything else, always look at it through those eyes. You are blessed. You have a beautiful spouse and beautiful children. Appreciate the gift God has given you and let all those negative emotions go.
YOU MADE THE RIGHT DECISION FOR YOUR FAMILY
As I have stated, over and over, only you know what is best for your family and I am sure that the decision you made was the best one. Remember, there is no such thing as a perfect mom and there is no right or wrong answer. We all struggle sometimes but we figure it out. Isn’t that the basis of parenting anyway? Figuring it out? Stay At Home mommies have just as much stress as working mommies.
One thing I always keep in mind is that life changes fairly quickly. Soon, my girls will be in elementary school making lifelong friends. Your current situation will not last forever. Embrace where you are in life now because it is temporary and regardless of your decision, you are good enough!
To read more on mom guilt and how to conquer it, click the link below and check out this free downloadable e-book I found written by Emma Johnson with Working Moms Mean Business.