For years I struggled with working-mom guilt. I kept focusing on the events that I missed in the middle of a workday or the book fairs I wasn’t able to volunteer at because I had meetings or business trips scheduled. I kept apologizing not only to my kids, but to teachers, class parents, or the fundraising chairperson.
When other moms brought delicious home-baked cookies or cakes to school, I looked at my store-bought dessert and felt inadequate in comparison. One too many nights I sacrificed much-needed hours of sleep to bake a cake or cookies around midnight when the working mom guilt reached a new high.
It turns out not only were those feelings totally useless (does guilt help pay your bills? Raise your kids? Be a better spouse?), but also unfair. If during those early school years I had taken the time to seek out the other frazzled moms, the ones also juggling a career aside from their families, I would have realized sooner that we were all doing the best we could.
Comparing myself to the moms who didn’t have a job outside their home was affecting my confidence as a mother, and I admired those who could stay at home and dedicate their time completely to their families. Although for me motherhood is not a competition, it didn’t stop me from questioning myself and my choices each time I saw what I didn’t do for my family because I was working. If I stopped to compare myself to the other working moms, I would have realized we were all doing a pretty great job at keeping it together.
Now that my kids are older, they don’t really care whether the cupcakes at school were bought at the supermarket. They care more that I was there with them to enjoy them on their birthdays. They have also learned so many things by watching me thrive in my career that I hope it helps them when they grow up and become parents, so they don’t let guilt take the joy out of their own parenting challenges.
Image courtesy of Jeannette KaplunMore On