The Working Mother’s Guilt

I feel guilty for working. My husband does not work much, but when he does, no one makes him feel bad. It’s a mother thing.

My sister-in-law who owns her own business reported that in a parent-teacher meeting one of the teachers told her, “I can tell that you work outside the home, because your children are very hard workers.”

I think about that conversation a lot. It comforts me. Although I am plagued with guilt – whenever I have to be away from the kids for a night or a late evening for work — I hope that the kids notice, appreciate and feel motivated to work hard too.

I hope women on all sides of the work equation realize that women’s lives are in flux.

One of my best friends whom I met when our kids were in preschool, is a banker. She wore a business suit to the preschool graduation. In my stained sweat suit, I was jealous. I was a stay at home mom, trying to scare up freelance writing work, but  found only new toddler Mommy and Me classes. I contemplated writing a book called Stay at Home Moms: How They Work! Then I landed my fulltime gig.

My friend quit her job. For seven years she was a stay at home mom, working for no pay — as in serving as president of the parent’s association. This year she returned to the paid world of banking.

I’ve been a fulltime working mother since the girls’ toddler years, saving my sweatsuit for the weekends.

I like to think the kids secretly like and benefit from the fact that their mother works hard and is the family breadwinner.

Working Mother magazine reported that ’57 percent of working mothers feel guilty every single day, and 31 percent feel guilty at least once a week.’ I am not alone.

This relates to my Rule Number 7 to Embrace uncertainty. One day you’re a stay at home mom and the next day you’re back in business. Enjoy it. Work hard wherever you find yourself and try not to feel guilty or jealous along the way.

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