Working Mom Guilt: tips for easing the inevitable

by Megan Mangiaracino

Working Mom Guilt: tips for easing the inevitable

Who’s got mom-guilt? I’m not going to waste your time (since we both know how precious that commodity is) trying to convince you that you should not feel mommy guilt. It’s just inevitable. You are a terrific mother. Look at all you are juggling! And you are killin’ it at work, girl!

But, yeah, I’ll save my metaphorical breath. Mom guilt is hard to shake. You probably already feel it (or will soon if you’re expecting). So let’s just get to it.

This is how I cope with that never-ending internal voice that says “I’m not doing anything well. I completely forgot to [insert random to do list item] and I’m letting everyone down. Does my baby even know I’m his mom? Other moms do this so much better than me.”

I could go on (and often do). This is a journey, and I don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what has helped along the way.

I create tiny experiences that are specific to me and my baby.

All mommas want to feel like they are #1 for their babies. And, let’s be honest, for the most part we are. But there are times when I’ve felt like Baby B was bonding more with his teachers at daycare than with me. We also went through an incredibly painful (for me) period when B preferred my husband to me. It would send me into an emotional spiral. Over time, when that cup feels low I find that a little “Momma-only” tradition fills it up.

For example, I have this song I made up…”Monkey noodle boy…Monkey noodle boy…Monkey, Monkey, ooh ahh ahh! Monkey, monkey ooh ahh ahh!” And no I wasn’t smoking anything when I made it up, it just happened. But B laughs SO hard whenever we sing it together. I guarantee you no one else is singing that song with him (or any other baby for that matter).

Maybe it’s a fun song before bed, providing your baby with breastmilk, or the fact that you’re the only person that has the guts to clip baby’s fingernails. It’s YOUR thing. Because you are #1 to your baby, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

I remind myself that I spend more time with my kid than Leave it to Beaver’s mom did.

This fact was shocking to me when I first read it. According to a recent Pew Center study, moms spend an average of 14 hours a week caring for children. In 1965 (albeit a little after Leave it to Beaver, but still) mothers spent only 10 hours a week on childcare. And over the same period, our paid work hours have doubled.

How is that possible? Well, basically, today we just ask more of ourselves as mothers. Now whether that is fair or healthy for us as women is another topic entirely. Instead, to ease my personal guilt I think about how my child isn’t getting any less one-on-one time with me than decades of well-adjusted now-adults got with their mothers.

I reframe the ‘why’

There are many reasons why I am a working momma. We enjoy a larger income as a dual-income couple and because of that, we are able to save for college and afford opportunities and experiences that might not otherwise be in the budget. Those are easy to quantify.

And then there are the more nuanced reasons, that sometimes I have to remind myself of when the more obvious reasons aren’t easing my mom guilt. My son is watching me work hard and achieve something that’s meaningful to me. So I remind myself I’m parenting even when I’m away at work, by emulating this behavior, just as much as I am when we’re in the same room together. You are setting a beautiful, strong and powerful example for your baby – bravo!

We do it for the mommas who come after us.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

All women should feel supported to work and be mothers, be mothers and work, if they so choose it. Unfortunately, there’s still some work to be done in making sure we’re fully supporting working moms (and dads) as best as we can. You probably know by now that U.S. is the only developed country in the world that has no maternity leave policy. Here at Baby Boldly, we are NOT standing for that. You can read more about that here.

I may be a very tiny whisper adding to the rising chant around more working momma-centric policies, but I’m still proud of that addition. As working mothers we are all helping to create a more working momma-friendly society so that {hopefully} our daughters can kick working mom guilt to the curb for good!

No one loves my baby like I do and always will.

When you’re working a 9-to-5 with a commute and a baby that goes to sleep at 7:30pm, it can sometimes be depressing when you do the math and add up the hours – or minutes – you got to spend with your child for the week. When I have to work late, or I sneak in that once-in-a-blue-moon girls-night, I still get that sinking feeling in my stomach. And it feels like tick-tock.

But something that’s been on my mind lately is that as a parent, you will have the longest relationship with your baby than anyone else on earth. Think of that! As mommas, we get to be there for first steps, soccer games, graduations, marriages, births, big success, let downs, broken hearts, apartment shopping, dorm move-in days, birthday parties…all of it. And I’m pretty sure there will be a day when Baby B is full grown, and he’ll call me up because he needs something that only his momma can (or will) do for him. And I’ll be there, ready to help/support/love as only a momma–working or not–can.

What are some ways you temper your mom-guilt? Are there some scenarios you feel mom-guilt about, but not others? Share them with us!

Bold Momma on the Blog Today

Megan is co-founder of Baby Boldly and a full-time nonprofit fundraiser in Florida. She has been married to Mike for 3 years and (if you don’t count her furbaby, Max) she became a mom to Bennett in 2017. Megan believes strongly in supporting women (especially working mothers), the power of optimism and generosity, and the sacred tradition of Showtunes Friday in her car.

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