#momlife, Work

5 Common Sources of Working Mom Guilt

I never anticipated the crushing force of mom guilt and how much going back to work would exacerbate the problem. Your heart aches in ways I never knew possible, and I blame my hormones for this 100%. Since these hormones, however, are completely out of my control, I figured I may as well address the problem head on by dissecting the sources of my mommy angst, right?

Ending Breastfeeding

Going back to work is an often-cited reason for giving up breastfeeding. This was probably the biggest source of emotional anguish for me, and I would not have expected it in a million years. It was also likely the most hormonally fueled meltdown I had that I can attribute to mommy guilt. I ended breastfeeding, or rather gave up pumping breast milk, at the 7 month mark for various reasons that I could do a whole post about, but I’m still questioning my decision and doubting whether it was the right thing to do, and I can’t make those thoughts go away.

Ultimately, I was a formula-fed baby and I turned out fine. I gained back hours in the day, hours that I need to work, not to mention flexibility, which has also been necessary for days full of meetings. I also shed the dietary restrictions, caffeine limits, and lack of alcohol, which has allowed me to enjoy life just a little bit more. I should not have to feel guilty for that. And yet, I do. Damn hormones.

Having to Focus on the Day to Day

When you’re busy with work and you’re just trying to fit everything in, it can feel like you don’t have enough time to do anything extra. It feels like you’re only doing the day-to-day tasks that need to get done, e.g., feedings and bath time, and don’t have time to do enriching activities. I would love to take him out somewhere new every day, but there are just not enough hours available.

I actually sat down and calculated how many hours I would need to do everything that I would want to do with him on a daily basis if I could, and I came up with a whopping 9 hours of baby time I would need to have free from other obligations. Clearly, I must be trying to drive myself crazy and a reality check was in order. Not only can I not do everything on my list with a full time job, I’m also just trying to do too much in general. Calm down, girl.

Missing Moments

We don’t currently have child care, but we do have grandparents who frequently help out. When I have to spend a long day at the office, which is thankfully few and far between, it’s possible I could miss something. My mother, in particular, seemed hell bent on having him crawl when he was in her care. The thing is, and the reason that this point bothers me perhaps the least, he is a little person. There are going to be many things that I’m not necessarily a part of that are pivotal points in growing up. He needs relationships and moments with other people, and particularly with other family members, as part of his own experiences. Both mom and dad work remotely anyway, so he probably gets to spend more time with both of us than most American babies are able, given the crappy parental leave policies in this country.

Does He Think I’ve Abandoned Him?

No, I know he does not. He is pretty much always watched by people who love him, entertain him, feed him, and change him and who do whatever else he needs. Does that make me wonder any less if he cries looking for me? No, it does not. Do I need to stop fretting about this? Yes, I do.

I should think of it this way: I want to raise an independent, self-sufficient little person. If he is always searching for his mama, that is not going to happen. He is always happy to see me when I return, but he is also thankfully not suffering because I’m gone, and that’s the way it should be.

Being a Control Freak

I thought I’d be cool with a whole host of things that I’ve gone Psycho Mom about, and part of this has stemmed from mom guilt and the feeling that I should be filling every role and fulfilling every need this new little creature may have. I am the worst about weaning because I have chosen this as my pet cause to do my way. It makes it pretty difficult to spend long periods of time away from him, and I’m really doing this to myself. I just have this need to do things right or as I planned, and I’m putting so much pressure on myself that it can become a serious point of stress. One of the reasons that weaning is so important to me is because I love food and want him to have a great relationship with it too. I need to be reminded that I’m doing it wrong if it’s not fun, and stress, especially self-imposed, is no fun.

It’s a comfort to know that I’m not alone in having these feelings. I’ve read a good number of blogs that share in these emotions that rear their ugly head when you’re heading out the door. My advice to myself and others: take a deep breath, it’s all in your mind, your baby is fine, and it’s probably you who needs to get out more. I know I do.

Diary of an imperfect mum
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21 thoughts on “5 Common Sources of Working Mom Guilt

  1. There’s a whole host of guilt issues surrounding working mums. I am a part time working mum and on the days I work, I leave the house feeling awful. Scared that I’m missing out, guilty that I’m not there for them and tired from trying to juggle it all. But flipping that coin, I also like working! It is something that it mine and mine only, that I do for me. It shows my children that it’s OK to go out to work and earning a living is an important aspect of adult life. I find the balance very difficult though and will forever feel that mum guilt. #coolmumclub

    1. There was a study that came out recently that linked intelligence to having a working mom, so there’s that at least. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    1. Yes, I think it does a bit, although I feel like it comes when you hit your own breaking point and finally unequivocally see that you cannot do everything yourself. I may be in a bit of different situation though, since my work schedule will never have a routine. Thanks for commenting!

  2. There are always going to be guilt issues around going back to work. I totally understand why many women give up breastfeeding when they do – if I’d have had to sit with the pump in my office every day, I would never have kept it up. And you’re right – there are never enough hours in the day. I basically just manage work-dinner-bath-bed and pretty much nothing else most days. #stayclassymama
    The Squirmy Popple recently posted…How I became an accidental extended breastfeederMy Profile

  3. Pack away the guilt, it gets you know where. All his firsts are the first time you see them, so ignore everything else. A lot of daycares work on that theory, and they’re trained professionals. (one of my kids started rolling, but rolling across the room, the minute I turned my back. It took about a week to actually see him do it. I’d put him on the mat, and if I turned around only for an instant, he’d be in the corner. So I was at home and it was a week before I actually saw this, no matter how hard I tried and watched. It’s the same thing if you’re at work). #Stayclassymama
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…First of the Month Fiction – AprilMy Profile

  4. Ending breastfeeding was so hard, I was depressed for a week or two after I stopped. As you’ve said it was so unexpected because I didn’t really enjoy breastfeeding, but when I had to stop it was very emotional for me. The other one you’ve mentioned that struck a cord is missing the day to day, at first I was so hurt that the nanny saw my son crawl first! But now I’ve realised it doesn’t matter whether it’s his first, it will be my first seeing it whenever I see it . Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!

  5. So much guilt! Whatever you do … Ignore it as much as you can as there is no right or wrong way – just your way and as long as you’re all happy, that’s what counts 🙂

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