I am a working mom. My love for my work and my gratitude for being able to get up every day and do what I love is only marred by the guilt that comes with my choice to not be with my children 100% of the time.
I have chosen this. I suppose I could argue that in some ways it chose me, but I think that that the journey to reconciling my mommy guilt with my desire to pursue my personal dreams involves owning this decision. Truth is, every day I wake up to two little faces who think that their father and myself are the absolute bee’s knees. They trust us wholeheartedly. I am overwhelmingly aware that our decisions today have far-reaching implications for their lives tomorrow.
And so, I need to be okay with my decisions. In fact, more than okay, I need to believe that the path I have chosen of integrating raising my children and building our family business right now is the best road for us as a family. I also need to lead my children with a resolute confidence that we are going somewhere together and that it is good.
I’m figuring this out, the mommy guilt persists. I am learning however that I need to differentiate between feelings of responsibility and the burden of guilt. Guilt is never a good feeling, it brings shame. It makes us feel the need to justify our very existence. Responsibility is a constant reminder to not forsake an assigned mission, it pushes us to fulfill our call. I have been assigned two little people who need me right now in many ways. They need me to meet their basic needs and they need me to guide them in an understanding of the world around them, to love and nurture them and give them the best possible start to lives that will progress into adulthood.
Meeting basic needs is the easy part. Remaining available and emotionally healthy enough to respond optimally to the needs of small children is the difficult part. Have you ever felt like you are actually losing your marbles because you don’t feel like you have anything more to give? It’s okay to feel this, but not really okay to go ahead and lose your marbles (especially when you are with your children). This is where an awareness of our own feelings and needs becomes important and where we need to let go of the guilt that tells us we are not good enough.
This is my personal resolution: Do I feel like I would be giving my children 100% of me if I chose to give them 100% of my time? No. Is it difficult to give 100% of me to my children for a bit of the time every day? Yes. Am I willing to do this? Yes.
And taking this a step further: Do I feel like the woman / mother / entrepreneur / writer / dreamer that I am when I offer myself to them in my full capacity is a gift to them? Yes – but the mommy guilt still shouts, “you are not with them all the time, you are not doing enough, would it not be better if you gave it all up?”
I have a choice to make as to what I will believe.
Are you a mom who also works outside of the home? How do you deal with these feelings? I would love to hear from you in the comments below. And look out for part two of this article where I will explore some practical ways to find balance as a working mom and ensure that our children are getting 100% of us some of the time.