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The guilt of a working mom

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On Sunday, we honored our mothers. We thanked these women for making us who we are today, for sacrificing so much to help us succeed. It’s an important day that means so much more to me now in these last few years since becoming a mother.

As a working mom, there are tough days where we struggle with the balance of wondering if we spend too much time at work and not enough time at home. If my baby crawls with the babysitter instead of in front of me – have I failed in some way?  If I don’t volunteer in my second-grade daughter’s classroom enough – have I failed her as well?

Then, there’s the flip side that working moms struggle with. If my child is sick and I stay home with him - have I failed at work? Am I going to be judged for choosing my child over my job that day?

I know I am not the first mom to ask myself these questions. I certainly won’t be the last. The problem is we don’t know what the right answers are.

My own mother worked when I was young, after my dad’s business became successful. She was always cooking, cleaning and caring for us. For some reason, I decided early that I would not be like that. I would have a career. I would not be a stay-at-home mom. No way.

However, now that I have three wonderful children, I understand why she stayed home. I understand the pleasure she got out of what her career was. She was a professional mom, and deserved just as much credit for the work she did everyday, as say I do when I put out a newspaper every week.

Still, back to the question of guilt for us working moms. At the end of the day, we make it all work because that is who we are. We want to be nurturing at home when the infant needs us. We want to be successful.

However, despite achieving that balance, we are still hard on ourselves. We still feel guilty – almost daily.

So, for all you working moms out there, I leave you with a list I found in an article written by a contributor to forbes.com. This list of reasons why we shouldn’t feel so guilty, why we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.

Accept trade offs as the inevitable – As writer Margie Warrell put it in her 2013 article, when you choose to combine motherhood and career in any way, there has to be trade offs.

Don’t “should” yourself – Meaning our “shoulds” are often compiled of a list of social expectations, family pressures and unfair rules we put on ourselves.

Lower your bar to “good enough” – Too often we set such high standards for ourselves that meeting the goals are hardly ever met. Instead, I recommend strong advice I got after having my son. If that load of laundry sits for a couple of days while you play with your children after work, then so be it.

Refuse to buy into guilty mongers – This means avoiding those parent police who want to judge how others are doing their jobs, rather than just focusing on their own. Your parenting is your own and letting others make you feel bad for your decisions is in no way helpful.

Don’t dilute presence with distraction – This is probably the most important piece of advice the article provided. When you are with your children, remember to be fully present. Leave work behind and focus on what you are doing with your family.

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