I pride myself on being a reliable employee. I meet deadlines, I produce high-quality products, and I aim to be one those people who makes my coworkers’ jobs easier rather than harder. Since becoming a mother, I’ve also worked extra hard to make sure that my status as a family woman doesn’t make me a liability in the workforce. And it’s precisely the fact that I try so hard in that area that makes it so difficult when I (inevitably?) fail. Working-mom guilt? I was prepared for that. But the career-related guilt that results from being a working mom is something new.
I’m out of town staying with family this week, and my brain dove so eagerly and deeply into vacation mode that I worry I’m not even fully aware of what responsibilities I’m letting slide. In making sure the swimsuits and toothbrushes were packed for this trip, I forgot my camera connector cord (hence no new craft posts) and my stack of to-do lists, and spending the first few days of my time off sprawled on the lawn licking popsicle drips for the kids meant I didn’t check my email for an obscene amount of time. (We’re talking days, not hours.) Right now I’m locked in an upstairs bedroom answering emails and typing this article while my sons build an elaborate blanket fort with my parents. I hope they’re taking photos.
I know a lot of working parents who find it difficult to let go of the office and just be in the moment with their families, but I don’t seem to have that problem. It’s awesome for my kids, but also a little embarrassing on the career side of things. As for all that stuff about Leaning In, and about my personal responsibility to make sure the women’s movement isn’t set back thirty years because I don’t feel as ambitious about my career as I did before I had a family…I mostly try to ignore that in favor of figuring out what works best for me in my unique situation. This week it looks like one hand on the laptop and one foot in the kiddie pool.
Have you experienced career guilt since becoming a mother?