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A different shade of working-mom guilt

Categories: child care


It’s a familiar scene: A mother drops off her child at daycare. She kisses him, tells him to be good and to have fun, and turns to the door with a convincing smile. But before she pulls out of the parking lot, and maybe even before she gets the key in the ignition, she’s a mess of tears. How can she leave her child with somebody else all day, day after day, while she goes to work?  What is she going to miss while she’s gone? Will her kid even miss her? What’s the emotional price of that extra paycheck? The guilt, oh the guilt.

Maybe this mom is you. Or maybe, like me, your guilt is made of entirely different stuff–stuff you don’t hear about as often because, even within the working-mom community, the overall sentiment is borderline taboo…

My guilt? It stems from the fact that when I leave my son for a full day at the office, I smile as I kiss him and turn to the door, and then I keep on smiling as I shut the door behind me, drive across town, and then tuck in at my computer for eight hours of glorious, uninterrupted adult time, during which I can eat a hot meal in one sitting, and the chances I’ll come in contact with another person’s bodily fluids hovers near 0 percent.

That’s right: I feel guilty that I love going to work. 

I think my situation is mitigated by three things: (1) I work outside the home only one day per week, (2) I leave my baby not with a nanny or daycare worker but with his father, and (3) I truly enjoy my job and find it fulfilling on a personal level (even moreso than on a monetary one). I imagine that if even one of those factors were taken away, I’d be less enthusiastic about my role as a work-away-from-home mom, but still, I can’t be the only one who feels guilty for not feeling guilty about going to work, not even a little. (And if I am alone in this, then shoot, that’s going to be grounds for even more guilt!)

I think the reason we don’t hear more about this shade of guilt is because those of us who experience it are afraid of being judged by the contingent of mothers who would without question rather be at home with their children full time. We’re socialized to think that mothers are supposed to be devoted to their children to the exclusion of all else, and if we work outside the home, we’re supposed to say it’s because we have to, not because we want to. We certainly shouldn’t admit that we look forward to our time on the clock as our time off from motherhood, true as that may sometimes be. 

So, every time someone asks me how it’s going, leaving my baby at home while I slave away in a desk chair, the more effusive (and truthful) my answer (”I love coming to work! I wouldn’t have it any other way!”), the worse I feel. It seems like all the other mothers I know are at least a little conflicted about leaving their children while they work; is there something wrong with me? Is it wrong that I revel in the days I get to leave the house in nice clothes, sporting a cute necklace and wearing my hair down with no fear I’ll suffer a regrettable yank before the day’s through? Am I a “bad” mother because I don’t spend my work days yearning to be at home covered in sweet potato mush? Is it strange that I find answering important business emails and making important business discussions during important business meetings far easier than entertaining a six-month-old hour after hour after hour? Should I be worried that I was horrified when my spouse brought up the possibility of me quitting my job to stay home with the baby in exchange for him working more hours?  

There seems to be plenty of discussion and support out there for mothers who feel guilty leaving their kids because they have to work (if that describes you, go here, here, or here for some sympathetic stories and advice), but I’d love to start a thread for mothers out there who love working, or who love going to work (a subtle difference but an important one), even to the point that they don’t feel a smidge of guilt about it (well, except for that whole thing about feeling guilty about not feeling guilty).

Anyone out there love going to work so much that, although you miss your kids, you don’t experience that classic working-mom guilt while you’re away? 

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46 comments so far...

  • I’ve got no guilt about going to work. My kid’s daycare is awesome, and I’m a better parent for being away from him for stimulating, adult time. I did the SAHM thing for the first six months and was bored, cranky, impatient, and frustrated. Now we’re both better off.

    Do I wish a part-time option existed? Absolutely. Do I wish we had more time during the day together? Definitely. Would I consider staying home with him full-time to have these things? Not in a second.

    There’s also the fact that I do meaningful work and I’m showing him that women are more than chef-chauffeur-maids catering to his every whim, we’re doing stuff that’s just as important as what Daddy does.

    Elizabeth  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 7:29 am

  • I recall my mom telling me: “it’s true I worked because I needed to financially, but I also needed to in order to save my sanity.” Being home all day with children, when your brain is used to contemplating things more intellectual than the quantity, quality, and timing of your child’s bowel movements - well, let’s say it gets old! I did it for 3 months and each time I got away even for an hour or two was like a new awakening. Being in a room full of business-minded adults! Priceless!

    I don’t feel guilty leaving my kids in another person’s care, but I do make it a point to give them lots of focused time when I’m not working. If I wasn’t able to give them several hours of my time each day, I would probably feel guilty. And jealous of the “caregivers.”

    Interesting, in a recent post here, there were several comments to the effect that I should be ashamed of hiring a nanny, because some other people wish they could afford to stay home with their kids. Not the most logical reasoning, I thought. So this made me wonder: what are the real feelings behind moms’ “guilt”? If you have “no choice” in the matter, then why feel guilty about it? If you have a choice, then why not own your choice and be proud of it? Are some moms still regretting the fairy tale that they could “do it all” and that they had to prioritize at all? Or are women programed to look for reasons to feel guilty no matter what they do?

    Best thing you can do for your baby is to be a happy mama, and to love the way he/she fits into your life.

    SKL  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 9:23 am

  • I went to graduate school to do what I do for a living. Lots of people didn’t believe me when I was pregnant and planning on returning to work. “Oh, you’ll change you’re mind.”

    Nope. Didn’t change my mind. A huge reason why I can leave my baby boy every day and not feel guilty is because I love the woman who takes care of him. His daddy and I spend as much time as we can on weeknights and weekends with him, and that works for our family.

    I love the fact that I work at a job that gives me personal fulfillment. And I know that I wouldn’t be happy staying at home. I made the choice to give my kid a happy momma that works outside the home as opposed to one that is with him constantly and resents it.

    Jen  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 am

  • I love our daycare lady and Theo ADORES her and the other kids. Even if I didn’t work he’d need to go there a few times a week for the stimuation–he gets bored and cranky with us on long weekends :-)

    I’m in a middle camp: when I’m home with him for days on end I wish I were at work. When I’m at work, I wish I were home with him.

    Nice huh? Not confusing at all!

    Ideally I’d love to not *have* to work. My dream would be to have a part-time job at a book store 5 hours a day 3X a week. THAT would be PERFECT. Mental stimulation with a sweet discount FTW!

    samantha jo campen  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  • I’m not a working mom, but I feel your pain. I think with motherhood, comes guilt! I was so in need of a break a few weeks ago, that i was elated to go to the dentist!

    Krissy  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  • I know EXACTLY how you feel. I don’t necessarily love to go to work, but I definitely like my adult time and know that I wouldn’t function well otherwise. I do, often, feel the classic working mom guilt but when I don’t, I feel guilty for not:) It sounds so silly when I just wrote it out, but it’s the reality.

    Nataly  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 6:07 pm

  • I LOVE going to my office. I may not always love my JOB with the burning fire of a thousand loving sons, but I LOVE going to work and doing non-kid stuff and talking with adults and wearing heels and hey, earning money. No guilt whatsoever.

    My kids go to daycare, too, and guess what? THEY love it. Riley is in preschool at this point, and he can’t get enough — and my 16 MO spends his days being cuddled by awesome teachers, playing with a million toys we don’t have at home, and interacting with other kids.

    I’m not sure what we’ll do when they’re in school — I’d prefer to be the one picking them up and fixing them snacks, etc — but for now, me working outside the home 3 days a week is a wonderful balance.

    Well, except for my commute. Can’t have everything, I guess.

    Linda  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 7:43 pm

  • Fleh. Loving SUNS. SUUNNSSS, not sons.

    Linda  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 7:51 pm

  • I’ve been home on maternity leave since March 15. I go back to work July 1. My partner will stay home with our baby boy. I can’t wait!

    This is my third child though, so my situation is a little different. I stayed at home with my other two. However, if I had had an involved partner at that time (my older boys have a different father), then I think I would have gladly gone to work instead of staying at home.

    I love my boys, but previously I had a difficult time loving them full-time. I lost myself as a stay-at-home-mom. I know myself better now.

    Kim W.  |  June 3rd, 2009 at 8:45 pm

  • Thank you for this. Like you, I leave my daughter with my husband - before she’s even awake each day - but I don’t feel guilty about it at all. And I secretly look forward to business trips too. For these things, I sometimes feel like The World’s Worst Mother.

    But the strange part is, I still miss the hell out of both baby and husband when I’m at work and there is part of me that dreads the thought of being away from home for a week.

    Phe  |  June 4th, 2009 at 3:55 am

  • Judgment seems to be a common theme among women: we are afraid of being judged as “bad” mothers, and we judge other mothers for their choices. I married into motherhood (my stepdaughter was 10 at the time), and work from home, so I don’t have some of the issues related to working mothers’ guilt. But I do think that it’s healthy for kids to learn that they are not the center of the universe at an early age — that parents have responsibilities and lives outside parenthood; and that socializing with other kids — exposing them to different ways of living — cannot happen if kids live in a stay-at-home bubble. Feeling guilty, or “feeling guilty about NOT feeling guilty,” as Leah puts it, really is unproductive, when you get right down to it.

    Jeannie  |  June 4th, 2009 at 5:19 am

  • As a new mom of a now 3 1/2 month old, I love your blog! I have enjoyed reading all of your recent posts. I currently work full time away from the home and this post completely resonates with me! We leave our little guy with a great friend down the road, who also has a little boy (20 months), so I know my baby is getting great care, attention and socialization. I would love it MORE if I could work from home part time and have an in-home nanny, but I still don’t terribly mind the situation as it is.

    I have definitely felt guilty for not feeling guilty.

    Kate  |  June 4th, 2009 at 6:35 am

  • I don’t always love my JOB, but I absolutely love going to work and interacting with other adults everyday. By the end of my three month maternity leave, I was SO ready to step out of babyland and rejoin the working world again. I love my daughter to pieces but I know I’m not SAHM material. I think I’m doing more for her as a happy, working mom!

    Amanda  |  June 4th, 2009 at 7:30 am

  • Guilt is highly overrated.

    Robyn  |  June 4th, 2009 at 7:48 am

  • Hi Leah, that’s a great topic and a well written blog. I agree with you in a sense that I also like going back to work on Monday after a weekend of being focused just on my son and I also was lucky to leave my son with my partner when I went back to work full time. However, as you mentioned, should you have a 5 day full time job at the office instead of one, and being away from your growing child all the time, and not being sure of quality of his care because he is so tiny and can’t talk and cries as you leave him at day care - that would have been a completely different conversation. Now, that my child is getting closer to four, I feel much better about leaving him at daycare, that’s actually being run by his grandmother. But even then there are days when he might not be feeling well, or just misses me more than usual and I feel small pangs of guilt that I can’t just take a few days of out of the blue and spend them with him….going back to work after of course.

    Maria  |  June 4th, 2009 at 7:49 am

  • Nope, almost never. On rare days I mope and miss her, but usually I know she’s fine, she’s having fun with Nana (her grandmother, which makes this so much easier on me because I know her caregiver well) and I really like my job.
    I like the adult conversation, the creative outlet it gives me, and the sense of purpose I feel when I’m at work (I’m a K-5 music teacher and choir director). Heck, I like not having to wipe anybody’s nose for 8 hours!
    I’d even say I just like having a real reason to get out of the house every work day.
    I cherish weekends and I’m looking forward to summer very much (hubby is a teacher too, we save up $ all year so we can be vacationing at home together all summer).
    I don’t even really feel that guilt about not feeling guilt anymore.
    I don’t know how it will be when I have baby #2, because my at-home attention will be divided, and that will be a matter of leaving an infant, not a 2 year-old.

    Meg  |  June 4th, 2009 at 8:16 am

  • I thought I was the only one who felt this way! I am so glad to hear that there are other moms that do, too. I have friends who feel sad everyday leaving their kids but I don’t. He loves his preschool and even if I was a SAHM I would take him there. He loves playing with the other kids. I mean, he likes to play with me but it doesn’t come close to playing with the friends he has at school. They even run and hug him when he comes in the door. Aside from that, I can get things done without someone fussing. He is almost two and after school yesterday, he spent nearly two hours throwing a tantrum that started because he didn’t want to get in his car seat after the grocery store. I can only go through this so many hours a day without going insane.

    Oceans Mom  |  June 4th, 2009 at 8:20 am

  • one day a week? of course you don’t have guilt! hahah!
    honestly, I love working. I love coming into an office every day and being able to pee alone and eat my lunch and answer emails and have ADULT conversation. and I don’t feel guilty that I love it.
    what I have issues with is that with three kids there are always dentist appointments and doctor appointments and first-grade graduations and plays and carpool and playdates and all sorts of stuff that becomes difficult when you are in an office every day from 8-4.
    i’m going to be working freelance from home next year and i’m really excited about it. but i’m sure i will miss being able to go to the office!

    ali  |  June 4th, 2009 at 8:34 am

  • Oh, you guys, I feel so much better seeing comments from people who know exactly what I mean. One comment that particularly resonated was Kim W.’s: “I had a difficult time loving [my kids] full-time.” I’d never thought about it in quite those terms (maybe because it’s just the sort of thing people would judge me for), but I really think she’s on to something, not to mention brave for saying it out loud (er…writing it down in public). It IS hard for some of us to be Mommy all the time, but the sooner we can recognize that in ourselves, the sooner we can do something about it, whether that’s going to work or planning a regular night out with friends or just taking a long bath with the door locked.

    Leah K  |  June 4th, 2009 at 10:08 am

  • A bath or shower with the door shut sounds great! I can’t evne take a shower without crying and banging on the door or my little one trying to climb in the shower with me. He screams bloody murder when dad tried to pry him from my side so I can get ready for work. The only time he runs off and is very happy to do so is at preschool.

    Oceans Mom  |  June 4th, 2009 at 11:32 am

  • I wish everyone would just own their choices, like someone said here earlier, and let go of the guilt of any kind.

    I’m tired of moms lamenting to me that they feel guilty about working but they have no other choice, because I made the choice to stay home and I’m pretty sure many of them could actually stay home if they truly wanted to (and were willing to make the sacrifices necessary.) I’m tired of moms who work and say they’re 100% happy about it but then make subtle digs at me for being a SAHM (i.e., I’m going to lose my career, my brain cells must be atrophying, how can I be fulfilled by playing at the park and building block towers, I’m not modeling feminism to my daughters, I’m wasting my graduate education, caring for children and managing a household all day long is not really “work”, etc. etc. etc.), which suggests to me that deep down inside they’re actually NOT 100% happy with their choice to work (or they wouldn’t feel the need to slam others who are staying home). I’m tired of SAHMs feeling guilty for “not contributing” to the household, when in actuality they’re contributing more than one could count, in myriad ways though not through a paycheck.

    So sick of all the guilt. Why should ANY of us feel guilty, whether we’re working, staying home, or some of each? My family’s not yours, yours isn’t mine, therefore we can never say what situation is right for one another (or how each other should feel).

    I say, celebrate your choices! Be OK with them. We all have pros and cons to your work/family lives, no matter what choices we’ve made, right?

    Shannon  |  June 4th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  • Shannon–That’s just it. You say “We all have pros and cons to our work/family lives, no matter what choices we’ve made,” and I think that’s what people are talking about here. Just because we’ve made a choice, and even if we really are 100 percent secure in that choice, doesn’t mean there aren’t still some low points to every situation. I don’t know one stay-at-home OR full-time-working mother who would deny that sometimes the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. Making choices that work best for our families doesn’t mean we can’t still feel conflicted about them, or even just complain about them once in a while. That would be like saying people who intentionally had children are never allowed to complain about them, which is ridiculous.

    Leah K  |  June 4th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

  • This is PRECISELY how my experience of coming back to work one day a week has gone. I expected to be all torn up, but actually? I’m enjoying it. I look forward to it. Sure, I miss the baby, but it’s nice to have a change of pace, you know?

    Of course, there was the COMPLETE STRANGER I talked to a few weeks ago (she had a 6-month-old) who asked about my work situation, and when I told her I was coming back one day a week for a while before coming back full time, she said, “Oh, that’s AWFUL.” And then I slapped her. The end.

    Jive Turkey  |  June 5th, 2009 at 6:13 am

  • Leah, to clarify–

    Of course. I would never say anyone shouldn’t complain or commiserate–I do it all the time! But I really do feel we women do ourselves and each other a disservice when we allow ourselves to become mired in guilt–whichever form of guilt each of us has. I wish for ALL of us–working, home, working AND home, etc.!–that we could let go of the guilt. No more guilt for working, no more guilt for not working. Life is too short!

    Shannon  |  June 5th, 2009 at 6:28 am

  • Leah, in support of Shannon: everyone cribs sometimes about things they’re overall satisfied with. But we women go way beyond that. By saying “I have no choice,” we allow ourselves to be alienated from our choices and our right to choose our path. Many of us go a step further and say that because “we” are being “forced” to do what in fact we chose, nobody else is allowed to feel good about making that same choice. (Can you imagine a male colleague making a similar comment about, say, choosing a job involving business travel?) And the fact that we have so many posts on this site, including the present one, that focus on guilt and judgment over a mother’s choice to share child care with someone else, proves that this is an integral aspect of the working mom community. And in my opinion, this just isn’t healthy. I’ll go one step further and say it isn’t valid. You can’t be both powerless and guilty about the same thing.

    SKL  |  June 5th, 2009 at 8:31 am

  • SKL–Again, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head without even knowing it. You say we “can’t be both powerless and guilty about the same thing,” and I think that’s part of where some of the working mom guilt comes from. It’s precisely because we’re NOT powerless that we question and constantly reevaluate our individual situations (which I think is a good thing). If we HAD to work, we are in essence absolved of guilt because it’s not our fault. It’s when we don’t have to work but choose to that we find ourselves in full responsibility for our decisions, which oftentimes involves some critical self-examination.

    But…what I’m talking about here is not women who feel guilty for working or women who feel guilty for not working. I’m talking about women who DON’T feel guilty for working (and then maybe feel guilty about their lack of guilt). And as Nataly said in her comment, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense when we think about it rationally, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a true and valid experience for many people (both men and women). And although we can certainly choose (to a certain extent depending on our circumstances) how to act upon our feelings, we can’t always choose what those feelings will be. We can choose not to become mired in guilt and let it affect our feelings of self-worth, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still feel the pang of guilt every now and then.

    Leah K  |  June 5th, 2009 at 9:34 am

  • yes, I think your feeling this way because you work out of the home ONE day a week.
    The other 6 days you are full time mommy duty.
    Would like to hear from FULL TIME working moms such as myself.

    debr  |  June 5th, 2009 at 12:03 pm

  • YES! Thank you for your wonderful article. You just described me! But I work full-time… I don’t even think one day a week would be enough. Yes, I feel guilty for going to work, yes I feel guilty for enjoying going to work. The secret’s out!!

    Natalie  |  June 5th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

  • Leah, I just don’t understand why we as women go looking for guilt. I made a choice and am happy with it BUT - should I feel guilty for being happy?

    I came to a basic realization maybe 15 years ago: not only is it not “wrong” to be happy, but it is our DUTY to find happiness. It can ONLY help every person in our lives. I believe that if humans have a purpose in being alive, e.g., if you believe God put you here for a purpose, that purpose can’t be to be miserable. It has to include being happy.

    You can’t find happiness if you actively look for guilt every time you start getting that dangerous feeling that happiness might be on the horizon.

    If the guilt served a purpose, I could see the point. But it does nothing but hold us back.

    When you step back and look at American moms’ endless pursuit of guilt, it seems almost cultish. Let’s break free!

    SKL  |  June 5th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

  • SKL–I totally agree. But I don’t think most people go through their lives “looking for guilt.” I certainly don’t. Sometimes it’s just something that crops up, and when it’s not something we ever expected, I think it’s natural to want to reflect on that. No one’s saying guilt is good or necessary to being a mother–we’re just saying that it IS. And sometimes acknowledging it is the first step to letting it go!

    Leah K  |  June 5th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

  • I work full time and commute 2 hrs/day to do it. I don’t have to work–in fact my work pays taxes and childcare. But I love going to work and I love my job. I resonated with much of what you said. I feel guilty that I *don’t* feel guilty about leaving my kids every day. We have a nanny, the girls go to preschool, regular library and play dates. They are busy, happy, silly almost-3 year olds.
    Weekends that I have the kids by myself from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, I am reminded how bad I’d be as a full time Stay At Home Mom. I adore my children, but I like them in chunks of time of 5 hours or less before a break. LOL
    Judge me if you will, but this is what works for me and my family.

    spacegeek  |  June 5th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

  • I have a 9 yr and a 22 month old. I felt no guilt for working when my son was younger and I feel no guilt about leaving my daughter at daycare to go to work .I just recently returned to work after being home with her for about a year and a half. I think it is much easier to forego all the guilt when you know that they are at daycare or with someone you trust and having a good time. The guilt I feel is when my son has awards at school that I am unable to attend, or when I have to cancel a parent/teacher conference because there is no one to cover me at work. Truly there is green grass on both sides of the fence, as well as dead patches.

    Dianna  |  June 6th, 2009 at 1:32 pm

  • Leah, I’m right there with you, sister. I work three days a week and man, do I cherish those days. There’s nothing like feeling like your own person a few days a week. I love my kids, but in order to handle it all, I need my own thing going on. If you click on my name, you can read an article I wrote about a day at home I so wished I had gone to work. Don’t feel guilty about working and certainly don’t feel guilty about not feeling guilty!

    Kami Lewis Levin  |  June 8th, 2009 at 9:39 am

  • I think sometimes I label it guilt when it isn’t really. When my daughter was a baby I felt bad for not wanting to stay home, like part of me felt I ’should’ feel. It is actually somewhat harder for me to go to work now that she is 2 since I love this age so much. Currently my husband is at home with her for the short term and I find myself jealous that he is getting to do things with her that I can’t. I think that is it for me. I want to work and I don’t feel bad about that I am just trying to figure out how to feel like I have enough time to enjoy her too. She has been happy and content with all of the situations we have had her in - so that hasn’t been a big issue.

    Stacey S  |  June 10th, 2009 at 5:31 am

  • I have to agree with a couple others who wonder why you think you are supposed to feel guilty for working ONE day a week. I am… dismayed that you would compare your feelings (of guilt or lack thereof) to that of a full-time working mom. I bet if you worked five days a week and left your kid in daycare rather than with his father, you would feel that “classic” working-mom guilt more frequently.

    I choose to work, mainly for financial reasons but partly because I’m just not SAHM material; I like my job. Some days are fine but some days it’s really hard for me to think about her being with someone else all day long.

    slm  |  June 10th, 2009 at 8:57 am

  • To clarify, I only work OUTSIDE THE HOME one day a week. I work INSIDE the home another twelve hours per week at my regular job, plus another five to ten hours each week on various freelance projects. And as I’ve written before, I actually think working at home is much harder than working in an office for me.

    I, for one, am dismayed that in a forum like this–a forum of working moms of all different kinds–that anyone would judge someone else for their arrangement, or say that one way of being a working mom is harder than another across the board. We all have our struggles, we all know what works and what doesn’t for our families, and we all deserve to be respected if not also supported.

    Leah K  |  June 10th, 2009 at 9:43 am

  • I’ve done it all, and I’ve felt varying levels of guilt and satisfaction in all circumstances.

    First I worked part time - mostly at home, but traveled (out of town) one or two days a week - when my kids were babies and toddlers. We had a full-time day nanny, and my husband and I coordinated our travel schedules carefully so one of us was always in town. I felt guilt that I was not the one taking the kids to the park. I felt guilt that I was only working part-time and not earning more money. I liked working and found it satisfying. I burst into tears when I traveled and had to pour breast milk down the drain of an airplane bathroom sink.

    Then I stayed home full-time for 8 years. We still had some daytime nanny help. I felt guilty that I was “wasting” my Ivy League education. I felt guilty that I was spending money on a nanny when I wasn’t working. I felt guilty that I didn’t spend more time with my second son while he was a baby, because I was spending some time doing grownup fun things and some time with my older son, who was more aware of my absences. I was grateful that we had a wonderful nanny so I could get my nails done occasionally. I was bored a lot of the time.

    Now I’m back to work full-time in an office. My husband is working part-time and takes care of the boys after school. I love my job. I love thinking about things other than carpool and what’s for dinner (although admittedly I think a lot about that anyway, as I write a couple of food blogs). I feel guilt when I miss things like my older son’s matriculation ceremony. I feel guilt when I am not there in the afternoon to hear about my older son’s girl problems, and by the time I get home he’s over it. I feel guilt when I have a dinner meeting and only get home in time to say goodnight.

    Nothing’s perfect.

    Erika Kerekes  |  June 11th, 2009 at 9:05 am

  • I love working and not having the anxiety that comes with reucing the income, adult conversation, feeling that I am valued for something other than an ability to keeping a clean home. I don’t get the feed back for a job well done at home like I do at the office. I am just not a martyr. My problem is that I make almost twice what my teacher-husband makes. He isn’t moving from the hometown where he grew up. So I have an apt in DC and commute home 4hrs each way on weekends. I also take days off from work to be home for important concerts, promotions etc.
    There just aren’t any jobs for my specialty at home. I can’t take time away and still get back in the work force at a reasonable level. If he moves he is unhappy if I move I am unhappy. My son is the one that is in the middle.

    Everyone thinks that I am the horrible one. If I were a man with a job requiring travel no one would say a word. THey would all think that I had a really good job. It would really be easier for him to move but being a good wife I am trying to meet everyone’s needs. A tough job this day and time

    hanna42  |  June 11th, 2009 at 9:52 am

  • Thank you. Thank you. I just started work 3 weeks ago after 9 months off with my new son. I am struggling with having to give up SAHM things, like my playgroup with girlfriends, a cleaner house, exercising frequently, etc. But I DON’T FEEL GUILTY about going to work. I wish his daycare was better, and I might look for a new one. But I don’t feel guilty and enjoy the challenges in the workplace. I’ve been considering increasing my hours (I’m only 75%), and reading so many women say, I like working, makes me think, if the work is rewarding, then working full-time can be a good family decision. It’s the transition that makes it tough.

    CB  |  June 11th, 2009 at 5:43 pm

  • I am only commenting because I am extremely disgusted @ the number of “guilt” articles on Work it Mom.

    Seriously - type the word “guilt” into the search window & see for yourself.

    Uhura!  |  June 16th, 2009 at 10:29 am

  • I love to go to work and feel no guilt that I do. I love my children beyond reason, but I am simply not a good mother if I stay home with them all the time. I’m just not enough fun.

    We chose a home-based daycare because we wanted a care provider who could be a second mom to him and give him the kind of love and care I want for him. His life is more enriched because of it. I believe in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child and that children need more than one or two adults who can make a difference in their lives.

    My oldest son has flourished in daycare, he’s busy, challenged and enjoys his friends. He learns about sharing and compromise in a way that he wouldn’t have to at home.

    I go to work and can be stimulated in the way that I need to be, so that I can help to provide for my family financially AND so that I can give my children opportunities they wouldn’t have if I didn’t work (such as travel).

    I could go on and one about why this works for us.

    Christine LaRocque  |  June 17th, 2009 at 8:26 am

  • I also like going to work, assuming I like the job, I would even look forward to Mondays (the horror!) because it meant that I could sit calmly at my desk and drink coffee at its correct temperature. As long as my kids were in good hands (babysitter, school) I felt ok about it. I was also lucky enough to not have to work late or travel.

    Liann  |  June 18th, 2009 at 9:17 am

  • I work full-time - Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. My 10 month old son stays home with my husband. So of course I don’t feel too much guilt. We have been doing this arrangment since I returned to work eight months ago. The women who have a choice are fortunate enough just to have the choice. My husband has been unemployed for a year now, so I have to work. Also, I have a J.D. and would not want to put it to waste.

    I am amazed at my husband. The rare times that I have taken care of our son alone have been not been easy. I don’t know how he does it everyday. He doesn’t do any chores, though, and said he wouldn’t be able to change a girl’s diaper. My husband wishes he can work and be out of the house. That would be ideal if we can take turns!

    I do wish I can work less but I can’t because I only get paid hourly and only make about $22K/yr. Our son stays up until about 2 a.m. to 4 a.m., so I get very little sleep.

    This arrangement is wonderful for our son because he stays at home with a parent. Why should it matter whether it’s his mother or father?

    wifenmom  |  July 21st, 2009 at 7:36 am

  • I worked every year of my kids’ lives, starting with the week after their arrivals (we adopted both of our kids). We made the decision for my husband to stay home instead. This isn’t the same as dropping the kids at daycare (although we did that, too, a couple of days a week), but I wasn’t the primary caregiver. I never felt guilty - but I sure felt like I was missing out on the fun. That, however, is more a function of my less-than-perfect job than our life choices.

    Great post, thanks!

    Margie  |  August 25th, 2009 at 5:27 am

  • I am pregnant so I don’t know for a FACT that will be me…….but I imagine it will. That’s who my mom is. That’s who I am. I mean, when I left for school she turned my bedroom into a workout room. My feelings were not hurt. I know she loves me, she just *gasp* has a life outside of me. I personally think it’s quite healthy. It makes for a well adjusted child to have a mother who has some joy in her life that isn’t being a mother.

    Ramona  |  March 7th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

  • great post I totally agree. I never see my mother.

    Tommy Lee  |  September 10th, 2010 at 11:23 am