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I cover up my working mom guilt with cooking, what about you?

Categories: Balancing Act, Working Women Issues


woman-cooking.jpgLast night I was exhausted by 8pm, which was annoying, since that’s when the second half of my working day begins. It was a more stressful Monday than usual because my grandmother had surgery in the morning — all is OK for now, fingers crossed — and I’d spent a lot of time on the phone talking with various members of my family, calming them down and pretending to be calm myself. Pretending takes a lot of energy.

I had a bunch of work to get done but he first thing I did was to make dinner for the next two days. I cook several times a week for the days ahead — our schedule isn’t conducive to cooking-right-before-eating, at least not during the week. As I was stirring the tomato soup and making sure the turkey-tofu meatloaf wasn’t burning in the oven (it has this soy glaze on it that I swear, burns half the time I make it), my husband asked why our daughter can’t just have a grilled cheese for dinner tomorrow. His point was that I had a tough day and a lot of work, and the world wasn’t going to crumble if there wasn’t a fresh, nutritionally balanced meal on the table.

The world wasn’t going to crumble. But I would feel worse. Because something I’ve realized this year is that for me, cooking fresh meals for our family is a way to cover up my working mom guilt. It’s the one thing I always find time to do and I love knowing that my family can count on it. Sure, we have our share of pizza/Indian/Chinese/random food from the fridge nights, but most of the time, there is a freshly cooked meal for my daughter and at least some part of it for us.

I know I am not supposed to feel any kind of working mom guilt, but I do. It’s the reality and I honestly think most moms, working or stay-at-home, feel some sense of guilt. (If you are someone who doesn’t, I envy you, but I’ve not met you.) I’m learning to accept it, instead of trying to fight it or eliminate it, because frankly, that was exhausting. And accepting it involves doing a few things that make me feel it less acutely — like cooking.

Does this sound just totally odd to you or do you do things to cover up your working mom guilt?

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5 comments so far...

  • i think that sounds totally rational! this is why i dont obsess about cleaning. i rationalize that i am spending precious quality time with my son and husband! Though it also backfires and then i and up in i-can’t-take-it-anymore-this-house-is-a-mess-and-must-be-cleaned-up-righ- now mode. But at least that freak out just teaches everyone how to keep things neater and not as dirty during the inbetween periods. or so i rationalize.
    we all have some guilt that we can’t be everywhere at once! i am just not up for all the crazy cooking so i buy organic ‘healthy’ packaged foods for the family. they like it and i feel less guilty for not cooking. haha!

    Kate  |  May 13th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

  • I think I really get this. For me, it’s both cleaning and cooking :-). Well, it’s cooking for the nights when the kids are with us, anyway. Our schedule isn’t really conducive to cooking-right-before-eating most nights either, so I try to prepare at least part of the meal ahead of time; if my husband gets home with the kids before I do, he can get it started.

    But on the nights when the kids are with their mom, I really don’t worry about cooking for just my husband and me - so that tells me it’s definitely a “mom” thing.

    Florinda  |  May 13th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

  • I cook dinner every night. For me it’s not about the mommy guilt - its about spending quality time together around the table. There are days when we eat scrambled eggs and toast for dinner - but it is homemade, healthy enough, and we are all together.

    I used to pride myself on doing it all - cooking, cleaning, laundry, drop-offs and pick-ups, plus working. It was WAY to much. So now we have a weekly housekeeper who keeps the house in order, I’ve enlisted help with family for daycare pick-ups, and we all pitch in for the laundry.

    Cooking for me is a stress reducer. It helps calm me in the evening - even when I appear stressed about getting dinner on the table. I’ve learned to mealplan for the week, make faster meals on nights I’m in the office and save my casseroles for days I’m working from home.

    Robyn  |  May 13th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

  • I don’t find this odd. You have identified a priority and sticking to it, I think it’s very admirable.

    That said, it’s an eye opening observation as you have just made me realize that my biggest payout for having meals on the table and keeping the house in order is exactly that - it does relieve mom guilt.

    Funny, I never realized it before, although the bottom line is that as moms, if the basics such as healthy meals and taking care of the home aren’t looked after, we should feel guilt (not that we need to be Martha, but it’s easy these days to get caught up in other stuff and forget the basics, been there, done that)

    Jan - queenofkaos  |  May 16th, 2008 at 6:11 am

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