Recently, I’ve seen an abundance of “Working Mom Guilt” articles. I read them all and feel so thankful that I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to stay home to care for our daughter. From my perspective, any woman, or man for that matter, who can work full time and keep everyone at home alive and thriving is a saint in my book. My own mother worked full time as a nurse while also raising three kids at home. She ran our home like a well oiled machine. She cleaned and did laundry every morning before getting us up for school, got us all ready, got herself ready, sent us off to school, went to work ON TIME, pulled a full day’s work, came home just in time to make dinner, fed us, helped with homework, saw that we were all clean before putting us to bed and kissing us good night. I’m tired from just typing that! She never ever complained about having to work, but I am certain there were many days when she felt guilty about having to. Working moms feel guilty a lot! But here’s one that you might not have heard yet; so do stay at home moms. That’s right, working moms, you heard us right. We stay at home moms feel an incredible amount of guilt too. These are just a few reasons:
1. Money – When I was a working woman, money was never much of an issue. Now that we’re raising a family on just one income it is. And it feels like it’s all my fault! My husband and I agree that my staying home is best for our family, but it’s most certainly not what’s best for our wallet. Each time there’s something we need or want that will have to wait because the funds are too short, I feel the sting of our decision over and over. Because I’m not pulling my weight financially, we all sacrifice. I feel guilty!
2. My house is a wreck – “How can this be? You’re home all the time, part of your job is to keep it all together.” Guess what, I can’t. My laundry hasn’t been caught up since before my daughter was born. Having children in the house sometimes means multiple wardrobe changes a day. A cup of milk gets spilled; I clean it up just in time to see my daughter launching her breakfast across the room. I clean up that mess. Oh, a dirty diaper to change. Oh no, this one’s a blowout. It’s going to require a bath and a full wardrobe change. Now, I’ve got to get her some more milk since I spilled that last cup. She’s rubbing her eyes; it’s time for a nap. I get her to sleep and then I must shower because that blowout of a diaper wasn’t just confined to her body. An hour has passed and I haven’t done a single thing to change the fact that my house is a mess; I’ve only maintained its current state. Repeat all day long, and on an average day I might have done a single load of laundry, straightened up a bit, picked up the toys, and vacuumed all in a day’s work. At the end of every day, I would be mortified if visitors stopped by unexpectedly. But according to what we all expect by social norms, my house should be spotless. It’s not. I don’t have what it takes. I feel guilty! I venture to say that most stay at home moms, especially those with very young children are all nodding in agreement here.
3. Sometimes I wish I worked – Gasp! Yep, I said it. There are some days when I feel like I’ve had all I can take. When the baby is crying, the bills are piling up, I’ve been puked on 5 times, and I feel like I’ll die if I have to listen to Mickey Mouse’s obnoxious voice one more time, I have often thought, “If only I could just go to work.” But then, I remember how thankful I am to be able to be the sole caregiver of my daughter and how there are others who would die to be able to and then, I feel guilty!
4. I failed at teaching sign language – Ok yeah, that’s very specific, but it’s true. Along with writing down every single milestone in her baby book, and so much more. Ok, hear me out. This is another one of those, “But, you’re home all the time, so you should have time for that” ones. I meant to teach my daughter baby sign language. I forgot. Yes, I literally forgot. My intentions were good, but when it was time I was busy just surviving and getting us through each passing day that I forgot to sign as I was saying words. She’s now saying her own words and I didn’t succeed at teaching her a single sign. I meant to be one of those moms who documents every single life event so that in the future when we can no longer remember we could look back in a book and read it. But again, I got busy living and forgot to do so. I’ve already forgotten a lot. I should have made time for those things. I should have made myself remember, but it’s exhausting just making sure the “musts” are done and I forgot. I feel guilty!
5. Home cooked meals….sometimes – I think June Cleaver set us all up for failure, yet again. Dinner time rolls around just about the same time that my mommy energy is waning. I’ve been single parenting all day and frankly I’m tired, both mentally and physically. But, it’s my job to make sure we’re all well fed. Sometimes that means a home cooked meal, sometimes it’s a sandwich, sometimes it’s take out. I should be able to make a full meal every day. I do not. I feel guilty!
6. Did I use my time wisely? – With being a stay at home mom, there are sometimes those few quiet moments when the baby is asleep or playing independently. This means it’s decision time. Do I steal the few minutes of “Me” time I so desperately need, by reading a book or catching up on Facebook? Do I fold a couple loads of laundry? Do I pay the water bill? Do I go ahead and start dinner? Yes, even a few minutes of peace aren’t all that peaceful. I’ve got to utilize this time efficiently because it is so rare. But what is the best way to do so? Regardless of what I choose, there will be a sacrifice. I feel guilty!
7. Did I respond correctly? – Being a stay at home mom means that I do the vast majority of the correction. I fully admit by the 20th time of pulling my daughter away from something she shouldn’t have, my demeanor has gone from light but matter of fact, to cold and stern. Would I respond differently if I were a working mom? Would I not be as frustrated by these actions if I had been away from her all day? Could I handle the situation better if I were “fresh?” Probably so. I feel guilty!
8. Here, you take her! – When my husband calls each day to tell me he’s on his way home from work, I get a boost of adrenaline. His presence means two very exciting things to me: adult conversation and help! Both of which I’m badly in need of by the time the evening rolls around. One can only sing so many renditions of the Wheels on the Bus or say, “No! Leave that alone!” before they’re wishing for an adult to talk to. More so, when my husband’s home I know that means I can go to the bathroom without worrying that my whole world will come crashing down while I’m in there. He can watch her. He means another set of hands, eyes, ears and another play mate for the baby. I can have a break! But, he’s worked all day. He’s tired too. He shouldn’t have to work so much at home as well. I feel guilty!
9. I’m too tired for Pinterest crafts and the park – Ok, this one doesn’t apply to me yet, but it will. Being a stay at home mom means there should be time to do things like the latest and greatest Pinterest inspired hand print tree or play dates at the park. Sometimes though, what it really means is by the time there’s an opportunity to do those things, we moms are already too tired to muster the energy for it. We feel guilty!
You see there is so much guilt for all I cannot do and accomplish in one day. Just as working moms feel guilt for the time they don’t have at home to do the things they want to do. The moral of the story is that we all want to give our kids the very best we can muster. For each of us, our bests are different. So long as we are giving it our all, then that’s all we can ask of ourselves. Someone once told me, “Feeling guilty about what you can/can’t do for your kids proves that you care about them and that means that they already have everything they need.” I hope this is true. I also hope that although I may not have done things perfectly by my own standards, my kids think I did and look up to me, as I look up to my own mom.