Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting Over the Guilt

The other day, as I dropped off my three-year-old, Connor, at daycare, his best buddy, Dean, came in with his mommy. Dean was having a hard morning and didn’t want his mommy to leave. As he was crying, Connor walked over and said, “It’s okay, Dean, my mommy works, too.”

My chest swelled up. My first thought was, “I have the most precious boy; he is such a sweet friend,” Then that all-too-familiar guilt started to creep in. He wouldn’t have to say that if I were a stay at home mom.

But I’m not. I’m a working mom. And it has been a struggle to get to the point where I am proud of that title. Not only am I proud of it, I own it, because I am so over the guilt. The working mom vs. stay at home mom guilt has eaten up way too much of my mind these past three years. So, instead of letting the internal battle continue, I’ve decided to embrace the finality of my decision in this area and get on with my life, without regret.

I’m a working mom. I used to hide behind it when people asked if I worked, and I would tell them, “I barely work full time” or “Well, yes...but I’m in education, so I get off three months a year.” Eventually, I just stopped making excuses and started claiming my decision.

And that release of guilt felt so good. I just don’t have the mental energy any longer to care if I’m a working mom and you choose to be a stay at home mom. You do you, and I’ll do me.

But I haven’t always felt this way. Thinking back, I wanted to be a stay at home mom because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Yet, I was never certain that staying home was the right choice for me. While I’d love to wear workout attire all day, I couldn’t completely see myself in the role of a stay at home mom where I bragged to my social media friends when I {finally} got to take a shower and put makeup on. I also knew that I needed more adult conversation in my day than being a stay at home mom could give me. By choosing to stay home, I wouldn’t be using that college education my mom paid for. And if I wasn’t working, why did I even bother going to college? What a waste.

But I still badgered my husband about it on occasion, and went as far as to make a spreadsheet of our finances telling him that if we gave up this and that, we could make it work. I could stay home. He was never convinced and, on a deeper level, I think he knew I wouldn’t be happy staying home.

Yet, I continued to wrestle with the guilt. I loved my job, but shouldn’t I want to stay home and change every diaper, wipe every snotty nose and kiss every boo-boo? After all, “these are the only years they are home all day every day” people told me, oftentimes while passing judgment. Wasn’t I failing majorly as a mom because I didn’t stay home with them?


No, I am not failing at all because I work. In fact, I think I’m a better mom because I work. I am much more intentional about my time with my kids. I get my errands done during my lunch break and immediately after work so that my evenings and weekends are completely devoted to them. I wait to do “me” things until after bedtime or during naps.

It helps that I happen to love the preschool my kids are at {and not only because it’s on-site}. I think they are so prepared for elementary. I can’t wait until Connor takes his Pre-Kindergarten admissions exam next year and absolutely aces it because he has been in a preschool his whole life. I can imagine the pride I will feel because I know I did the right thing for him by getting him a headstart on his education. If he were at home with me the majority of the time, I don’t think he’d be nearly as smart {although I’d give it my best effort, I’m sure!} because I’d be loading him up and running him all over Houston for playdates and Target trips. And is that really the best thing for him?

Listen, I’m all about my kids, my family, my friends, my church - and my JOB. I wholeheartedly believe in the words “to each her own.” I think that some people stay home simply because they cannot afford daycare, others drop out of the workforce for a few years to raise their kids, some work part-time, others work full-time, and some women become moms and quit working altogether.

At the end of the day, we are all moms, and how about we leave it at that?

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