I discuss my own experiences dealing with working mom guilt associated with juggling kids and a career, and the struggles I have faced as a mompreneur (especially without any sort of designated mat leave!)
My Working Mom Guilt Juggling a Baby and Career
This is going to be a bit of rant, so bear with me as I get it all out. You know, hormones (and lack of sleep).
Motherhood is just one big f*cking guilt trip, and I might argue that no one knows that better than the working mom. I’m now a couple years into motherhood, yet I still live in constant state of mom guilt about how to balance both of my babies. My real boys, E and O, and my work baby, Abbey’s Kitchen. Sometimes I feel like I spend more time feeling guilty these days about how I’m juggling kids and a career than I do actually successfully juggling kids and a career. It’s probably not a productive state of affairs.
But you know, it’s a constant struggle. I feel guilty when I take a 2 hour walk with O in the middle of a Tuesday and don’t look at my phone once (#LivingOnTheEdge). And when I was breastfeeding, I felt guilty when I spent 2 hours trying to pump out a blog post (like this one) while my husband fed the baby my pumped milk. It’s really a lose-lose situation.
But alas, I guess I saw that coming. I’m also an entrepreneur (or I guess, “mompreneur” as they say) so there’s no such thing as a government funded maternity leave. For that reason, my husband and I went into my pregnancies knowing that I would continue to work. I couldn’t just so easily put my whole company on hold and pick up a year later. When people would ask me if I was taking a mat leave, I would laugh and remind them I was an entrepreneur. People who know me would smile politely and laugh with me, “oh yes, of course, you’re crazy, I forgot!” Crazy sounding, maybe, but that arrangement felt like the only non-crazy thing I could do.
Now that I have both my kids, I get all sorts of comments about my parenting and career balance (or maybe lack-thereof). In the first month after E’s birth, every allied health or medical professional I saw would look mortified if I told them I was already dabbling back at work. Hell, they gave me a look of disapproval just for saying I was going to leave the house to grab something at the store! Even if it was unintentional, it just fueled my woking mom guilt.
Never in my life had I felt so judged for my independence, ambition or even just suggesting that I was feeling good enough to get out of the f*cking house for 30 minutes. And this was largely from fellow moms (men, on the other hand, don’t seem to care what we do, probably because the pressures on them look so different).
Struggles of a Working Mom
Being a working mom, I’ve had to give up a lot of my ideals on how this whole motherhood thing would shake out. I recently talked about my botched birth plan, and my struggle to breastfeed my son, so I feel like I came into this feeling like a bit of a failure already. But being a working mom just trying to juggle my sons and career meant I had to give up a lot of control. Like, a lot. And that’s a damn hard thing for a Type A person to do.
The mom guilt first hit hard after E was born. Not only did I not get that special breastfeeding bond due to latch issues, but it means someone else often got to feed (and cuddle) my son altogether using the milk I worked my ass off around the clock to pump. It meant I had to try to ignore his cries in the nursery next to my office as I talked on a conference call, all the while watching my breasts leak milk right through my shirt. It meant I could go a half or even full day without really seeing his sweet little face (I guess this is how a lot of husbands feel). And it also meant the possibility of missing one of those hallmark “firsts” because I had a meeting with a client, or YouTube shoot. That last one was a particularly hard pill to swallow.
Sometimes when I hear my friends talk about having never even left their child alone with another person until they were 6, 8 or 12 months, I ask myself if what I’m doing is wrong. Will I regret losing this precious time when my kids are all grown up? Am I a bad mom for not having this innate need to keep them by my side all day and night when they’re not in school? Sometimes the working mom guilt is crippling. But I’ve come to recognize that while I think worrying about the future is a natural part of motherhood, it isn’t in any way productive. All I can do is try to recognize what’s right for me now. And right now, I’m going to just have to be comfortable doing a good enough job balancing a career and motherhood.
But here’s my ask: While I try to maintain some confidence in how I’m doing with this daily struggle, I just hope that we can all recognize that we don’t all have to do motherhood the same. It’s hard enough to physically balance work and mothering, so we don’t need the criticism from others who decide to run their homes or lives differently. I would love if we could call a truce. It would be nice if moms (and dads) could support one another, wherever they are in their parenthood journey. Both stay-at-home moms could enjoy their time at home, and working moms could just enjoy their own little juggle. I recognize how hard that is given we’re probably all questioning the deal we cut at least a million times each day. I mean, we’re all giving up something, or different percentages of things. But let’s cut each other some slack and recognize that it’s not easy for any of us. There is no right way, or even better way. Just a good enough way for you.
So moms, next time you speak to a fellow mama about how she stays at home with her kids, or how she juggles a baby and career, please remember to be kind. We’re all just trying to survive this motherhood thing in our own imperfect way, and we may feel insecure about the sacrifices we’ve chosen (or maybe not willingly chosen) to make. Let’s work past this working mom guilt together.
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More Blog Posts You Might Like
- Postpartum Stress | How Becoming A Mom Actually Reduced My Anxiety
- Mom Guilt | My Breastfeeding Failure Story
- Things No One Told Me About Motherhood That I Learned When I Became A Mom
- The Most Important Lessons Motherhood Taught Me On My Baby’s First Birthday
Moms, let me know if you’ve ever felt working mom guilt for how you choose to divide your time. Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.