Work has always been my comfort zone. I love what I do, and I’m pretty darn good at it.
I don’t think that makes me a bad Mom, or at least I tell myself it does not. It does however make me feel guilty… a lot, and it has for years. I have come to accept this reality.
There was Mom guilt situation #1, when I went back to work a month after giving birth to my oldest son.
My husband had found out that his employer was eliminating his department the month before our baby was born. I worked at a small, amazing design firm, and did not have a paid maternity leave. So, while my husband was phasing out of his job, we chose to have him work from home and take on the daily responsibilities of caring for our newborn, while I headed back to the office. (Happily, this was a role my husband excelled at!)
There was Mom guilt situation #2, when I barely got to see my baby when he was awake.
We were living in New Jersey, and I was commuting into NYC. My day outside the house was 7 am to 7 pm. This made me miss most of the “awake” time with my baby. I’d leave in the morning before he was up and get home just in time for bath and bedtime (or sometimes missing them altogether).
Later, daycare brought more challenges, with an in-home day care that we had to pull our son out of because of the caregiver failing to address another child hitting and getting physical with him and the other infants.
This was followed by another daycare that my son loved so much that he sometimes didn’t want to leave when we went to pick him up! (“What am I doing wrong?”)
Our second son was born four and a half years after our first, and of course the Mom Guilt just doubled.
Then, two years ago I took some time off after my job relocated to another state and I chose not to go. I was so excited to be able to spend time with my boys, who were 11 and 16 — and of course, I thought they would also be excited to have me home with them.
They really just wanted to go about their days as they always did.
THE GOOD NEWS
Through the years, and despite all the guilt, we have shared many adventures and continue to create many great memories.
My boys are happy and healthy, they have had tons of opportunities, they have been surrounded by so much love, and in my opinion, they are turning out just fine.
Truth is, they have always enjoyed coming to work with me, when they have had the chance. They have always been curious about what I do.
They know Dad is the one to call upon when they want someone to say yes or someone to ‘play cars for the hundredth time today’ and they know that Mom is the one who will bandage their knee, help them solve a problem (as long as it is not math) and, of course, be the one to fix anything around the house that needs fixing!
They know that my love for them is immense, and they love me back the same.
So, for all of the working moms who are now trying to work from home with your kids, and feel like you are failing miserably, know this…
You are NOT failing.
Imagine that you just went through the craziest reorganization at work, and were assigned to lead and manage an additional team — one that speaks a different language, works in a different time zone, and requires you to learn an entirely new set of skills and get up to speed in 24 hours.
Oh, and don’t forget that your current team still needs your attention too, because they have had to relocate and are figuring out how to keep business moving, all while mastering new ways to communicate and stay connected.
Cut yourself some slack.
You are NOT alone in this!
I am with you, as are many others: we are all struggling to meet the challenges of this time, with our different circumstances, with our very high expectations of ourselves, and with a ton of Mom guilt thrown in too!
Be kind to yourself, and remember that while you’ve spent years building and mastering your work skills, being home full-time with your job, kids, and anyone else in your household 24/7 is NOT your comfort zone.
But at the end of the day, our kids just need their moms, doing the best we can and loving them immensely.
(Even when they are driving us nuts!)