Work at Home Guilt

Today I want to talk about something every mother knows volumes about. Guilt. Yes, that ugly five letter word that makes us all feel miserable. Every mother feels it at one time or another, whether it’s deciding to work full time and leaving your child in day care or even choosing to take a day to yourself and leaving the baby with a sitter. For work-at-home moms, however, the guilt primarily lies with being home with the children, but not actually “being there,” all the time.

Every day I get up, feed my children breakfast, see my son off to school, and then sit down with my 2-year-old daughter for at least a half an hour to do something fun like a craft or reading books. But then, after that half hour is over, I know it is time to go do what I have to do—work. As I leave my daughter playing on the floor with her toys to sit down at the computer, my gut pulls at me and my throat closes up with that feeling…guilt. I feel guilty for having to miss precious time watching my daughter explore the world and develop who she is—even though I am mere feet away from her. Most days she is just fine, and I always make a point to stop every now and then to pay attention to whatever is keeping her entertained, but there are always those days. These days I speak of are the days that make me wonder why in the world I decided to work at home. These days rip out my heart and make me feel like a terrible, neglectful mother.

“Mommy, pleeeeeaaaasssse stop working now,” she’ll say to me, pulling my hands away from the computer keyboard. Or it may just be her trying to engage me in something she is doing right while I am up to my eyes in work that just MUST be done, so I have to say no. How do you explain to a 2-year-old that certain things have to be done, while still instilling in her that she is the always the most important? I try my best. I divide my time. I schedule, I organize, but no matter how I try, I can’t seem to escape the sinking feeling of guilt that I get on days when I feel like I should have spent more time with her.

On the other hand, I get to feed my daughter breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. I get to take her to the potty whenever she has to go, and I never miss her little voice singing a song or calling my name. I get to gaze at her beautiful blue eyes whenever I want to, and if I just have to have a hug, I can go get one. And best of all when I am having a “bad day at the office,” I can step away from work and enter the heavenly world of mommyhood for a dose of good old fashioned love. There is no better way to cure a bad mood than seeing the love of your life smile and hear them say “I love you.”

So I will take the guilt. I will take the frustration and the feelings of inadequacy. I will take all of this in stride because it is just a few of the realities of motherhood, no matter what kind of mother you are. Working mother, work at home mother or stay-at-home mother, we all have those moments when we feel guilty or less-than perfect. But for me, I am right where I belong, working at home right next to my kids. I wouldn’t have it any other way.