The Guilt of the Working Mother

It is so cliché I almost don’t want to write about it: the guilt of the working mother.

I feel guilty when I am working because I want to be with Belén.

I feel guilty when I am not working even if I have already put in far more than eight hours.

I feel guilty I spend too much time at work.

I feel guilty I don’t spend enough time with Andy.

I feel guilty when I workout as I could be accomplishing other things with that time.

I feel guilty when I don’t workout as it is something very important to me for both my physical and mental well-being.

I feel guilty when we have an evening out without our daughter.

I feel guilty that I don’t see my friends as much as I used to.

I feel guilty if I blog.

I feel guilty if I don’t blog.

I feel guilty if I spend two hours at the hair salon.

I feel guilty (or I guess I should say crappy) if I let my hair get nappy like it is right now.

I feel guilty if I have lunch with a co-worker or friend (I could be working or exercising.)

I feel guilty if I miss out on networking opportunities.

I feel guilty when I don’t cook nice meals for our family.

I feel guilty if I spend time cooking as it is time I could be playing with Belén.

I feel guilty our house is not cleaner.

I feel guilty our flower beds have a three-foot high weed I just noticed today.

I feel guilty there have been weeks when Belén barely got two baths.

I feel guilty our dog does not get walked.

And I do need some time for myself, occasionally…

I think you get the point.  I really could go on and on unfortunately…

Yes it is cliché, but this guilt is a very real thing.  If you are not careful, it can eat you alive.

I try and listen to all of these guilty signals in my head and course correct if any of them get too out of whack. I have found that the key is to not be too hard on myself and to let the less important things go.

The house does not have to be spotless EVERY day.

My work hours can be flexible when needed so I can put in more hours after Belén is in bed.

If I get a workout in during the morning hours before Belén is awake, the entire day works out better.

On days when I really feel like I need more time with B, I do the daycare drop off so I can get an extra 30 minutes with her.

I communicate with Andy about roles and responsibilities I am expecting him to do.  I ask for help (usually.)

I talk with moms and dads in similar situations.  Commiserating can make you feel better even if it doesn’t solve anything.

In short, I do the best that I can…just like all of you amazing people.  This is okay, it has to be okay…otherwise I will implode or go crazy or cry.

Do you have any tips for minimizing the parental guilt and/or doing it all?


Jennifer Oak June 30, 2010 at 8:13 am

omg girl! That’s a lot to lay on yourself! Cut yourself some slack. You’re doing the best you can. You seem to do a great job balancing a lot of different aspects of your life. You will show Belen a great example of a strong, independent, and interesting woman who values herself and her husband. Be proud of that!

alecia July 1, 2010 at 9:04 am

Thanks Jen! I normally don’t lay all of that out at once and do cut myself some slack, but I do have that crazy thought that I should be able to do it all.

Linda June 30, 2010 at 8:47 am

What an ironically true post! I could switch out some of the particulars, but really I feel the same way. In fact I’d venture to say anyone who doesn’t is lying to herself. The site is looking GREAT, btw!

alecia July 1, 2010 at 9:03 am

Agreed. I think we are all in the same boat with slightly different particulars. Thanks for stopping by.

Diana June 30, 2010 at 9:05 am

yes, yes and yes. I know about all of the above.

Funny thing is, your blog has inspired me to get back into running – it’s good for me and better for Henry if I am working out, even though I spend a little less time with him during the day.

So – thanks for the motivation, Alecia!

alecia July 1, 2010 at 9:02 am

Diana you are sweet! I am glad I have inspired you. Running is SO good for us if nothing else for sanity. It is a very cheap and healthy therapist!

Kristen @ Motherese June 30, 2010 at 11:16 am

I have so much respect for my working mom friends who really seem to do it all. I stay at home with my boys and, as much complaining as I manage to do, I can’t imagine how many more challenges are on the plate of a working mom. One way I propose to reduce all of our guilt is to call a truce in the so-called Mommy Wars. Working mom or stay-at-home mom, let’s all agree to support each other in being the happiest and healthiest moms and women we can be. I wish us all luck along the way! :)
.-= Kristen @ Motherese´s last blog ..On Faith- Safety- and George Corrigan =-.

alecia July 1, 2010 at 9:01 am

No Mommy Wars here! If anything I find myself being a bit jealous of stay-at-home-moms because I would love to spend more time with Belén. I know that if I did stay at home I probably wouldn’t get much more done than I do now from a house/kid perspective though…if my maternity leave was at all representative of what it would be like. I was lucky to get showered by 5pm.

Anna Ellis July 1, 2010 at 12:17 am

This post is ironic, I was just having this very same conversation with Jackie today on our lunch time run! I am not a Mom and feel this same sort of guilt all the time, whether it be family, husband, work,especially work, friend, civic, or some good old fashion fun, there is this constant nagging of the time it is taking away from the otherthings I “should” be doing, and I am not even a mother yet, I can’t fathom what that adds to the equation… Something has got to give, instead of thinking about what isn’t being accomplished, think about all of the amazing things you do accomplish! Alecia your never ending motivation never ceases to amaze me, give yourself a pat on the back! You deserve one!

alecia July 1, 2010 at 8:59 am

You are amazing yourself missy! President of your Rotary Club, part owner in a construction company. I think this is a lesson that we should all realize how MUCH we do! And I know, if and when you decide to have kids (no pressure, seriously!) you will do a fantastic job of juggling it all. I promise. Your priorities just shift and you figure it out.

Nana Jane July 1, 2010 at 12:26 am

Let’s face it, the role of motherhood is accomplished by wearing alot of hats and you can’t help but feel stretched a bit thin at times. But, you need to recognize that is the way it is, I think partially because women are such incredible multi-taskers. Instead of feeling guilty about what you don’t think you are doing as well as you would like, step back and take a quick inventory of all the things that you are doing so incredibly well and give yourself a pat on the back. You are doing an amazing job as a mother, wife, business woman, athlete and the list goes on and on. Another thing to note is that you’re not alone – there is a sisterhood of support out there as I think every woman can relate. And, BTW, you are also a wonderful daughter… Love, Mom ;-) (P.S. – When you and Andy do want an evening out with yourselves or friends, Nana and Grandpa are happy to watch Little B’ most any time.)

alecia July 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

Awwww, thanks Mom!

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels July 1, 2010 at 3:36 am

I can totally relate – so I’m afraid I do not have any words of wisdom to share.

I, like you, just try to do my best, and prioritize what’s important to me, what makes me happy and what makes my family happy. It’s all you can do, right? The semblance of balance ;-)
.-= Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels´s last blog ..Shopping in Zurich- the Curiosity Market =-.

alecia July 1, 2010 at 8:00 am

You are right! It is all we can do. Thanks for the comment.

Beth July 2, 2010 at 9:38 am

I am so with you on this post. The magical thing about parenthood is the opportunity it gives you to examine your priorities from every angle at every turn. Your blog looks like one vehicle through which you do this regularly. I spend a few hours every morning and night thinking about how grateful I am for the opportunities the day brings to get a little closer to “getting it right,” although I know there will be new opportunities that I can’t even anticipate right now.

Remember that you are more than a parent, professional, wife or athlete. If you allow any one of these roles to subvert the others, you will feel out of balance, if those who know you don’t bring it to your attention first. Pay attention to the balance, not the guilt, be gratefull for everything that makes you a person, and I think the rest is bound to fall into place.

And, jeez, I can’t believe you give that girl two baths a day! You could probably relax that standard a bit and no one will be the wiser. :)

alecia July 2, 2010 at 10:22 am

Thanks Beth. Great comment about balance. I updated the wording on the baths. NO WAY would I give her two baths a day. I meant to say that we try to give her one every 2-3 days but there have been a week or two where I am pretty sure she did not get two baths. Slacker parents. :)

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