This was my recent guest post at Lana M.’s Blog.
I read this quote a while back and I don’t even remember the author “No educated modern woman can have a baby without suffering agonies of self-doubt about the meaning of motherhood.” Who does not agree with this statement? Every working mother can agree that working mom guilt is a dilemma that many of us face, and just because we know that we are not alone, it doesn’t mean that one of us or all of us should just simply get over it. We are all affected by it differently.
Dropping off your child at daycare for eight plus hours a day can take a toll on any parent, but for working mothers, it takes on a whole new dimension especially when you attach that the stigma that comes with the expectations of society or the portrayal of working mothers in the media. Moreover, these stereotypes do not come from stay-at-home moms and that is where a big misconception lies. These stereotypes come directly from the media and the corporate world. Think about it. Dads don’t feel guilty that they leave their children and go to work everyday because no one expects them to. Yet another example – how many working mothers have made a decision not to breastfeed because they were concerned it would interfere with their careers?
There isn’t one mother out there who doesn’t dream of an at-home situation (whether it be working from home or being able to stay home with her children) or even being able to take her children to work with her. Unfortunately, these situations only work for a lucky few and with all the negativity out there, it is no wonder so many of us feel like bad mothers.
Working moms, let me share one great piece of information with you and maybe you can relieve yourself of some of that guilt, even if it is just for a few minutes! There is no solid evidence out there to show that children of working mothers experience any emotional harm from being away from their mothers. With that said – do you feel any less guilty? Of course not! You still feel guilty because that one sentence, as true as it may be, is just not enough. Look around you! For years, the media blamed working mothers for the neglect of their children, the breakdown of the traditional family and the decline of society. In addition, now the hype is all about the mothers who leave their corporate jobs to stay home with their children. For those of us who cannot afford to stay home and/or who actually want to stay in their professions and enjoy the extra income, we should not be made into bad mothers. It is no wonder we feel guilty!
Fortunately, we can thank authors like Betty Holcomb, author of “Not Guilty! The Good News About Working Mothers” for helping to put an end to the working mom stereotype. (Yes, Betty, this is a shout out!) She tells us that the media is incorrect in their assumptions. She assures us that we (and our children) are doing just fine and she backs it up with solid evidence – evidence that shows that our children are not harmed by us working outside of the home and that are children are not any less intelligent or misbehave more just because they spend time in daycare.
Now that I have broken the pedestal from jumping with excitement and screaming “Hallelujah!,” I can get serious and tell you that I live with the same guilt despite working for eight plus years and having children in daycare for all of that time. It never gets easier and I still get teary-eyed when I leave a grouchy nine year old or a crying infant for complete strangers to comfort. What I do have comfort in is knowing that I am not alone in how I feel and one day, if I pray just hard enough, I might just win the lottery and have more time than I can dream up to spend my children, but in the meantime, I will just have to deal with the guilt and cut myself some slack because I know I am doing the right thing and yes, I am not alone.