‘Embracing Working Momhood without (too much) guilt’
It’s been ages since I felt guilty about working. Nowadays, I’m much more likely to feel guilty about not working. You know, whiling away my afternoons on a chaise longue (which Google, for some reason wants to correct to chaise ‘lounge’) in a filmy peignoir, flipping through trashy magazines while nibbling on chocolates bought with The Dude’s hard-earned money. (Actually, my non-working afternoons are more likely to be spent in the company of SoftScrub.)
But, back when The Child was an actual child, I used to feel guilty about working. My guilty feelings weren’t so much about leaving her adorable self in the care of others (though she was pretty darned adorable, as you can see):
Nope. My guilty feelings arose because I, um, actually preferred going to an actual workplace and interacting with other adults to hanging around all day with a pre-verbal non-ambulatory person, adorable though she might be. As you may already know from reading some of my other stories, like ‘Gone Baby Gone’, I used to say ‘Hey, if didn’t enjoy getting down on the floor to scribble with crayons before I had a child, what makes anyone think I’d enjoy it now?’
But even I, a Mom Who Basically Preferred Adults, felt pretty bad when I thought about Someone Else being there when The Child took her First Steps or spoke her First Words. (Though I didn’t feel too bad about taking a pass on the First Tantrum.)
But guilt is guilt. And I guess Working Moms are just hardwired to feel it. But here’s the deal. (And now I’m going to share something wise and wonderful I read somewhere when my Personal Child was small): Whether you’re feeling guilty because you don’t want to go to work, or feeling guilty because you do — you don’t want your child to feel it.
How many times have you heard a Mom say (usually while her kid is clinging to her leg and weeping), ‘Mommy would love to stay here with you, but she has to go to work so she can earn money to buy you food and toys.’
Sheesh. Think how that makes a kid feel. Like Mom could stay home and relax if he or she did not exist. Talk about guilt.
Instead, here’s the advice I read (and tried to follow): Every morning on your way out the door, grab your kid, give her a big squeeze and say ‘Gimme a kiss. I’m going to Work!’ — and say that last word the same way you’d say ‘DisneyLand!‘ (Dads can profit by this advice, too, as you can see by the happy leave-taking photo at the top of this post.)
Try your darnedest to make Work seem like the most delightful place any grownup can possibly go. Because, unless your child grows up to be the Fourth Mrs. Donald Trump, someday she’ll be going to work too. And, trust me, as the parent of a fully-grown gainfully-employed Child (whose birthday is tomorrow), that’s a truly wonderful thing.
New York City. March 2016
32 thoughts on “Gimme a kiss. I’m goin’ to work(!)”
The guilt is shocking . I always have it x
Don’t you hate that? At least you’re not alone (!)
Wow! There’s always tons of guilt to go around. It doesn’t end when the kids grow up and I look back in that dang rear view mirror. Add the fact that I was raised Catholic with a mom who piled it on…. Get the picture?
Oh yes, dear Susie. I get the picture all too well! Even though I wrote this post to encourage other moms not to feel guilty, it was really so that I wouldn’t feel guilty! Because, as you — and The Child — know for sure: that’s what Moms do!
This is a great post! I’m not a mom, but I know for certain that I’d feel the same way you did. My cousin stayed at home when her kids were little and it always looked depressing to me, because she 100% lost herself in the process.
So sorry about your cousin! But so glad you could identify with this post, even though you’re not a Mom. Thank you (!)
Absolutely love that. I am going to share it with my friends who are Mums. Actually if parents said that, kids would grow up thinking work is important and they too need to go to work 🙂
So glad this resonated with you, Parul. I honestly think it’s so important that we Moms Who Work embrace and celebrate our choice so our daughters can grow up strong and happy. Thank you!
This is SUCH good advice. I’m not a mum, but I’ve already had this conversation with several of my mum friends and everyone seems to feel guilty or like they are failing, no matter what they do!
I’ll file this away for when (if) I can have kids as i really hope I can keep working.
Thank you! I really do understand that there are many schools of opinion (!) But I honestly think I chose the right one. And I’m sure you will too xoxoxo
The conflict is amazing isn’t it? I never considered stay-at-home momhood. I don’t think I’d be good at it. I read somewhere that the optimal time with your child is two hours of full attention. I’ve clung to that. For two delightful hours a day I get to be with this wonderful human. The rest of the time, I get to be at work, contributing in my own way. Everyone makes a different choice based on what works for the family–but I love the notion of celebrating WORK! and also holding sacred to those two hours.
So glad to hear from you on this, Angela. There is certainly plenty of room for momhood differences of opinion. But staying home full time with The Child wouldn’t have been best for me — OR her (!)
Your words are so true. My daughter is almost 11 and in her life I have been all versions of mother, from stay at home, to receiving benefits, to doing voluntary work, to doing paid work…and now I’m back to stay at home with a little bit at work at home too. And GAWD whatever I do I feel guilty! Why is that?
Oh, Em! I feel your pain! I think no matter what, Moms feel guilty. Comes with the territory (!) My daughter made it to 26 and, luckily, is doing more than fine. But I still find things to feel guilty about. Thanks for the comment, and hang in there — eleven can be a tough age, or at least it was in my house!
Awww, well thank you. She’s the apple of my eye, she’s a relatively easy going mini teen at the moment…at the moment ? her little brother is 2 on Monday though…so there’s that…??
Wow! So jealous that you have two. We got a very late start, had our daughter the year we both turned 40, and couldn’t manage to produce another. Which is kinda sad since we both grew up in sibling-stuffed households. But hey — so grateful for the One We Got! Enjoy your family, and your weekend, Lovely Em!
Aww, I will, and have a great weekend yourself ❤❤❤
I’m not a mom, but I will file this advice away for someday! You’re so right–and please, dear Lord, do NOT let my child become the fourth Mrs. (or Mr., who knows, really?) Donald Trump.
Love this comment — so glad you spoke up, even tho you are not a mom! Funny, isn’t it, that I wrote this post a year ago. When any remarks about Trump were taken as jokes. Still are, I suppose, only now they are SCARY jokes.
So cute baby, i like so much, sometimes we must do like that, and there is nothing left, so don`t feel guilty, Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for reading my story…and for commenting! So nice of you. And yes, aren’t babies cute???
My comment was indeed memorable, but I can’t remember it. All to do with the Drama of Mommy Guilt. Times do change!
So sorry I lost your comment, Ellen. I bet it was indeed a good one! As for Mommy Guilt, whatever you did you did it wonderfully (and probably not too guiltily) because your kids turned out darned fabulous!
Your baby looks like you. Thank you for visiting my site today and attending my Meet and Greet. I have them every other Saturday as well as eight additional networking events each month. If you are interested, I encourage you to subscribe to receive notifications of my blogging events.
Talk about guilt! Somehow I deleted all your juicy comments, O Juicy Commenters. They were really nice comments, too. There were several about the surprise of finding that a chaise longue isn’t — nope, not even if you’ve been calling it one forever — a chaise lounge. Anyway. I promise to be more careful in future, since I really enjoy getting comments (hint hint) from my readers (even more hinting) xoxoxo
How did you accidentally delete everyone’s comments? Can you look in the Trash and get them back?
Hi Janice! Thx for your comments. Speaking of which, here’s what happened (mostly so no one else has to go thru it!) I mistakenly hit the trash icon under my post on the WordPress Dashboard. (I thought I was checking to see what was in my trash folder). Well, a box opened that said ‘Delete Post’ or ‘Undo’. And when I clicked ‘Undo’, the post republished itself. So it was like it was brand new — with no comments. And they were pretty clever comments, too. Darn it.
Thank you for your candor. I am gathering research for a post I am doing on blogging mistakes. I would like to use yours. I will link to your site which will help your SEO. If you would rather I didn’t, I won’t. I don’t want to embarrass you. Which would you prefer?
Hi back, Janice. Feel free to use my mistake as an example. Perhaps it will help others avoid doing the same thing! I don’t embarrass easily, but thanks for asking first (!) xo
That sucks! It happens to the best of us! 🙂
Thx OM. I felt like such an idiot!