Friday, 24 August 2012

A working mother's guilt

Guilt.  It's an unwelcome emotion that has the ability to charge through your body, ripping your heart out and stomping all over it, leaving a bloody mess in the kitchen that you not only have to mop up the best you can, you have to do your best to stop your children slipping in too.

It can take you to you dark places.  Places that you’d never choose to go.  Places that you desperately want to keep your children from.  It can sneak up on you, pouncing when you least expect it.  It did to me this week.

I’ve been a working mother of two for nearly seven months now.  I’ve written before about how tough I've found it and certainly much harder than when I was a working mother of one for some strange, inexplicable reason.  I thought I had found an ‘autopilot’ of sorts to steer me through the working week.  But, no matter how good your ‘autopilot’ is, it seems there are always bumps in the road that can take you off course.

Image credit

A day or two ago, after coming home from a day at work and giving my children some much needed cuddles, Sophia hugged me and quietly enquired,

“Are you at home tomorrow?”

It’s a question she has taken to asking recently as she begins to understand the chronological order of the days of the week and looks forward to the weekend when I can be at home with her and her brother.

I explained to Sophia that I would have to go to work for the next couple of days.  Normally she takes it quite well and we talk about the weekend but this time her little face fell...and with it went my heart.

Then came the guilt.  I became awash with feelings about how I am letting my precious little girl down; that I go out to work while she needs me with her; that I am missing out on so much.  Deep down I know none of that is true.  I work hard to provide for my family and give them everything they need, including security.  I love my children fiercely and they know this, I am sure.  Everything I do is for them.

But right then, at that very moment, all of that reasoning was swept away by guilt.

I cuddled Sophia tight.  I told her how many days it would be until I would be at home with her.  I stroked her hair and told her I loved her very much.  My eyes watered with emotion but I did my best not to show it.  We moved on to talking about other things and she got out a jigsaw. 

It was a fleeting few moments, yet, this exchange made me feel like I had been hit hard in the chest, making me breathless with a dull ache in my heart.  Those wretched feelings of guilt stayed with me, making the evening a melancholy one.  I longed to tell her that I would stay at home but I couldn’t.  I’m working on a project that might allow me to work from home in the future (and is something I’m very close to unveiling!) but being at home full-time just isn’t a possibility right now.  Bills need to be paid, clothes need to be bought and renovations need to be finished. 

A working mother’s guilt can truly be a terrible thing; something that can eat away at you if you let it.  I know I’ll get over it this latest blip and we will carry on with some sort of vague normality, but that doesn’t make it any easier.  And it doesn’t stop the next blip from coming.

Are you a working mum?  Do you ever feel this way?  Is guilt something that all mothers experience, regardless of whether we are work or stay at home?  I guess what I’m trying to say is, please tell me I’m not alone.


  1. I find it ridiculously difficult- yet necessary- being a working mum. We can't afford childcare with three so we have to have someone to go out to work.
    It is so difficult trying to being a mum and working... plus the house... and even if you could possibly imagine you might just be on top of all three... the guilt comes in.
    I just hope it gets easier... hope you find your balance!

  2. RollercoasterMum29 August 2012 at 01:47

    You are not alone. I contantly battle guilt, work and housework and often feel I never get on top of any of it properly. I wish I didn't have to work - especially in the school hols - they are the worst - constantly reading all SAHM posts on fb about all the stuff they are doing with the kids that I never seem to have the time for. On the other hand I do think I am providing a good role model and when I was at home all day every day when I was on maternity leave with no 2 I nearly went crazy! So I guess it is swings and roundabouts - just wish it could be a bit more flexible.

  3. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is hard and, on some days, seems so much harder. I try to console myself with the thought that all mothers, whether they're working or not, feel some form of guilt at one time or another

  4. I think you've totally hit the nail on the head - I do wish for a bit more flexibility!

  5. Oh you have my sympathies. I imagine that it's hard enough for you but having Sophia getting old enough to understand it more, and to talk to you about it, must make it doubly hard. I think parent guilt is there whatever you do, whether you are a working parent or not, because we all want what is best for our children but the answer isn't always obvious as to how we do that.
    But don't feel guilty when you are just doing what you need to do. They know that you love them and will understand and appreciate when they are older why it was that way. X

  6. I think you're right in that we will all feel guilty at some point or other regardless of whether we work or not. I must do my best to remember that. It can just be exhausting at times trying to juggle everything (as I'm sure every mum finds) and then throw in the guilt trip and it can feel a little overwhelming

  7. You are MOST DEFINITELY not alone - I feel guilty for wanting to work, and then for working when the kids are here as I do work from home...guilt seems to be with us whatever choices we make as a parent - and as the kids become that little bit older, but not old enough to understand some of the tougher choices we have to make, it becomes more difficult as they start to question what you are doing / not doing. I felt guilty today for being secretly happy the kids went back to school, so that I didn't have to sneak about the house trying to work while looking after them both!

  8. Why did no-one ever tell me being a parent involves feeling guilty about something or other practically all the time?!! Thanks for commenting, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels guilt...and thank you as well for including me in your BritMums round-up of working parent blog posts

  9. There's an exciting new opportunity that is gaining rapid popularity online.

    Major companies are paying people for simply sharing their opinions!

    You can make up to $75 per each survey!

    And it's open to anybody from any country!


I would love to hear your thoughts and views so please feel free to post a comment

Share this


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...