Speak to most working mothers and they will tell you that at one time or the other (or all of the time) they have felt guilty about returning to work. If they work out of the home, they feel guilty about dropping the baby off with someone else so they can go out and work. If they work in the home, they feel guilty for the amount of time they must spend during a day working rather than playing with the baby.
I´ve written about guilt before, because it is such a powerful emotion. On top of the challenges that work and family present, guilt piles on our shoulders and drags us down. While I always knew how guilty a working mother could feel, I never stopped to realize the guilt that a stay at home mom might experience.
My friend is a stay at home mom to two children and has been for the past four years. A graphic designer by trade, she has decided not to tackle any new projects until her youngest is three, which will be in a year from now. She has said that while she is at home, she wants her time to be spent completely with her children and taking care of her family.
Yet the other day, after I had confessed that I´d been feeling guilty about taking on so many projects recently and spending so much time working (and really enjoying that time spent working), she had her own confession: She has been feeling guilty lately because she has a desire to start working part time from home.
Her confession gave me pause to think. It was interesting to see that not only are working moms feeling guilty about their decision (or their need) to return to work but that some stay at home moms have guilt about their own decisions or needs. Perhaps guilt is just a burden that all moms carry, whether they are doing exactly what they want to do or whether they are doing what they have to do for their family (should those two things differ).
I called her a few days later to see how she was doing and she said she was feeling better. She´d taken a day to herself and recharged. She spent another few days strictly playing with her kids, getting down on the floor and building with blocks and imagining with the little plastic people that have taken over her house and mine. Then she said she gave herself permission to miss working, but when she really thought about it, she realized that she wasn´t ready to return to it just yet.
Afterwards I considered my own guilt. While I love being at home with my daughter, I also love what I do. I feel writing is ingrained in my soul just like my love for my family, and that without it I would probably go insane. So I spent a day horsing around with my daughter on the floor and playing pretend with her little plastic people, and then I spent a few hours at the end of that day in front of my computer, typing up a press release for a client and understanding that if I want both, I have to make time for both, and then I have to let the guilt go.