Diary of a Working Mom (Part 1): Mom Guilt

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After five years of being a stay-at-home mom, I made the decision to go back to my career on a part-time basis. Not because I needed to work . . . but because I wanted to work. And for that reason, I have felt overcome with “mom guilt.” I felt like I had to hide the fact that I was a working mom, and if someone did find out I was working, I had to lie about how much I was actually working for fear of judgment. I isolated myself socially and sort of disappeared from engaging in church activities, social media, and friendships. Sadly, I feared that my “stay-at-home mom” friends would think I was a bad mom. 

I determined that I needed to prove to everyone I could still do everything that stay-at-home moms do. I obsessed over keeping my house clean, cooking homemade meals, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and taking my kids to all of their after school activities and practices. And I wasn’t about to let anyone see me fail as a working mom. I was just certain that everyone was waiting to tell me “I told you so. You can’t do it all.”

And you know what? It’s true. We can’t do it all. Whether we work or stay home with our kids, it is impossible to be perfect.

Another aspect of the mom guilt is the conflict between work and home. Feeling guilty that you are not contributing enough at work because you have demands at home. Feeling guilty that you can’t engage with your kids as much as you want due to demands at work.  Finding that balance is tricky to achieve.

So why do we hang on to these unrealistic ideals of what being a perfect mom looks like?  For some of us, our ideal is being that mom with the amazing career who always looks put together, yet somehow finds time to be on the PTA and cook homemade meals every night. For others, the ideal is to be 100% SAHM, having the never-ending energy and patience to attend to all of your children’s physical and emotional needs 24/7. 

Whatever your ideal mom image is . . . take a moment to reflect on whether trying to attain this is realistic or even healthy.

Why do we pressure ourselves to live up to these unrealistic ideals? Where did these ideas of perfection come from? Somewhere in our past, we were made to believe we needed to match these ideals of perfectionism. Maybe we had a specific experience or even a relationship that created this. Now our subconscious mind tells us if we are not doing this, then we are a failure. 

The truth is most of what our subconscious mind tells us is not factual. Yet we let it be the driving force in our lives. Take some time to examine your past experiences and see what might be forming the lies in your mind. These lies about being a working mom can be leading to mom guilt. Positive affirmations and controlling negative thoughts is the best way to work towards overcoming this challenge.

Tell yourself positive affirmations such as:

I am enough.

My best is enough.

I am the perfect mom for my kids.

Motherhood is hard and it is ok to struggle.

I am serving a purpose in my family.

I am a positive role model for my children.

Think of other affirmations specific to your own mental challenges. Post them in a place to remind yourself to say them daily. You might even consider seeing a counselor to help you work through these subconscious lies. The mind is more powerful than we think. 

To read about self-care as a working mom, read Part 2 of this series. And to hear why working moms love what they do, check out Part 3.



The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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