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March 04, 2013

Back Off, Mom Guilt!

Here’s a blog that I love from a woman I love even more. Kelly has been part of the team for almost as long as we’ve existed. As part of our Workplace Solutions team, Kelly helps place services with companies so employees can use us for free.

Blog-mom-guiltI’m sitting on an airplane. I have a three hour flight ahead of me where I’m supposed to do work and all I can think about are my kids. They were both up all night. My 5-year old daughter had a stomach bug and my 3-year old son had Croup. And I was running between them.

Why didn’t I wake my husband? I don’t know.

I got 3 hours of sleep. Most of which was in a toddler bed. And this morning I had to leave for a work trip. So as I kissed their sweet sleeping heads goodbye (why do sick kids always sleep during the day!?) and thanked my mom for being my back-up care, I felt that old beast of a shadow lurking over me again.

It was my Mom Guilt. I’d say she greets me at least once a day, often as I’m trying to be the best mom, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law and employee I can possibly be. And I hate her. She is my nemesis. "They need you" she whispers in my ear. "You’re their Mom," she says in the back of my mind as I get in the taxi and head to the airport.

This time my response was different. This time, I wasn’t taking it. I had to tell this lurking shadow to stop bullying me. This was my inner tirade:

"Back off, Guilt! Don’t tell me how to live my life. Don’t get in my head and make me feel inferior to the other moms in this world. My kids are doing great. My kids are loved and know they’re loved. They have parents and grandparents, friends, family, teachers and babysitters who take incredible care of them. They are thriving. They are sweet, fun, smart and happy. Yes, they’re happy, Guilt. So why do you invade my brain when I leave them on days like this, when meetings run late, when dinner is microwavable, when I have to leave my husband alone with bedtime just so I can get my hair cut, or when I accept favors from my family or SAHM friends  who ‘want to help’?

And why oh why don’t you invade my husband’s brain?

I’ve had ENOUGH of you, Mom Guilt. I’ve had enough."

And then I almost cried. (The poor cab driver!) Not only was I having a therapeutic moment, but I was also realizing that this guilt was me. And would always be me. It’s the inner perfectionist who got me to this place and will continue to strive for perfection, even though she knows it doesn’t exist. It’s the woman who idolizes June Cleaver, Martha Stewart and Sheryl Sandberg and will do whatever she can to be the next female role model for her children and yours.

And while I might try to tame this inner voice that makes me strive to do better next time even when I’m getting a promotion, apologizes to family when they don’t see watching the kids as "childcare" but as "quality time with the grandkids," and feels like a terrible friend and wife even though everyone else is busy too. I will probably always be the one who gets up for vomit and coughing fits. In a way it’s because I want to. It’s also my job -- I’m "Mom." These dark circles under my eyes and stains on my clothes are just the battle wounds from the best job in the world.

So, here’s what I realized on that plane trip: Mom Guilt is my fr-enemy for life. It’s a waste of energy to hate her, so I will follow the age-old advice and "keep my friends close and my fr-enemies closer." But I’ve got to watch my back ‘cause that chick has the power to take me down. If I let her.

Tell me, what would you say to your Mom Guilt if you had the chance?



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Kellie Saccaro

I am a SAHM and suffer from mom guilt when I do something with friends 2 Fridays in a row! It's in our nature to be the sole provider of our children because we gave birth to them and are ultimately responsible for how they turn out. Each mom has her own way of accomplishing this. Some work for various reasons and others stay home for various reasons... As long as the children have someone who loves them and can take care if them when you cannot, I think they will be great people !


Wow! Someone actually is experiencing what I am going through. I have a 2 1/2 year old. I was recently invited to a friend's birthday party. I agonized over going. My friend and sitter - said you take good care of her, she is loved, fed and clothed. You spend time playing with her and when she is sick - you are there for doctor appointments and a mommy pillow while she is sick. You deserve to be in the company of adults once and a while!


Thank you so much for posting this! It is perfect timing for me. I work part time from home so I can be home when my son is out of school. My husband has a company trip every year of which we have taken our now 7 year old son every year. This is the first year that we are leaving him home with my parents. He has been sick this week and we leave on Friday. I am having SO much "mom guilt". He is excited to hang out with grandma and grandpa so why am I having such a hard time? Love the point of "quality time with the grandkids". Thank you!


I am sorry to break the news to you, but Mom guilt goes on even when you have raised them to be adults. I too had to work for some of the years when our children were young. I just had to remind myself that having a little responsibility helps them to grow. Being cared for by a grandparent or child care provider helps them to develop people skills. I worked outside the home because it was financially necessary. I just had to do the best I could and let it go. Today, they are all happy normal adults. We have five wonderful children.


I have no Mom guilt. I do theatre (which includes many rehearsals per week when I have a show) and I go out with friends occasionally. I spend copious amounts of time with my autistic child doing therapy and I spend not-as-copious amounts of time with my neurotypical child on homework, projects, and playing. They have love, shelter, and food. They don't need me to be with them every second.


Thank you so much for blogging about this!! I work out of the home super full time as a pediatrician (many overnights away..) and often have severe mom guilt about spending more time with other people's children than my own sweet 1 1/2 year old. It helps to know that other moms are in the same boat-- even those who stay at home!! I like the advice to learn to live with the guilt, rather than ignore or fight it-- As Jana said, I just need to acknowledge it and "let it go". Wishing everyone lots of luck with these difficult feelings!


WOW! Thank you moms out there for this post! I have a 13 month old, she's my first and have never left her side for more than a couple of hours. So now that my husband planned this much needed 4 day trip so we can reconnect as a couple, i was so close to cancelling the trip because what if my mom cant keep her calm at nights, what if she misses me and im away having a good time. but no more! This is quality time for grandma, and she reassures me my baby will have fun and will be ok! SO BACK OFF MOM GUILT! hahaha


I worked 80% after my now 4 year old was born and stopped after my 19 months old was born. I don't regret it for a second that I stopped working even if it meant financial sacrifices. You won't get the time back when your kids are small. I can honestly say I see the difference in my two kids and I am so glad I get to spend those few precious years with them before school starts etc. I now live overseas and it is actually refreshing to see a culture where being a full-time Mum is valued and no one would think about going back to work after 12 weeks. I think women in the US need to stand up for being Moms and get what they deserve: paid maternity leave, available part-time work and employers who support women.


Wow... This is my life right now.. Exactly. I board a plane in the morning for my next meeting. And the mom guilt has gotten out of control so much so that I am strongly considering giving up my career (which I feel I may regret deeply). Thank you for sharing your honest truth. It certainly helps me cope with this crazy world of a traveling career mom. My child is loved and smart and precious and just fine! She will have many opportunities because i work. Go away MOM guilt!


I am a first time mom of a 6month old and also work full time as a manager at a well known coffee shop. My husband is wonderful and very helpful but I still feel overwhelmed, unorganized, and guilty when I am not at work or with my baby. I am trying to be present and in the moment wherever I am and not focus on everything else. I try to remember that it about the quality of time not quantity.

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