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What Do Working Moms and SAHMs Have in Common? Guilt!

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“Stay at home, work, or work from home. It really doesn’t matter what you do. You’ll find a way to feel guilty about something. You just have to do what feels right to you and what works best for your family,” explains a dear friend of mine, a college sorority sister who I’ve always respected and seems to do motherhood seamlessly as a successful working mom. As we chat on the phone, I am staring out at the Space Needle from my company-approved and expensed luxurious, very quiet (aaah, I remember quiet) hotel room rubbing my almost-eight-months-pregnant belly.

At the time, I was a marketing executive wanting nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom. It had been my dream, even after ten years of exciting business trips and extravagant meals at the best restaurants across the country. But there didn’t seem to be a practical way to make it work with one salary and a notable mortgage. Yet, it made me feel better simply by hearing my old friend tell me that all moms feel guilty about something, some of the time. Even most of the time.

Three years later; I know this to be true. No matter what you try to do right for your family or your children (or yourself); guilt will sneak its way in. These are just some of the ways guilty mom syndrome kicks in…

The Working Mom

Her early morning thoughts:Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever! I’m going to work hard today to teach my kids how successful you can be-how you can balance a family and a professional life. I’ll also teach them the value of money and even afford us a Disney Vacation or two.

Her guilt:I don’t see my kids enough! I should be home with them doing crafts, flipping through sight words index cards, taking them to the park, making them a healthy, home-cooked lunch and kissing them at naptime.

The Stay-At-Home Mom

Her early morning thoughts:Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever! I’m going to spend so much one-on-one time with my children today and give them love and affection, teach them about the world, and make a craft out of fall leaves and paint. I will make them a healthy, home-cooked lunch before I kiss them at naptime. Afterwards, we’ll run around the house using our imagination; laughing the day away. Then I’ll clean the whole house while my kiddos play so very well together.

Her guilt:I don’t have time to cook these kids a healthy, home-cooked lunch…there are toys all over this place, paint all over the table and chairs, and I can’t even get them to sit still for one minute to do our flash cards. And what if I’m playing with them too much and they won’t learn how to play independently? It’s so loud in here and I’m always saying “no” to someone. I feel so guilty for wanting it to be naptime! Forget about a clean house…I’m exhausted!

The Work-At-Home Mom

Her early morning thoughts:Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever! I’m going to balance playing with my kiddos and working on my business plan. I’ll take some time to prepare a healthy, home-cooked lunch and snuggle with them before their two-hour nap. After naptime, I’ll let them run around during a park play date.

Her guilt:I just spent thirty minutes playing doctor and being locked up in jail. I painted with them earlier today. We’re going to the playground after naptime. Yet I feel bad when I do steal a few minutes to get on my laptop. Sometimes I can get up to 15 minutes, the rest of the time I feel like I’m neglecting them if I’m not playing with them or teaching them or feeding them. They’d be happier in preschool, learning and playing with other kids. The day is ticking by and if I want to get any work done, we’ll have to settle for Spaghetti Os, a cheese stick and green beans. I guess I can get some work done during naptime and there is always after bedtime.

So there it is moms-guilt in its finest. You can try to do the right thing and be the best mom ever, but there is always a flip-side to the picture. You’re either doing too much or too little.But don’t let it make you feel bad. Let the simple, beautiful moments-the ones that really matter-slay the guilt. When your child walks into the room and they can see the sparkle in your eyes that you’re truly happy to see them; with each meal shared with them; the attention you give them when they’re holding that invisible microphone and shaking their groove thing for their favorite audience; when they can feel your love as you hold them tight at night reading them their last bedtime story; with each kiss and I love you whispered in their ear. Stay at home, work at home or work out of the home.

Guilt will always be there…let love triumph!

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