The Tragedy of the Working Mother

You’ve been there, haven’t you?  You’re rushing home from working late, hoping to squeeze in a little quality time with the kids somewhere between a thrown-together dinner and a high-speed bath before bedtime.  Your best friend calls.  “Oh, by the way, [insert name of stay-at-home mom here] says that her little girl is already counting to 50!  And she’s potty trained!  It’s a good thing she gets to spend so much time with her.”

It’s like someone just handed you a guilt trip right through the phone.

As a mom, I’ve really tried to deal with my guilt.  I always felt like it would really be best for the kids if I stayed home, but I couldn’t afford it.  I’ve slogged through life with my kids in one hand and my guilt in the other, and needed several more hands for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and maybe stealing a little time to read.  Or, heaven forbid, sleep.

For awhile I lived as a single mother.  I worked late many nights, and by the time I got the kids picked up and back home there just wasn’t enough time for everything.  I didn’t teach my babies sign language.  They never went to pre-K because the schedule didn’t jive with my work hours.  Violet absolutely refused to get a head start on numbers or letters before school started.

My youngest just started kindergarten, which is what got me thinking about all this, about all those other mothers who stayed home with their kids and gave them such an advantage over my poor children.  Claire is the youngest of three, which means she has always just been part of the chaos of a big family instead of a brilliant youngster with a dedicated mother.  Would she be behind?  Would she suffer?

Then I got her test results from the beginning of the year.


You see those blue dots?  Those blue dots are my child.  MY child, who’s pre-school education mostly included a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I was getting ready in the morning.


You see that dot?  The one so far up there that it’s almost off the chart?  That dot means that I’m not a bad mom.  That dot means that somewhere along the lines I did something right.  That dot means that the weekend trips to the library and the discussions in the car about everything we saw around us actually meant something.  That dot means that I don’t have to feel so guilty.  And neither, fellow working mother, do you.




Filed under Family, Parenting, Work

6 responses to “The Tragedy of the Working Mother

  1. I worked full time when my oldest son was little and now I’m a stay at home mom with my youngest. It doesn’t matter how a mom spends her days, there is always guilt involved, unfortunately. Yet our children always find a way to show us that we are doing at least SOMETHING right just when we need it most!

    • I wonder why we feel so much guilt? And it seems to be most prevalent in those of us that are working the hardest to raise our children. At any rate, the rewards are certainly there! I always tell my childless friends that it’s all worth it when you get a hug from one of your kids!

      • It’s true. The harder you work and the more you love your family, the more guilt you feel. I guess it’s because most moms realize there is just not enough time in the day to do everything so anytime one thing is being done, you realize another is being neglected. But hugs, kisses and I love yous (my favorite!) are the best! As they get older, you get less hugs and kisses but nothing beats the feeling when your 11 year old son gives you a great big hug in front of all his friends!

      • Aw! That is so sweet! And definitely a sign that you know you’re doing something right!

  2. I would think the fact that you take care of your kids and make sure they are fed, clothed, clean and loved makes you a good mom.
    Of course, the bragging rights are nice too.

    • Yes, you would think that the simple fact of keeping them alive and healthy would be enough, but no! There’s always more! I think today’s competitive parenting is to blame.

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