On Doing It All

In the life of a mother there is an endless list of things to feel badly about.

Mostly, I have left the mommy-guilt phase behind. I spent a lot of time in that head-space when my kids were small. Even as I spent so much energy trying to do right by them I also felt I was doing something to ruin them at every turn. Every time something went wrong for one of them, I, at least in part, turned the finger of blame upon myself.

Then I realized that they’re pretty great kids. And they have good lives. And that every parent makes mistakes. And that usually those mistakes aren’t that big of a deal anyway. And yeah. I let it go. Mostly.

Today I’m feeling guilty. Just a little – I’m not having a bad day. I’m generally happy. The sun is shining and I’m being productive and I’m having a good time and I feel like a good mother. I have a little girl sick at home and I’m enjoying caring for her. I’m so glad that I get to do it.

I feel guilty now. Not as a mother, but as an employee. Because last week I missed a day of work to nurse my other daughter while she was home sick, now I’m missing a second day, and I’ve already booked two days off later this month to travel with my family to Vancouver for our semi-annual trip to the BC Children’s Hospital. That’s four days out of the month – combined, almost an entire week of work – away from my office responsibilities to take care of my priorities.

And priorities they are. When I applied for my job there were two big reasons why I wanted it. The first reason was the place of employment. I love my church, I loved working there part time in another capacity, and I want to give my daily efforts to the cause of the local church. I am blessed to be able to be. I know it. But the other, equally weighted reason I wanted the job is because I knew it would allow me to make my family the priority. I wanted the job precisely for times like these.

I know I shouldn’t feel bad but I do. Why?

When I was out with run club after church yesterday some of us ladies were talking about work-life balance and about the guilt. There were about six of us in the conversation and each one of us has kids, ranging in age from 6 months to 12 years. Most of us work in the 20 – 35 hour per week range, and even the ones who stay home feel the pressure that they’re not contributing to their households financially. Returning to work is as much of a pressure for them as going to work is for the rest of us. A few of us, stay at home and working mothers alike, hire out certain jobs – the cleaning, the cooking, one of us even has a nanny. But every one of us who hires out feels so, so bad that we don’t just do these things ourselves.

We feel guilty about our mothering. We feel guilty as employees. We feel guilty about our lack of housekeeping and gardening and community involvement. We feel guilty about everything. We were wondering… why.

Then someone said it.

We want to give 100% everywhere.

I think that’s right. There are other contributing factors, to be sure. I also think that we women are much harder on ourselves than anyone else is. But that statement pretty much sums it up for me. I wish I could do everything better. I want to give 100% everywhere.

What do you think? Do you feel guilty? How come?

5 thoughts on “On Doing It All

  1. Yep, I feel guilty a lot. Not sure that will ever change, it’s just how I am. I am wired to be that way and that is aside from the fact that I am a mother (which tends to add guilt, at least from what I’ve observed). I just try to deal with it as best I can.
    I hope your girls are feeling heaps better now.

  2. I go through spells of feeling guilty. Currently I’m feeling guilty for not contributing financially to the household. Now that our girls are young adults they don’t need me like they used to and there’s no real reason for me to be a stay-at-home-mom anymore. But every time I consider looking for a job it just doesn’t sit right in my spirit. So I’m waiting to see what God has in store for me and feeling guilty all the while.

  3. Yup. I think feeling guilty is part and parcel of being a mom. I felt super guilty when I began a part time job from home when I was still homeschooling 2 of my 4 kids. I felt bad that I was torn between two things and couldn’t give my best to either one.

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