Reason #3 — Why Working Moms Shouldn’t Stress about “Mommy Guilt”

Reason #1 – “Guilt is what keeps us human.”

The dictionary defines guilt as a feeling of remorse for an offense, whether real or imagined. But working mothers know “Mommy Guilt” is so much more pervasive than that: It’s how we feel far too often when we’re caught in too many “damned if we do and damned if we don’t” scenarios. It can feel inescapable.

As much as we hate it, though, guilt is what keeps us human… But the danger is that an overdose of “Mommy Guilt” can be a complete waste of time and energy, especially if it traps you in a negative cycle of thoughts.

Remember Mara, we met her in our 7 Secrets of Confident Womanseries.  If you don’t know Mara’s back-story, click here to read it.

Mara is usually up by 7 am. As soon as as she gets out of bed, she rushes to make breakfast for her kids and ensures their schoolbags and PE kits are packed. The kids are at different schools, so that’s two drop-offs six miles apart every morning.

She usually gets off work at 5 in the afternoon.  Once she picks up the kids from after-care, she taxies them to swimming, gymnastic, soccer, karate, tutoring and music lessons depending on the season. Oh yes… did I mention that she’s also in the PTA, does all her own cleaning and almost every night cooks from scratch.

At this point you may be wondering if her cape is red just like her cousin or is her cape Vogues’ trendy 2018 color of the season – lavender?  I mean really!!!  Mara is the epitome of the super mom!

But, even with all those amazing feats, Mara still struggles with guilt over not doing “MORE” for her family because of her work schedule.  How is that possible?  After everything she does, how can Mara still feel guilty for not doing more?  Well, maybe Mara’s guilt comes from somewhere deeper than her incomplete to-do list.

Where does the guilt come from?

Perhaps, her “Mommy Guilt” and her obsession over the idea of “I could do better” is actually an expression of her love and commitment to her family.  Now, an overdose of this guilt isn’t healthy, for her or her family.  However, to find some peace Mara need to recognize reason #3 why she shouldn’t let the stress of “Mommy Guilt” get to her:

All working moms have “Mommy Guilt” stories. We cringe when we remember the time we blanked during a dance recital, faked our way through a meeting after staying up all night with a sick baby or slid into our exam rooms as unobtrusively as possible after arriving late to work—again—because we couldn’t help locate the lost homework assignment.

Being a mom is hard work but it’s very important work and feeling guilty about missed opportunities is normal.  According to Dr. Dana Dorfman, “A person without guilt is a sociopath.”  Meaning – Feeling guilty only indicates that you’re a normal human being. That is why it’s important to acknowledge your guilt is real, and that it will surface many times over your lifetime, but don’t let it trap you in a negative cycle of thoughts.

OK great! So what do I do?

Chose to validate and respect the difficulty and significance of being a mother and a doctor combined with the complexity of being a living, breathing, imperfect person.  You will make mistakes, you will mess up, but it’s OK!  It’s even OK to feel guilty about it.  After all, you don’t have a cape – you’re only human.

Remember that lifetimes aren’t made up of one day or one bad choice, or one argument. A bad day doesn’t equal a bad life.  Childhoods are made of parents trying their best, with love and attention, and apologies, and examples.  They’re also made up of little kids learning, and growing, and making their own mistakes.  If you missed it today, it’s ok; there’s always tomorrow.

There you have it!

Reason #3 why you shouldn’t stress about “Mommy Guilt” is because that type of guilt is actually normal, especially for working moms.  But, that’s just one reason why you shouldn’t stress over “Mommy Guilt.”  We’ve got two more and if you think reason #3 was empowering; wait till you hear reason #2. So stay tuned as the countdown continues!

All working moms have “Mommy Guilt” stories… What’s yours?

We’re collecting “Mommy Guilt” stories. Share your stories in the comment section below for your chance to be featured in our next article in this series! This should be fun!

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