Working Mom Guilt: Who Needs It Anyway?
“I am the worst mom ever!” I said out loud yesterday afternoon, to no one in particular. My co-worker Jessica, who sits next to me, asked what was up. I explained that I had just asked Chris to pick Mason up from school because I was swamped and wasn’t going to be able to make it there on time. I felt a mixture of relief and misery when he said yes. I hate missing out on time with Mason.
“Today you’re a good worker and a bad mom. Some days you might be a good mom and a bad worker. Other days it’ll all go to h-ll. That’s just how it is,” she said. Truer words have never been spoken.
Jessica is a pro at this working mom thing (in my opinion, anyway). She has two kids (ages 6 and 9), a hubby with a super hectic work schedule, and a big job at American Baby (our sister mag), so she balances a lot. She was spot-on, but I still felt guilty as I shut my computer down at 7:15 and scrambled for the subway so I could at least give Mason hugs and kisses before he went to bed (luckily it all worked out).
At this point, I rarely indulge my working mom guilt. I try to acknowledge it and then move on before it starts to eat at me. In fact, I thought I was over the whole thing entirely until this afternoon when a co-worker sent me an ABC News report about a new study by Cornell University. Researchers found American moms with full-time jobs spend roughly three-and-half fewer hours a day than nonworking moms attending to their kids’ diet and exercise. The “news” hardly came as a surprising, but it definitely annoyed me.
Of course I feel guilty when an obligation takes me away from my kid. Researchers are comparing me to working moms and then reporting on my shortcomings!
What about the fact that when I’m not preparing Mason’s food, he’s eating organic meals with his friends? Or that he’s getting tons of exercise even though I’m not with him all day, by taking soccer, yoga, and dance lessons? What about the fact that I’m providing for my family?
I think my fellow blogger Jill Cordes sums it up nicely in her post on the same topic: “Whether you stay at home or work, just love your child, feed them nutritious meals, have whomever is watching them feed them nutritious meals, have them exercise—with or without you—and instill in them the importance of healthy living.”
And here’s an idea. Instead of fanning the flames of the mommy wars by comparing working moms to nonworking moms, why don’t these researchers redirect their efforts to curing cancer?
Anyone else with me on this one?