To the Mom Who Feels Guilty for Loving Her Work
I have to start this off with a confession. I sat down to write this article four different times, but couldn’t put it all into words. None of it made sense. The words sounded so silly, confusing, insignificant. But, as I sit here at the start of the school day, literally with tears in my eyes because I’ve just dropped off a five-year-old to kindergarten, a three-year-old to preschool, and I am in my new classroom waiting on a new group of students, I can honestly say that everyone is right where they are supposed to be, and it all makes sense now. I’m stepping back into the classroom after over three years at home with two of the sweetest, most special gifts of love that were given to me.
Before children, for 12 plus years, I got to be a “second mom” to hundreds of kids. While that was a daunting and exciting full-time job, I went down an unchartered course over three years ago into the stay at home mom world, commonly referred to as SAHM. Wow, what a fun, challenging, crazy, sweet, self-growth spurt I experienced. I learned more about myself and my family during those years than I ever imagined. Staying at home with my kids was one of the greatest privileges I’ve ever had.
Today, as we all embark on a new adventure, sure the normal mom questions are running through my brain: Did I do enough? Did I prepare enough? Did I stop and hold you enough? Was this a mistake? Are they ready? Am I ready?
You’re not a bad mom for wanting to work outside of the home.
While I may never really be able to answer those questions, I do have peace. I do have contentment. I do have excitement about choosing to go back into the working world. Maybe you can relate and need to know that you’re not a bad mom for wanting to work outside the home. Or maybe you are different and working isn’t a choice; it’s an absolute necessity. Either way, find comfort in everyone being right where they are supposed to be… including you.
I honestly never saw myself as a SAHM; I didn’t know I was even equipped for it. I’m learning to never say never. I’m currently doing or have done everything I said I would never do. Over the last three years, I have loved investing in my kids and will continue to do so. I have loved experiencing all the senses that come with being a SAHM—the things I got to see them do and hear them say. Watching them learn, feeling their every touch, tasting their sweet kisses (or the baby food that was spit back at me). And the smells…oh the smells of motherhood! For a SAHM, those things are never-ending. That is life, and it’s a sweet one. I would never trade the fact that I got to be the one to experience those firsts, joys, and challenges for anything.
When my husband and I decided that going back to work was an option for me, I was afraid I was going to miss so much of my kids. I’ve only officially been back to work for a couple of weeks but I’m here to tell you that my kids still talk, learn, feel, touch, kiss, act a hot mess, smell, hug, smile, cry, and more! I’ve discovered that I’m not missing so much, I actually notice more. I am more apt to stop and “see” or “hear” things because I miss them throughout the day.
We’ve all heard, “Don’t blink! They grow too fast!” Or, “They’ll be driving or in college before you know it,” and “Cherish these times.” It’s all true! Every bit of it. It’s entirely true whether you work in the home or out of it. You might be wondering why a mom would give that up to go back to work. Why would she choose to walk out of a situation that most women dream of? The real answer is simple. I did it for me.
Not the answer you were expecting? It sounds so selfish and maybe it is, but just like any mom, I’ve learned that if I make time for myself along the way and invest in myself, I’m ultimately better for them.
How did I know I was ready to go back to work?
Or should I say “our” finances? Money is an obvious and very real reason for going back to work. Every family’s financial situation is different. For us, there are definite and significant sacrifices we could make for me to stay at home, but it made more sense for me to be able to work while the kids are in school to contribute. I wanted to be able to purchase something for my kids, myself, a birthday gift, go on vacations, you name it, without feeling guilty. I wanted to help my husband out by contributing because he was about to take a pay cut. Financial reasons range on a wide spectrum, but if that’s your reason, I get it. It takes money to invest in yourself, your family, your friends, your life. If I were going to invest in myself to ultimately be better for my family in one way or another, it would most likely take some money.
It’s easy to become consumed by our families, our kids especially, and we tend to forget the passions that drove us long before kids. For some, there is a season when their passion and life goal is to be a mom and to devote all their time and energy into their children. For some, there is a season when she is to be a wife and mom but also offer herself, her time, and her talents to another area of life that she is passionate about. I’m wired to teach. Yes, I have the privilege of teaching and guiding my own children, but that is different. Not that it wasn’t enough or that I wasn’t thankful. I just know I’m supposed to be in the classroom teaching, mentoring, and offering myself and my life experiences. I love knowing that maybe I made a small difference. It juices me up. I love the excitement, the challenge, the moments that remind me of why I do what I do. I hope my kids grow up having teachers who want to teach them. It can make a world of difference.
I laugh as I write this, and if you’re a mom, you know! I missed and needed adult conversations. I needed to disconnect. I needed a challenge, to walk away, to take a break. I’ve heard people say that once you have children, going to work is like a vacation. I can completely identify now. I love my kids, more than life itself, but who doesn’t enjoy a good vacation? There is no greater responsibility than raising our kids, but what a daunting, anxious, and stressful job that can be. Teaching other peoples’ kids for a short time during the day and then sending them home to their own parents is a chance for me to breathe and let go of the pressures of raising my own. Just like any other break that we take in life, there is a chance to reflect, put things into perspective, and anticipate or look forward to the “mom life” at home.
This one is hard to explain. I just knew it was the right time. You’ll just know. (Don’t miss What to Do When You Need a Change if you need some help figuring it out!)
If you’re like me, you might feel guilty for wanting time off from this full-time job of being a SAHM. But then I realized that I’m not good for anyone, my kids included, if I don’t invest in myself too. Investing in yourself looks different from mom to mom. For some, it’s a hot bath, a pedicure, a long run, a shopping trip, a girls’ night or weekend, a conversation with another adult, or just simply taking a shower. I’m a combination of these. But as challenging and rewarding as being a SAHM was, I still felt a longing for something. (If you’re a SAHM, please don’t cringe and think I’m terrible!) I’m just being honest! Going back to work is an investment in myself. I am needed, challenged, fulfilled, and encouraged in different ways at my job outside of the home versus inside the home.
Be where you are supposed to be. And, that looks different for everyone.
If you’re a SAHM and you’re feeling as though you are still missing something, please know that it doesn’t mean you are a bad mom or that you don’t love your kids if you’re contemplating going back to work. I had to get to the point where I believed this. I had to understand that not only did I have a purpose in the home with my husband and my kids, but I also have a purpose outside of the home. I need to fulfill that purpose because perhaps there is someone who needs me. A dear friend of mine used to say, “Be where you are supposed to be, doing what you’re supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it.” I can honestly, peacefully, and joyfully say that I am.
Mama, for more encouragement, check out:
Can You Start a Career Later in Life? Absolutely
When a Strong Woman Is Quitting But Not Failing
13 Things I Need to Quit For Good Right Now
Ask Dr. Zoe – I Love Being a Working Mom, But I Need More Balance!
This Is How to Work Hard and Still Be a Great Mom
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Enjoy this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: To the Working Mom: Stop Feeling Guilty – 034!