It is easier said than done. I recently read an article quoting actress Meryl Streep, who has 4 grown up children, on feeling guilty as a working mother. In an article published by contramusic.com the actress said, “Every day is some kind of compromise if you are a working woman. There is a different set of expectations, and there is a guilt that is self-generated and condoned in the larger society. In every profession, men are held to a completely different standard of parenthood.”
If we as mothers cannot change the standard then how do we stop feeling guilty about the situation? In a video for the New York Times Victoria Beckham shares that she spends long hours in her office and aims at going back home before her children go to bed. Many working mothers can relate to that. I would definitely try to see the children at least in the mornings and the evenings and the same is valid for celebrities working mothers as well. The major issue which causes guilt comes from the fact that we cannot spend enough time with our children especially when working long hours.
Obviously some mothers manage to win the guilt game. In the same video Victoria Beckham talked about asking another successful working mother, designer and business woman Diane von Furstenberg, about feeling guilt due to working and having children to which she responded, “Never”. The bottom line is that when we have to work, whether it is our choice or not, we feel guilty that we are not good mothers and we should not.
From the perspective of a mother of two toddlers and a baby, working before having kids seems like a piece of cake. Once you are over twenty life is very much a rollercoaster. I tend to believe that the most difficult time to balance career and personal life is when you reach 30s or 40s. Those are the years when we are supposed to achieve so much. It is not only the society that imposes norms on us. This is naturally the time when a professional is done for the most part with university and grad school and gets ahead of their career and simultaneously when we are biologically set to have children and raise families. Once that we reach a certain age, we have a plate full of too many personal and professional responsibilities.
The best advice to all working mothers who are feeling some guilt is to create a list of all the things that make them happy because they go to work and are able to pay the bills vs. a list of all the things that would make them happy if they were not working. We all have different preferences and reasons to go back to work after having a baby. For some of us that is building connections and their own business, for others it is a way of being socially active, or simply being able to afford more fun activities with the children and so on. Whatever your reasons are, if the Happy working mother list is longer then you should feel good about the choice you made.
I would like to leave the subject with some words of wisdom by momentity.com, “You can be a good mother and still follow your dreams. You totally can, if you so desire.”