I always get asked about how I “do it all.” The truth is, I don’t. And I feel like I don’t have it altogether more often than people think I do! (Like this week, when my Vito turns 5 and I prepare for his birthday party at the end of the week. I’ve gotten some help, thankfully.)
“Mom guilt” hits me often. It hits every mom I know—whether they’re stay-at-home-moms, WAHMs, working moms, or any kind of mom. As naturally sensitive, intuitive human beings, we can’t help but feel it sometimes.
I know it all too well!
As a mom who works from home, running her own freelance operation, I am always working. Often, my work crosses into personal time, even through I try very hard to keep the two separate. As a mother who has decided to work at home, it’s not always possible.
So I try to make things work. The first move I ever made was to keep Mondays work-free, our day for family errands and chores. It’s when we do the groceries, have a lunch date (even if it’s just in the food center of the mall), and I don’t schedule any meetings or really important work things. I’ve also made it a point to not schedule out-of-the-house meetings on a weekly basis.
But some weeks, I find myself forgetting this, and I schedule meetings, appointments and attend events, sometimes on my work-free days. During these weeks, I can feel Vito hinting at me, “Mommy, don’t go to meeting.”
Ouch. Great, kid! You really know how to “guilt” a mother!
(Seriously, though? Who can resist this face?)
While I certainly struggle with mommy guilt, there is something that has recently helped me feel a little less guilty.
On weeks when meetings are like traffic jams (ergo, “bumper-to-bumper”), I usually compromise. Last week for instance, I brought Vito along to a meeting with a blog coaching client. I don’t usually bring him to meetings with me, because I feel he might get bored or might be a distraction for me and my client. Also, sometimes I think exposing him to my world of work isn’t something he should be dealing with — I mean, he should be playing or something, right?
This time, I thought we could have lunch as a family, while I met shortly with Patty to finalize a couple of things for her blog launch. The meeting place was near our home, making it convenient for Vito to come along. He watched me and Patty work on her blog, while he and his dad ate lunch and got ready to head off for his monthly haircut. He showed her his drawings, and was his usual friendly self, to Patty’s delight, hehe. Vito left halfway through my meeting, and I wrapped things up and met them at the mall afterwards.
Later that afternoon, when we were home, he happened upon some work I was doing on my laptop and saw a photo of me and Patty on her Instagram (incidentally the only social network he’s been “exposed” to).
“Hey, mommy, that’s you!”
“Yup, that’s me. I’m helping Tita Patty have a new website, so she can be happy.”
“So that’s why you have meetings?”
I thought for a while. “Yes, that’s why Mom has to go to meetings. Not all the time, right? But sometimes.”
“Yes, it’s OK, Mommy.”
It was then that I realized: I can be proud about my work in front of my child. I can tell him how I help people with their happy projects, in the form of websites and blogs.
I am a proud working mom.
I am proud that I can do work that I love, earn from it wholeheartedly, and let my son see that I am grateful for the privilege of work.
So if you’re a working parent like me — even if you work at home, like me — remember that working doesn’t have to have a negative connotation to your kids. Sometimes we might feel “guilty” if we’re working on our laptops, at meetings with clients, or away from our kids when we’d rather be with them at home. During the times we can involve them in our work, we should represent our work as something they can find exciting. Wouldn’t it be great to impart to our children that we are chasing our dreams, following our bliss by accomplishing our goals, and that we have a life outside being a mom or dad?
Let us redeem our work in our kids’ eyers. Let’s let our jobs and our businesses be a positive testimony to our children about what is possible in the world — for ourselves, and eventually, for them, too.