The Working Mom Guilt Pendulum

A week ago, I felt terrible because I had to call out of work after picking up some of PJ’s germs that kept me home the whole previous week taking care of him. Even though my company is very family friendly and my boss was nothing but kind and understanding about it, I still put myself on a massive guilt trip over the parts of my job I wasn’t getting done. So I coped by telling myself that I was being a good mom and in the big picture, that counts more, right?

Cue the pendulum swing…

Sunday night, PJ’s teeth were bothering him, and he woke me up early on Monday morning. Like, 4 am early. That was rough, but I figured I could deal. Until Monday night, when the “putting baby to bed” plan that started at 8:30 stretched on, and on, and on…until all of a sudden it’s 2 am and I’m collapsed in a puddle of tired on the nursery floor next to a baby that just won’t stop crying. And because his teeth hurt, every time I pick him up, I get bit.

At this point, I know that if I go past the 24 hour awake mark there is no way  I’m going to make it to work, and I can’t call out again because I have a big meeting with several people I won’t be able to reschedule easily if at all. So I went back to my room and was tired enough to pass out for a three hour nap and get up for work.

My husband can tell you, I paid for that nap all day long in feeling guilty – I was so sad that I couldn’t stick it out and cuddle the baby all night like he wanted and then be home to sleep during the day when he finally went down for a nap. And even with Paul telling me over and over that it was OK and PJ was fine,  I totally felt like one of those awful stock photos they use on the cover of every magazine article about working moms ever published. You know, the ones where a crying, neglected child wails while Mean Feminist Mommy takes a business call, types on a laptop, and is much more interested in her cup of coffee than her kid (although I can kind of sympathize with that last one if she’s as sleep deprived as I am).

Most days, I’m happy about being a working mom – I like my job, feel good about what I do, and who wouldn’t get an instant mood boost from coming home to this every day?


But then, no matter how good I feel about what I’m doing, at some point I start to feel bad about what I’m not doing. There’s that pendulum, swing swing swing!

I feel much better today, not coincidentally because he slept last night. But I have a feeling this is just the first of many times where I’ll end up having to decide who needs me more, and then second, third, and fourth guess myself.

Tell me it gets easier, please! And yes, it’s ok to lie!