Navigating Mom Guilt – unsolicited advice from friends

It’s Easter Sunday – happy Easter to those who celebrate! I’m sitting in the sun with two incredibly sweet, brilliant friends as we celebrate a 40th birthday for one of them. And I’m experiencing a bit of mom guilt. It’s Easter, I’m away from my family, my husband and son went to his sporting event without me, my daughter is alone. Oh geez. Even as I write, my guilt mounts. We’ve all called home, asked about the Easter bunny, checked in on our babies – from 1 year to 18 years – and our husbands are MORE than capable. And yet…

Navigating mom guilt is hard. I’ve learned, over time, that we can give ourselves grace but the pull will always be there. It feels especially hard as a working mom. How do you navigate guilt that inevitably pops up as parents? I have a captive audience here, so I’m checking in with them. 

Here you go:

Rebecca, a clinical pharmacist and manager for a large retail pharmacy, two kids. 

Me: How do you navigate mom guilt?

R: (Laughing) I lay in the sun. But really, I try to make the most of the time I DO have with them. 

I pray about it. I try to be present when I am there. I call you. 

I tell you about how I make mistakes and you reassure me that the same things happened when your son was young. I ask for advice from moms I trust. 

Me: How big is that circle?

R: 3 or 4?

Me: What’s the hardest part of being away from your kids on this trip?

R: Missing the little moments. Maybe not being part of their memories. Missing their hugs and kisses. 

Me: What about when you work back to back days – when you get home late from the pharmacy or don’t see them in the morning? 

R: How do I deal with that? Not very well. The next time I’m off, I try to pick one up from daycare early. Have special time. I try to get home quickly if I can, even if it’s just reading a book to my son. 

I definitely try not to talk about work until they’re asleep. 

I do like my commute though, that’s a benefit of having a commute. I can process it, or calm down, or let it go. I think if my work was closer, I’d bring a lot more home. 

Me: What helps you when you make mistakes?

R: I’m an older mom. I’ve been wrong a lot. (Laughing). Therapy. I’ve learned how to repair in other relationships. I’ve learned from what I felt as a child and how it felt when things weren’t repaired. 

Me: Any last bit of advice on navigating working mom life & self-care?

R: Sometimes you’ve just got to sit in the sun. You have to make sure you’re ok. Go on hikes. Go out to dinners. Stop comparing yourself to others. Be with your loved ones. Play.

Abbey, a PA and the Program Director of a PA program, also a mom of two.

Me: How do you navigate mom guilt?

A: As far as being away from them, I just try to be really present when I am with them. I just love the nothingness. Just sit and cuddle on the couch. Hugs when I get home. I try to tell them every time I am with them how much I love them. 

But as far as feeling bad about how I handle something. (sigh). I try to realize when I need a break, when I need help. If I feel like I was truly mean, I try to apologize and do better. 

Me: Where did you learn how to repair?

A: (Big sigh, pause). I knew what I needed when I was a kid and didn’t get. 

Me: So then what?

A: I wanted to be very communicative with my kids. I wanted to show them it’s ok to mess up and say how you feel. 

Me: How has that changed things for you?

A: It’s shown me I don’t have to be perfect. I can be vulnerable. I can say what I need. 

Me: Any last bit of advice on navigating working mom life & self-care?

A: You have to be very intentional about the use of your time. Carving out time for you and your kids. At the end of the day, I feel like if your kids know how much you love them and they feel that, it’s more important than how often you’re with them. The time you spend with your kids, telling them and showing them how much you love them – even if it’s not much time – is ultimately what they need. 

Well, that’s two perspectives. There are a lot more. I’d love to know how all of you navigate guilt that inevitably comes with parenting. Tell me – what helps you?

Until next time, please know you’re doing a great job.