Nearly thirteen years ago, I became a mother, and pretty much since that day, I have been trying to figure out how to get over working mom guilt. I have been a working mom for all 12 of those years. While I have been fortunate enough to work with my children in tow, being a working mother comes with guilt.
I have yet to meet a mother who works (or doesn’t work out of the home- SAHMs are some of the hardest working moms I know) who doesn’t have some sort of guilt. Guilt for missing time with your children, guilt about missed games, guilt for not spending enough quality time with your children.
Guilt about less-than-stellar dinners, guilt for feeling exhausted at the end of the day and going through the motions. I really could go on for days filling you in on all the little things my guilt-ridden mama heart feels. The good news is, I’ve learned to fight that guilt through photography.
How to fight working mom guilt
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1. It shows me that despite the fact that I work, my kids are generally happy people. Do they have meltdowns or cry? Of course they do! But at the end of the day they are really pretty happy.
Photographs remind me that my children laugh, and smile so big their cheeks look like they hurt, and their eyes are shut. So far, I don’t seem to have squelched their joy.
2. It reminds me exactly why I work. I would need to work regardless of whether or not I had children, but the reason I work the way I do is to provide for our children in ways that would otherwise be impossible.
Trips to the zoo or vacation at the beach, hockey teams, and birthday parties — even things as mundane as putting food on the table or dressing the kids. When I look back at images from the days gone by, there will always be something reminding me why we work as hard as we do, and why it’s totally worth it in the long run.
3. It proves that my children are completely capable of forming wonderful, loving relationships with all different kinds of people, despite their “absent” mother. OK, truth be told, I am not an absentee mother.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I feel like I am, even if I am physically there. I can’t even begin to count the times one of my children has told me a story while I was in the middle of working, only to have me absently nod my head and pretend to listen as I continue to focus on work. It happens more than I care to admit, but that’s the nature of the beast.
I work while my kids are home, and sometimes, I need to focus on something pressing, and that means nodding in agreement even if I’m not really listening. They know it, and I know it.
But oh, the guilt. When I look at pictures of my children interacting with their friends, siblings, grandparents, daddy, cousins, and me, I know that they are no worse for it.
4. It freezes important moments, and reminds me that I do indeed spend quality time with my children. We can be insanely hard on ourselves. Photography is a visual reminder of things we don’t tend to give ourselves credit for. I have a habit of telling myself that I don’t spend any real time with my children.
I guess if I haven’t spent the entire day fulfilling a preschool curriculum with my children, or picnicking at the playground, I convince myself I haven’t spent any quality time with them. Looking back through images of that day or any other day helps me to silence those thoughts!
5. It forces me to stop what I am doing, and actually be in the moment. So often I am busy focusing on other things and I miss being in the moment we are in. Multitasking is my middle name. That means I am always juggling a million balls.
The minute I pull out my camera or my phone to capture a moment, all of my focus goes to that moment. It also usually redirects me beyond the moment of the picture-taking. While I may have stopped what I was doing initially to take the picture, once the picture is taken it’s rare that I immediately return to multitasking.
The next time you’re feeling guilty about your parenting abilities, take out that camera. It never fails to put things into perspective.