Friday, March 16, 2012

More from the Mom Guilt Files

If you'll forgive me the rare serious moment here - we'll get back to emergency shoe developments shortly - I just can't shake this morning's excellent post from Erin, which discusses the confidence that comes with owning the decision to parent in the way that works best for her family (which is staying at home in her case), in a culture which can't quite decide how it feels about that choice.

I've had a heavy heart - yes, I do have an icy, shriveled-up one in here somewhere - reading how many of you have also struggled with feelings of guilt over whichever "work while having kids or not" solution you've come up with. All of us parents deal with guilt, but specifically, a number of you stay-at-home parents have described feelings of guilt over not pursuing a career, guilt over enjoying staying at home, guilt at "not contributing anything" to a marriage (I detest even typing that one, it's so full of NO), guilt at spending any money on yourself, guilty guilty guilty GUILT.

Phew. That's a lot of guilt, Pretties.

I don't know how, but of all the many (MANY) things I like to worry about, I feel fortunate that this particular form of guilt hasn't gotten to me - yet. Though I've been irked with the judgment of others about my stay-at-home decision, once the Anoymous Husband and I made that choice, I like to think that we've owned it.  I've selfishly struggled with the ego hit of no longer having a fancy pants lawyer title, but I haven't for a second felt guilty about shelving a career that ultimately wasn't right for me, in favor of one that is absolutely right for my family.

I feel no guilt in taking care of this full time. I just don't. Worry, yes - guilt, no.

As far as society, there are people who will mock us for whatever we decide, whatever their motivation is for doing so. I type this knowing that there are plenty who will read and roll their eyes at me here. I can't control what others think of my decisions, but I can control the decision itself; you may not like my choices, but that doesn't mean they are wrong. Easier said than done, of course, but there's comfort in that.

If there is to be any guilt, let it be that there are parents who would like a different situation, whether that be finding a job outside the home or staying in it (BECAUSE I AM FINE WITH WHATEVER YOU DECIDE, AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME SAY OTHERWISE, NEENER NEENER PUMPKIN EATER!!!), and can't afford it or otherwise find a way to make that change. I'm not sure I can do anything about that aside from hate it, but I do. Would that we could find a way to help families emotionally and financially reach the right decision for them.

As we set off for the weekend, I waive my magic wand - which is pink and sparkly, obvs. - and declare this a guilt-free zone. Let's own our choices to work outside of the home or not, society be hanged. I wish I could spare all of us the agony of worrying what others think about that right choice.

This job is awesome, even when it isn't. It is, and I say that guilt free. Pinky swear.


Adrienne said...

Hey! Powerful post. Thank you. I have for since I can remember, aspired to be a SAHM when I get there. That doesn't mean I haven't had other/additional dreams, but it's pretty big on my list of things I want to do, but I ALREADY feel guilt over that someday-decision. So, thanks for aspiring confidence and speaking out for us not-so-norm-anymores. And for women all around, who have the right to choose and live guilt-free with that decision.

Blue-Eyed Bride said...

What is it with the guilt, anyway? But you know what i love? That you can relate to me. That there is one other mom who says out loud (or in writing) that she knows how it is. :) Thanks for writing, Mel!

Tippy said...

I can't be bothered with feeling guilty about it. I am TOO busy doing my JOB to feel guilty that I'm not contributing. I don't feel guilty that I stay home and don't "work" because I WORK, you know? I don't collect a paycheck and so I do feel a small about of guilt about spending money on myself (which is why I feel like my wardrobe is always lacking). But I don't feel guilty about staying home. And I'm also not counting the days until I can go back to work. In fact, as long as I have kids at home, I hope I never have to (and YES, I know how incredibly fortunate I am to have this be a reality). I would eventually like to work part-time when my kids are older, but when they're teenagers they will need supervision even more, I think.

I don't know - every family has to make its own decisions. And I love the decision we made. Full stop.

(That picture of Master P is about the cutest expression ever. Does he get everything he wants using that? I can imagine it's tough to be tough!)


Chas said...

I've never had any guilt over my decision. My career wasn't right for me (for my personality or interests) and I hope to NEVER EVER go back to it. In the long run, caring for Georgia is much more important, to me, than anything I or my family would ever gain from me working outside the home.

Sometimes I DO feel guilty because I don't do enough housework or I eat too many bowls of ice cream as my afternoon snack. It's been difficult for me to get in a groove of running the household since I've always worked 60+ hours a week and let a housekeeper handle pretty much everything. I no longer have that luxury, but I am becoming more proficient.

Every day/week/month gets a little easier for me, and I'm so so so thankful that my husband's career affords me THIS luxury of being at home with my daughter.

Kimberly S. Lin said...

What a really powerful and meaningful post. Everyone is motivated by different things. I personally consider myself a pretty modern career woman but I made a change so I could work from home. It doesn't make me any less ambitious...

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