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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mommy Guilt

I was eating a bowl of cereal this morning when my eyes focused on those words in a headline in The Huntsville Times.

The article was about an interesting study that says moms today are actually spending MORE time with their kids than moms in the '60s did, when the majority of moms stayed home. I thought that was so interesting because more and more moms work outside the home these days. But, despite the findings, half of the moms interviewed didn't feel they spent enough time with their children.

What mother doesn't have guilt? And from what my friends with older children tell me, it doesn't really get better as they get older.

I'll admit I have some "mommy guilt" from time to time. I question if I short-change my kids by working outside the home. I question if staying home with me would be better for them than going to daycare.

The answer for me is, no.

That's not the answer for everyone. And when it comes to the issue of staying home or working outside the home, there is no right or wrong answer. I get very angry at mothers who feel their way is the right way. Every situation is different. It's a personal decision that each mother should make.

But here's why working outside the home is the best decision for me.

I get so much pleasure from my job. I love coming to work and tackling my assignments here at the Foundation each day. I love doing a job where I KNOW I'm making a difference. And this job allows me to be home in the evenings. One of the reasons why I left WHNT was because I wanted to be home at night with my kids - and I wanted to be home at a decent hour.

I also enjoy being with adults. I enjoy the laughs I share with the girls in the office over lunch and the help we give each other when working on projects.

I think I'm a better mom because I work outside the home. Now, some of you may be critical of that statement, but let me explain.

When I get home, my children have my undivided attention. I don't talk on the phone to people. I don't get on my laptop and check email or the internet. We eat dinner as a family and then Chris and I take the girls in the backyard and let them play or we go for a stroll. Then we give them their baths, read them books and put them to bed. After that is all said and done, we have our time. That's when I can hop on the computer and do stuff or watch TV. But until my kids go to bed, they have 100% of their mommy.

When I was home on maternity leave and home all day with Lily and Ann Catherine, it was all too easy to pop a video in for her to watch. Yes, we did read books together and spend time together, but after eight hours of feeding, changing diapers and watching Elmo, mommy needed a break and getting her to sit in front of the TV and watch a video was an easy way to get one. Is that quality time with your child? I don't think so. But more and more parents have started using videos as babysitters.

At daycare, she is stimulated everyday. They have music and motor skills classes. She's learning to share with other children. They read books. She does artwork and brings something home 2-3 times a day. Would I do all of those things with her if I was home with her everyday? Probably not.

All women - those who work outside the home and those who choose to stay home with their children - will probably always have some "mommy guilt." We'll probably never feel we are doing enough.

The important thing is that you do what is right for YOUR family and YOUR child. And don't let anyone else make you feel guilty for making that choice.

I couldn't find The Huntsville Times article on the internet, but I did find another one about this particular study in The Birmingham News. Click here to read it and let me know what you think.

3 comments:

Tracibobaci said...

I saw that same article and was surprised, as well. I definitely have Mommy guilt. It's great that you are doing what's best for you, so many other mothers, myself included, don't have that choice. I work because we need the income, otherwise I would love to be a stay at home mom. Maybe someday, though! Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I hear ya. And BTW: I love keeping up with your blog! Keep the posts coming. = )

Carissa said...

Up until we moved here in October 05, I had always worked full-time. My boys were both in daycare since they were 6 weeks and everyone was fine. We spent time together in the evenings and on the weekends as much as possible.

Now, that I live here, I have been a stay at home mom. I used to think it would be the greatest thing to be at home with my children. I think I felt that for the most part because my employer was not "child friendly".

The first year that I worked there, it was just me. Then, after working there for almost a year, I got pregnant. I was dating a very horrible man and we ended up not staying together. So, I was a single mother just trying to pay the bills and take care of my son. I had my own apartment and was going to school part time.

When my son was 2 1/2, I began seeing the man that is now my husband. We had known each other for about 4 years at this point and when his apartment he had was being sold, the natural thing for us was to have him move in with me.

Once, he began to be a part of my family, then all the comments started. Ryan (my son) would be sick and they would say, "Why can't Jay stay home with him?" Of course, my reply didnt seem good enough. To me, Jay seemed the correct one to go to work because he made more money per hour than I did. Why am I going to go to work and let him miss out on the day.

Now that I am a stay at home mom, there are advantages to it that I see but, I am really missing going to work. It seems that now, I have no adult interaction besides my husband and that can seem to get a little lonely at times. Plus, I would love to find other kids for my boys to play with but, it just seems like we just can't meet people that are compatiable to be our friends.

Amy George said...

Traci and Carissa,
Thank you for your comments! They are proof of what I said in my post - what's best for one mom may not be best for another. We are all different and so are our situations. I wish you both the best of luck as you figure out what's best for your families. Thanks for posting and I hope you'll continue to stop by and leave your thoughts!

Amy