When Karen, a mother of two, had to leave for a week-long business trip, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. She had made several after-school play dates for her oldest daughter and had taken advantage of the maximum hours at her youngest daughter's daycare. It was a difficult week for her husband to leave work early, so she had no choice but to rely on other people to fill the voids of childcare for her children.
"I barely enjoyed my trip because I was so worried about the feelings of my girls," says Karen. "We had gone over what the schedule would be while I was away, and I could see the anxiety in their eyes. This was a new experience for them. It was especially unfortunate that my trip coincided with a big presentation that my husband had at work. I wanted so badly to cancel my trip, but it was something that I had to do for my job."
A Universal Mom Problem
Working mothers face these types of challenges all the time. Mixed with the responsibilities they have to their children are the commitments they have to their careers. And they are not alone. Stay-at-home mothers deal with guilt as well.
Amy, a mother of three, recalls, "I typically spend seven days a week, 24 hours a day with my children. I was desperate for a block of time to call my own. I finally gave in to a schedule that included two afternoons a week of babysitting, only to feel guilty about the money spent for the sitter. I had a hard time justifying it since I wasn't working. I also felt guilty about the time I was spending away from my children."
Working Through Guilty Emotions
Nearly all mothers have experienced some form of guilt—whether it's a feeling that they haven't done enough for their children or a sense of guilt over choosing to do something for themselves without their kids. So, how do mothers work through these emotions?