Working Mom Guilt

Painful Feelings

When maternity leave is over, finances may force you to return to work, or you may just feel the need to do something outside of the home and it is almost inevitable that you will feel some guilt at leaving your baby or your children in someone else's care. Justified or not, the feeling is very painful. While logic may not factor into your all too real feelings, the best way to combat such negative emotion is to refute it with the truth.

Women today don't depend on men to support their every need. The modern woman is self-reliant. That means that women who trade in their option to work are robbing themselves of a measure of independence and identity. The loss of the sense of self is bound to have an effect on a woman's mothering. She may feel depressed or cut off from society. She may feel she has little control over her life and has ceded all responsibility to her husband. She is liable to experience regret for her choice at a later date.


Society has labeled working women as having placed their careers before their children—they are seen as somehow cold, while stay at home mothers are deemed as warm Earth Mother types. This kind of stereotyping has an effect on how a woman perceives her choice to reenter the workforce. She may think the choice is between being cold and being warm, when logic should tell her that this is a nonsensical idea.

There is another stereotype at play, too. Women who work are considered selfish and those who stay at home are seen as giving. Work does build a woman's sense of self, there is no doubt about it, but the more a woman strengthens herself, the stronger she is as an individual and therefore as a mother and a role model.

Stay at home mothers risk becoming filled with resentment at having to depend on their husbands for pocket and shopping money. They may find themselves jealous at the fact that there is so little to tell their husbands at the end of the day when they return home from work. They may worry that their husbands will find them boring and look elsewhere for female companionship.

Once a woman stops for a reality check, it's easy for her to see that returning to work does not equal the abandonment of motherhood. Guilt is not a productive emotion, and this is all the more true when it is based on nothing more than empty logic. So, take a deep breath, throw your shoulders back, and get ready to reenter the workforce. Your family will thank you, and you'll be glad, too.