Do we have a cure for working mom’s guilt?
Over the last few years of my professional life, several times have I been made to feel guilty of the desire to reach home on time. Work-from-home days pose out to be an even greater challenge since throughout the day, I am left to juggle between household chores, spending quality time with my child and meeting my own professional expectations. It’s truly a work of art to be able to flawlessly manage roles both at home and work with equal efficiency. The starvation to reach excellence on both fronts has led me onto a seemingly endless and exhaustive journey. So far, I have been making unsuccessful attempts to convince myself that being a physically present parent is not my first priority. If nothing else, it gives me a perception of work-life balance.
Apparently I am not alone in this struggle. According to Sheryl Sandberg, 43% of highly qualified women with children end up leaving their jobs because they are unable to catch up with the rising demands of family. Since I wished not to be in this 43% category, I joined back work while leaving my 6-month old with a supportive mother-in-law. Although lucky to have an extended family, I was missing out on key moments of my daughter’s life. To make it even worse, work couldn’t be just left at office and the need to stay awake for most parts of night made parenting an all-intrusive and encompassing virtue.
Some women prioritize career while others choose their kids. However, there are quite a few, including myself, who try to tussle through both worlds and often feel they aren’t succeeding at either! While we always knew that going back to work after maternity is going to be tough, many of us find ourselves overwhelmed, unprepared, and often at crossroads with conflicting priorities. Burden of this self-imposed pressure starts from the very day baby is born when relatives, in-laws, blogs and social media inundate us with a lot of information. The struggle continues after joining back work as we start to cope up with the new way of life, and somehow that has to be managed while trying to prove that we haven’t lost the skills we had before the maternity break.
As working moms, our heart is torn between love for children and career. On the face of it, we might appear to be tough superwomen taking special care of every single need of our children and at the same time giving in our best at workplace. However, it’s hard to balance both sides and we are constantly ridden with guilt for not being able to spend enough time on either side. I often ask myself if it possible for anyone out there to be a woman, a mother, a worker and an achiever, all in one, at the same time, but haven’t found an answer yet!