Riff: Say Good-bye to Mother Guilt

Most of the time, I don’t suffer from guilt. Let’s face it, guilt is annoying and it takes up a lot of our time, usually with little to no return in the long run.

So when a reader of Writer Mama marked me off a star in her Amazon review for not including a chapter on guilt, I was somewhat taken aback.

(Of course, I was. I expect five star reviews and nothing else 😉 …so this is worth talking about.)

I guess she assumes all moms feel guilt, especially if they choose to work, and especially if they choose to work at something they really love.

Is that true? Do you feel guilty if you choose to work? Do you feel bad? Ashamed? Selfish?

Now let me ask you this: Does your partner feel guilty for working? Would he feel worse if he loved his work?

Truth is, I feel more guilty about not keeping up better with long-distance friends and family than I do guilty about working.

My daughter has is made! Her mom works at home and her dad works next-door (at the high school).

Then again, some people are such good writers that by exploring their guilt in  depth, they help me to understand that other moms feel differently than I do. And, I confess, I was probably more susceptible to the ravages of mommy guilt when Samantha was little. So, check out this entry by Abigail Green, I confess, on mommy guilt and then come back and tell me, do you suffer from it? Why? Where does it come from? And more importantly, how can we get rid of it?

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10 Responses to “Riff: Say Good-bye to Mother Guilt”


  1. 1 Tiffani December 3, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Like you, I rarely feel guilty. But with nearly every other mother constantly feeling guilty for something or other, it makes me wonder if I should feel guilty for NOT feeling guilty about working or sometimes snatching an hour to myself. 🙂

    But I don’t. Sure, I wish I had more time to spend with my daughter in the afternoons after school or that I could take her places in the evenings (I work nights), but I don’t feel guilty. My hard work is providing her with food, clothing, shelter and fun on the weekends.

    We all have enough to handle without adding guilt to the mix. Let go and be guilt-free.

    Happy holidays!

  2. 2 Linda Harris December 3, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    The only time I feel guilty about working is when I’m on a deadline and I have to tell my family, “Leave me alone!” I’ve gotten over the guilt of not cooking for them (my husband does a lot of the cooking, and the kids are in their twenties–it’s time they learn to cook for themselves).

  3. 3 jens0874 December 3, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    “…try to make amends; and give yourself credit for what you do right.”

    This is my favorite passage from the blog entry from Abigail Green.

    The biggest lesson I learned and have clung to since having my babies (currently one young baby, one older baby) is from my mother.

    “Let it go,” she advised, “and quickly.”

    This is what she said one night when I felt guilty about feeling angry. Her words have been my staple. Let it go and move on. The quicker the better.

    Do make amends.

    Try again next time.

    Give yourself credit for all you do right in a day.

    All excellent advise.

    I don’t feel guilty for working on things like my writing or exercise because they set a good example about health, eduacation, potential, and challenge. When I keep all my priorities in line it creates a nice balance and doesn’t fester guilt.

  4. 4 Christine December 4, 2007 at 5:59 am

    Guilt? What guilt? I have no guilt. After being kept up by a child who didn’t sleep more than an hour at a stretch for two years, threw up everything she consumed on a constant basis for six months [I was her favorite target, I might add], and had such severe colic that she screamed for eight months straight ’round the clock — I don’t have time for guilt. Whoever said the first five years is like bootcamp was right on the money. It’s amazing I had another child after all of that.

    I was almost exhausted just reading that blog post on guilt. My question is, what kind of child do you raise when all they see is a parent embarassed by them? How do you find energy to do anything else when you’re so busy feeling guilty for EVERYTHING?

    Personally, DH and I decided to limit our outings. We have “date-night Saturdays” where we put the kids to bed, cook a nice meal that we enjoy that does not involve finger food but does include candles and wine. We watch a movie that does not have either animation or catchy tunes that keep us up at 3a.m. We do not have a rousing social life, but neither are we wracked with guilt over trying to fit our kids into our “old life.”

    My kids are loud, messy, inappropriate at times, and are…well KIDS. We have a new, richer, life now, and it suits us all just fine.

  5. 5 mommybug December 4, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Oh my goodness! I loved Abigail’s story. My daughter has had her share of melt-downs in Wal-Mart, and talk about embarrassing! I don’t feel particularly guilty about working during the time I allot myself each morning. If I go over the allotted time, however, I tend to feel a twinge of guilt. I try to not let it get to me too much.:)

  6. 6 Mary Jo C. December 4, 2007 at 9:16 am

    Whew! After reading Abigail’s guilty unpleaseures, I am realieved I do not feel that guilty. When I was a new mom, sure, I felt guilty for everything. But after many life changes and baby #2 now almost 4-yrs-old, the guilt went out the window! It had to – I was too exhausted!

    I work full time days out of the house and write at night and weekends. But I am always improving my prioriteis and organizing my schedule, so my family doesn’t end up with the “leftover” me – and so my writing doesn’t, either!

    It’s all about balance…the life of a woman!

  7. 7 realworldmartha December 4, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I do have some guilt but not about working. I do feel like the more we look to people the more guilt we have. The more we look above the less guilt is there.
    Debbie aka The Real World Martha (S)

  8. 8 Lis Garrett ~ a writer's woolgatherings December 4, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Actually, I feel guilty when I’m not working and making a financial contribution. My family knows that writing makes me a happier person, and I just feel more productive. Plus, my oldest daughter has begun to write stories of her own since watching me work from home. Of that, I am proud!

  9. 9 Rebecca Laffar-Smith December 4, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    I actually feel guiltier when I’m NOT working. If it’s because of a particular treat for the kids then I don’t feel guilty but when I take a day off simply for myself or because I’m having issues I can’t seem to work through I feel guilty that I’m not being a responsible adult, working to earn the income needed to support my children.

    I guess it helps that my oldest is now old enough to understand and appreciate what it is I do and how that benefits all our lives. She’s proud of her Writer Mama. 😉 The added advantage for those of us who can work from home is that, although we often work long, hard hours, we have the opportunity to work around the pressing needs of our families. Despite working I can still pick her up from school every day and rearrange an hour out of my schedule to take her to the park if it’s particularly lovely outside.

    Ultimately, there is a lot LESS to feel guilty about then for working mothers in other industries. I guess the only true reason to allow guilt a place in our hearts is if our children are suffering. My kids thrive on their sense of strength, independence, reliability, courage and the lessons instilled that working at something you love to do can be fulfilling and worthwhile. My daughter has the opportunity to learn that a woman doesn’t have to be subservient to a man and repeat a barefoot and pregnant phenomenon that is outdated and chauvinistic. There is no way I’ll allow myself to feel guilty for giving her these gifts while I do something I love to do.

  10. 10 Renee Roberson December 6, 2007 at 11:49 am

    I feel guilty all the time. But I think it’s because my children are still pretty small and not in school full time. Once they are both in elementary school it will be as if I’m going off to a normal job during their school hours, except I’ll be doing it from home. I never felt guilty about anything until I had them, and now the sight of a banana-smeared face through the glass of my French doors is heart-wrenching. But my husband tells me the kids need to know people work to provide for their families (including mommies) and I should never feel guilty about that. They need to be exposed to the real world. I know he’s right.


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