"A constant guilt has become a part of me. Yes, guilt, which is good for absolutely nothing but perpetuating misery."
Q: How do you feel as a working mother?
Mom answer: Great! I do a balancing act, right. Yeh! (A struggle to thrive each day)
Q: How is life?
Yea, I am enjoying life, career and family - I do apparently.
But honestly, I am guilt-ridden, stressed out, and unhappy.
Does it sound familiar to you?
Most of the working mothers go through a burnout by wearing a super- mom cape. They are like a stretched elastic, ready to break.
Are you the one who pulls an ‘All is Well’ facade, but your soul feels exhausted, strained and unappreciated? And sadly, without no clear reason.
You are not alone!
I assume it’s coming from the unconscious bias society carry. The perception of a ‘good mom’ are the ones who stay at home and raise kids.
After all, the prototype of an ideal mom is the one who is always around, is there to help their little one with school work, read a story, and participate in each and every activity.
Since you headed to work, you consciously and unconsciously struggle to prove that you can balance work and family, won’t neglect your duties, and be a great mom.
Unconsciously you struggle to prove that your work won’t affect and hurt your family life.
On the work front, you are expected to get the job done, mentor others, and never miss a deadline.
You can’t miss the office in spite of being awake whole night. Anyhow, night waking and meltdowns are a part of any mom’s life.
Working moms have additional problems like nasty co-workers, boss, deadlines, office policies, nanny and day-care issues. How can you reach office when help won’t turn up for the day?
Juggling both, most of us give up a career, but giving up on dreams and ambitions is devastating.
Sometimes, fulfilling an ambition is so entwined with happiness that denying those ambitions takes away the soul. Or it could be financial reasons which push you to continue. Whatever reason for working, working moms stretch their limits, get drained but don’t quit.
Like Mani, a working mother who shared her struggle:
“A pang of guilt enveloped me when I reached home and saw my child asleep again. Ah! It seems guilt has become a part of me by being a working mother in a demanding industry.
I have a flourishing career moreover; I am passionate about my work. It’s been a pleasure to see myself achieving my dreams, but motherhood brings change and make us fiercely protective of our children—now I feel responsible for a new life and I adore my child, but there are days when my spirit dampens and I feel like giving up.
Work and home both need my attention, the balancing act often gets unbalanced and leaves me with this constant lingering ‘guilt’.
I started living with this weird feeling, a relentless reminder, a nagging pain, persistently reminding me that I am unable to deliver my duties perfectly as a mother.
Sometimes I have to leave my child and travel for work - guilt accompanies me there. When my child complains and refuses to sleep without me or when I leave my sick child at home, my heart lurches.
In spite of having a compassionate husband and a support system in place, still, the struggle to run life seamlessly is perplexing.
Each day I run to finish chores, deal and solve problems, my life looks perfect from outside, but I know what I go through each day. High-stress level, frustration has started manifesting in the form of physical pain.
At work, worried about family, and, when with family, trying to keep up with the demands of work.
A constant irritation, tiredness and overwhelming feeling enveloped me all the time. And whenever I am on a guilt trip, I try to compensate my child through expensive gifts, vacations and luxury."
This guilt and perfection are a quicksand and somehow you get into it. There is no dearth of perfection in life. However, when you constantly chase perfection, you end up stressed and unhappy.
I was falling apart until I learned to accept myself, ask for help, prioritize my ambitions, and take more control over my time.
I asked myself: is my constant chase for perfection is increasing stress in my life?
Do I really need to wear super-woman cape all the time?
Can my family be happy when I am not?
How can I produce quality work when I am baffled?
Then I realised my major source of stress comes from the expectations which are not aligned with my own values, but the values of others.
And I needed to fix it, to walk on the path of enriching life.
· Know my limitations
· Take help
· Plan and execute
· Do things that bring happiness
· Draw boundaries
· Stop the guilt trip
· Accept limitations
· Ignore other perception
· Take time out for physical and mental health and
· Make the most of my time
It’s OK - When I face adverse circumstances, situations instead to whip up myself. I accept and say – It’s OK.
I embrace my limitations.
I can make mistakes.
I accept who I am, what I want and what I can do and not do.
I don’t have to be overly critical and judgmental when I neglect some of my duties.
I enjoy and pay undivided attention to my work and time with kids.
I stopped the struggle to prove and justify to the world.
I don’t have to keep measuring myself on the parameters set by others. I know my limitations and my strength, so now I work on areas important to me, not to the world.
I create a positive environment where my family respects my work
When I stumble, I accept, and get back with compassion and positivity.
I learnt to pace myself and started giving importance to myself the way I give it to my children, husband, and work.
I asked myself, what is my true value in life as a mother, a woman in the workplace as a person, and then I ranked those values in the order of importance.
Now, I arrange my activities aligned with what is important to me. Accordingly, I put the most important things first and take care of them and so on.
I set my expectations what I can achieve in a day, both at work and at home, at what I can’t.
I keep aside some time for things not so important, but also a part of life. Taking out some designated time once a while helps me to cover most of the stuff in my life.
Going out with the kids also includes my own physical activity and exercise, walking, biking or just playing and creating fun time together.
Give up things you won’t need to do.
No, I don’t have to design my little one fancy dress just because my neighbour is doing it. I can get it from outside.
No – I don’t work on weekends.
Not everything has to be perfect:
I have 24 hrs a day and a limited energy. If I invest my energy in each and every task, I would be exhausted and drained.
Based on my priority list, I invest my energy in the task that requires attention. No, not everything has to be perfect.
I have learnt to delegate without guilt. Taking family support, asking for help, delegating work at home and work place has reduced unnecessary load.
Ask help when needed:
When I face adverse circumstances, situations, or when I am uncomfortable Instead of shying away, I ask for help when needed.
Let it go:
When things are not in control, holding them take more energy, then I don’t waste my energy on it and I let it go. Choosing where to invest my energy and where not has saved me from a lot of unnecessary stress.
Once I have decided on my priorities, I try focusing my energy on key tasks. I accepted, I don’t have to prove my worth to the world. I am who I am - my ambitions are in sync with my own values, not derived from peoples’ expectations.
So let’s forget the guilt—there’s nothing to be guilty about—forgive yourself, and embrace the joy that is your family, your work, and your life brings in -That’s a truism for working mothers.
I know you are a smart mom, who has loads of suggestions. Please leave your advice in the comment section below, to help other moms to learn from your tips.