The Mommy Guilt And What It Means To Have It All

To me, having it all means knowing what you want, working for it, and being content with what you’ve built. While striving for more and being happy with your reality, rather than striving for what for is not attainable.

In less than two years, I went from the fast-paced life of having a full-time job (while attending graduate school and going out with my friends at night), to being married and a full-time stay-at-home mother. My life took a sudden 180-degree turn, and at times felt like it was standing still.           

My mother was a stay-at-home mom to me and my two sisters. She enjoyed it. But I felt guilty, because unlike her, I didn’t enjoy the stay-at-home experience. I was bored and found myself craving the outside stimulation of the working world. I missed being in the company of other adults. I felt the conflicting emotions that most women feel when trying to navigate the delicate balance of life versus career.

The most powerful emotion most women experience is overwhelming guilt. Am I losing myself? And who am I if I stay home full-time for the next twenty years to raise my family? Am I disservicing my family financially by not working, in order to have a better life?

I went back to work when my twins turned one, and never stayed home full time again. I have learned a true and oftentimes frustrating reality: “You can have it all . . .you just can’t have it all at once.”

If you have talents you enjoy, you can do them, but you can’t do them for 12 hours a day, especially when you’ve got small kids. A woman with five kids can’t realistically expect to be able to spend as much time doing the things she prefers and wants to do. It is a reality we all face, but there is a bonus: we’re planting seeds and building human beings! There is truly no greater project we will ever pursue.

My kids are slightly older now, and they’re in school most days. This year, I cut down to working part time 2-3 days a week. I do have some free time when they are in school on the days I am not working, but that is also restricted by inevitable responsibilities that come up like food shopping, cooking, medical appointments, or someone that has to come home early from school because they are sick. On days I don’t have those circumstances, I make the most of every minute, and I savor every millisecond! I try to do things, I enjoy. I write, work on my doctorate, bake, exercise, etc. It’s refreshing and it recharges my batteries, so when my kids come home, I feel renewed.

I think the art of balance is a very personal, individualized journey. Each of us has our own interests, talents and resources. To me, having it all means knowing what you want, working for it, and being content with what you’ve built. While striving for more and being happy with your reality, rather than striving for what for is not attainable.

Right now, I have everything I need. Do I want more? Sure. Am I going to aim higher? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to rock the boat and throw my life out of balance to get it this second. If it’s meant to be mine, I will have it with time. The most important goal for now is to maintain equanimity and be satisfied with where I am now at this point in my life.

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