I Work*

And I have been a spoiled brat…which is much better than my kids being spoiled brats.

Last week the new babysitter started. This week I’m fairly certain she is, in fact, Mary Poppins.

The kids are painting and crafting and outside. The dishes are done, the laundry is folded and put away. She even organized my closet. MY CLOSET. As in- pants on one side, shirts on the other, everything hung and clean and folded.

I’m not kidding.

and it’s ok to hate me.

There is a problem here though…I have guilt. Ooooooh, the guilt.

I feel bad she’s organizing my closet. I feel bad she’s panting with the kids. I feel bad she put away all the dishes and mopped the floor.

I. Feel. Bad.

Now, the Guru of all Mommy Guilt, Devra, has already given me the ‘you are absolved‘ but as I am 30 minutes from another day with Mary Poppins-guilt is creeping back in.

I want her to do all these things. I NEED her to do all these things.

Maybe this is my ‘official’ coming out party as a ‘work-at-home’ mom instead of the ‘stay-at-home’ mom who does some ‘stuff’ on the side -the way in which I have been mentally operating.

I know, I still say that. I do. It’s entirely stupid.

‘Oh, so what do you do?’

‘I stay at home with the kids, but I take some blogging projects on here and there.’

Here and there? What is that? Why do I say that?

Denial people. Denial.

I am no longer doing what I thought I was ‘supposed’ to be doing, so I’ve sort of ignored that it’s happened.

I work.

There. I said it.

I am not a stay-at-home mom. I work.

Sigh. Why does that feel dirty to say outloud? What is wrong with me?

I work. I work. I work.

Yeah, that’s not helping.

I used to be really good at keeping the house clean, keeping life organized. Ok, the kids threw me off my game a bit-but I used to take pride in finally figuring out how to cook dinner, clean up the spilled juice, finished the laundry, teach ABC’s, and shower all in one day.

Now…now that stuff takes a back seat because a)I’ve been working and b)it bores the hell out of me.

I’m not saying I don’t still educate my children or pay them attention-of course I do. What I don’t do well anymore is, say, make sure their red shirts are clean and laid out for ‘red color day’ at preschool. Instead I’m frantically trying to find another ‘red’ shirt to throw in their bags while reminding myself I need to actually COOK something to feed everyone.


I think, maybe, is I feel the need to be the best Mom EVER and not only do I

a)suck a bit at this mom thing but

b)enjoy working.

In my head the best Mom EVER does not work. She plans activities to educate and nurture her children while making a balance meal from scratch-all while vacuuming.

I’m not that Mom. I tried to be that mom, and I lost my mind. I feel guilty that it wasn’t ‘enough’ to fulfill me and I feel guilty that I’m not MORE thankful for having the means to choose to work.


Oh. The. Guilt.

I love my children. I want what is best for my children. I want to make sure they are getting everything THEY need. I just haven’t figured out how to do that and get *some* of what I need.

The babysitter is here. She brought flashcards.

I’m going to make my calls and shake my head and answer emails and blog.

Why didn’t I think of flashcards?

*don’t ever let me tell you I don’t work Ever. Again.


  1. Welcome to the club you’ve been in for what, over a year? Of COURSE you work. Claim it, and don’t feel guilty, lady.

  2. I’d been wondering how you get done all you do while being home.

    You were making ME feel guilty for accomplishing so little on my days off!

  3. I’m a WAHM as well. I work. And now that school is out, I’m at a loss as to what to do with The Boy. I’m thinking of hiring a “mother’s helper.” This makes me feel better than having a “babysitter.” (Although there is still some guilt.) It makes me feel like I’m still “mothering” even though I am not. (Hmmm…more guilt.)

    I did this for a couple of weeks last year, and loved it. So, if I go crazy this first week or so of summer, it may be time to power through the guilt and get someone else to come over and do something.

    Because I can’t be a patient, loving and happy mommy if I am constantly yelling at The Boy while I try to get things done.

  4. Your helper obviously finds it fulfilling to be Mary Poppins. So you both have things that you love to do…they are just different things. A win-win!

  5. Just last week I was thinking that what I really need to get it all done (work, teach, cook, clean, kid, man, etc.) is a wife.

    Don’t feel guilty. There is NO WAY to juggle it all without help.

  6. embrace it! be proud of yourself for finding such a fantastic babysitter and know that your kids are doing great… and keep working cuz we love to read what you write! p.s. the “best mom ever” FOR YOUR KIDS is you.

  7. I feel like I’m free now that I’ve read your words. Like it might be okay to not like the cleaning, scrubbing, and mommy stuff. Cuz, work is fun. I like my kids too but I love work. Finding the happy medium is hard. Ahh, and I thought of flash cards, tried them and they didn’t work. Why? Cuz, your the mom. Sitters have special powers. They just do.

  8. Queen of Spain says:

    THIS is why I blog. I already feel slightly more sane. 🙂

  9. Devra is right. Get rid of the guilt. So you work. So do a lot of other moms. Your kids don’t know the difference between a mom who is totally focused on them and what they have: a good mom who is helping provide for them while making good use of all her energy and talent.

    So get over it. You have happy kids. You are having the time of your life. And now you have a great babysitter/housecleaner to help you out. Frankly, I’m jealous.

  10. Well, I think that if you asked Lalla Lydia at lallalydia.blogspot.com she would tell you that she had a loving mom and a good mom and was well nurtured and prepared for life. Part of the time her mom functioned as a single mom and part of the time she was s married mom with a good parenting partner. She was also a full time working woman with a demanding career. She wasn’t perfect and she got things wrong. She wasn’t a cookie baking mom but she did go to PTA and she did get her to piano lessons and such.

    Lalla Lydia spent her developing years in preschool and also spent lots of time with her mom talking and reading and loving each other.Because her mom worked she also got to have piano lessons, violin lessons, art lessons, a summer of immersion French, an exchange year in France and many other enriching opportunities that helped make her the person she is today.

    Lalla Lydia’s mom had one goal that she prepare her daughter for the world that she would live in and that she would be a good person in that world. Her mom did that job and Lalla Lydia is a most exceptional girl.

    I know all this because I was that working woman who managed to raise an intelligent , loving, and wonderful person while being a WORKING WOMAN!

    I am sorry , but no sympathy here, you are a better mother for doing the work you are good at and contributing in your own way. Your children will be proud of that and will use you as an example of what women can be.

  11. Great site, first time visitor. Um, can you share with us how you found Mary Poppins..I mean your new babysitter? Cause I’m needing one of those……

  12. Queen of Spain says:

    Yes! I found Mary Poppins on Care.com !!!!

  13. Don’t all moms feel guilty? SAHM– doesn’t work (ha ha). WAHM– pulled between child and work. WOHM– shame on you for leaving your kid with someone else all day long.

    Seriously. When is enough, enough? No one wins. No one can win. At least not until we all accept that each of the situations is what they are– what works for you and your family in a positive and productive manner. 🙂

  14. Our babysitter (a.k.a. Grandma, but we pay her) cleans, does laundry, and cooks during baby’s naps, and plays and runs errands with him while he’s awake so he gets new things to look at and plenty of exercise. If he really needs me, I’m available because I’m at home. They’re having a great time, and when she leaves, all the boring chores are done and I can play with my son instead of trying to balance him on one hip while I unload the dryer. It’s AWESOME.

    And it makes me a better mom to have some time to do things I love, in addition to being a mom which is also great.

  15. Oops, before I get stabbed to death, let me clarify that I am *working* at home, not just eating bonbons and reading romance novels. Although if I was, that would be ok too.

  16. I keep holding off on getting a babysitter. I work part-time from home, and lately it’s been hard to keep the kids entertained while working and doing schoolwork.

    Something has to give, though. I can’t keep doing it all. It’s good you’ve found someone who is so good with the kids. Don’t let the guilt get to you – you’re doing the right thing for your family right now, and if things change, you’ll change to make sure it’s still the best for your family.

  17. Absolve guilt by paying a fair wage… and don’t forget social security. The rest is baked-in guilt from the fifties that you should throw away with your Betty Crocker cookbooks!

  18. Oops I meant baked-in guilt from the fifties passed on to you by older people of course!

  19. That Guilt Club has hella number of women in it. You belong to a wonderful group and I’m honored to be in it with you.

    Now, bake me some cookies, bitch.

  20. Oh! I probably spend far too much time being Way Too Wise Woman since my kids are grown and I always worked but let me just tell you a few things:

    This guilt is part of a mirage. When moms were home in the first half of the 20th Century there were no labor-saving devices; they had to hang wash, and iron everything, and cook from scratch all the time and and and. They did NOT have time to do all the things we fantacize we would do if we “only had time.” I know this because I did about FIVE HUNDRED stories about working moms back in the 80s and learned a ton about the history.

    THEN there was the 50s. Watch AMC’s Mad Men when it comes back in the fall. It was really like that; infantilization of moms until they went nuts.

    The number of wonderful, gifted moms who feel guilty – no matter where or how they spend their days, is horrifying.

    I don’t have Devra’s street cred but I join her in the absolution.

  21. Ugh, the mommy guilt. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  22. Guilt, what guilt? Okay, I am off to Care.com.

  23. I wish that I had a Mary Poppins when my kids where younger and I was working at home, it would have been the responsible choice rather than falling short at the things I should have been doing because I couldn’t possibly do it all myself.

    Or I should have better balanced my work with family, although I always thought my super human efforts would be temporary, which they ultimately were, and so were my young children – 2 of them are teenagers now and the ‘baby’ is a teenage wannabe.

    Or maybe I should have not been so proud and utilized the help of my mil.

    Oh, and I should someday lose the mommy guilt for trying to do it all, my kids are each one of them quite awesome. It didn’t come easy. :0)

  24. Meh. That super mum (I am Australian so don’t do ‘mom’ sorry) image is over rated. Those chicks are all popping their kids Ritalin anyway…

    No one can do it all. And guess what? You have the best of both worlds. Someone else to do the mundane red shirt hunting and you get to work doing something you love AND be the mummy.

    Awesome I say.

    But personally, I would have gone with a male nanny. Bit of eye candy for the mumma. “um would you mind picking up that pen on the floor for me?” Boo-yah!

  25. I finally found your blog! I love your posts everywhere else I read your stuff, so I’m glad I’ve come to the source.

    I just want to say I completely and totally hear you on those evil evil mommy guilts. Its a horrible affliction and I suffer from it regularly. I hope you find peace and self-forgiveness (is that kind of a word?) somehow, somewhere in the vast grey area known as “working motherhood”. Does it help you when you hear that you are a better mom when you work because you are happier doing something productive and rewarding for yourself? I have heard that it can help to hear that. As a SAHM, I love my kids, but really reeeeeally miss my brain – I pine for it daily, in fact.

    (And so funny you post about this topic as I was just working on my own demons about going back to work – I am sort’ve flipping out about the entire concept.)

    Again, I wish you peace and happiness at work AND at home as you smack that guilt stuff upside the head. 🙂

  26. Oh how I could have written those exact feelings. Why is it so dirty to work? I LIKE working, I do!

  27. You’ve hit so many points here that resonate with me that I’ll just have to give you a virtual high-five and then write my own post (crediting you as inspiration, of course).

  28. I think that part of my guilt over working at home is that I get tremendous satisfaction from my writing. Yes, it is work– but I love it, which in the back of my mind somehow equates with playing, not working. And then of course I feel guilty for ‘playing’ instead of remembering to remind the 3 year old to go potty, or scrubbing my baseboards, or playing XBox with my 10 year old. I mean, I DO all of those things sometimes. But those things have also sometimes fallen by the wayside as I write.

    So. yeah. I could relate to this post.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Mary, mom to 10

  29. Just because we’ve been brainwashed to feel like we have to be stay at home moms doesn’t mean it is in our genes. You must do what makes you happy and you will be a better mom. Do you think your kids will begrudge you that you didn’t clean the toilet the day you interviewed Obama? I don’t think so!

    Happy moms raise happy kids!

  30. Thanks for this post! I went back to work a few months ago and this was the hardest part – the unspoken, underlying feeling that the Best Moms Ever don’t work.

    But, I’m being the best Mom I can be, regardless of what the rules are for the Best Mom contest and I’m better when I work.

    Thanks again for your post. This is why I read blogs.

  31. hey, just found your blog through the michelle malkin post. i’m 24, raised by a full-time working mom, who worked in the office and nights at home too. i never felt neglected, or resentful. growing up, i thought my mom was the best mom ever, and i still think so. i’m so happy she managed to have a kid and a great job that she loves — she is a wonderful role model. not just because she showed me that you can work and have kids too, but because she showed me that it’s okay to be a mom, to love your children, and still have your own (grown-up) interests — that love is more honest and valuable that way. seriously, if she had been making me muffins and hot cocoa every day before school, i would have exploded.

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