Mommy Guilt & It’s Place in the Workplace

Guilt and Anxiety as a Mom in the Workplace

As moms who return to work after our child is born, we often dream of the carefree life of a stay at home mom.  Little do we know that the life of a stay at home mom is not all sunshine and roses.  We live each day fighting a battle with our own selves.

Mommy Guilt & It’s Place in the Workplace

As a mom who is experienced in her career long before I became a mom, I was not fully prepared for the feelings, thoughts, and emotions I would have when I returned to work.  I love working.  I have an important job that I love and people who depend and rely on me.  Just like being a mom, this is a job I have trained for, dreamed about, and worked towards my whole life.  Without it, I don’t somehow feel whole.  I wouldn’t be me.

I often feel guilty when I travel for work or even dropping her off at daycare which I do four days a week.  This phenomenon called mommy guilt is something that is often experienced throughout a child’s life.  Leaving my daughter as I head to the airport, there is a hole in my heart.  I love her, and I know she loves me.  The adrenaline sets in as I work navigating the conference calls, emails, faxes, direct messages, and texts I get when I’m working with a client or traveling to a conference or an event.  I’m an expert who’s important and needed for more than the standard diaper changing, bandaid kissing, and magic momminess I possess.

One day not too long ago I realized that I could not be one without the other.  I’m a mom who loves to work and is better at both being a mother and working because I’m both.    These roles and responsibilities define me driving my creativity and time management.   We can do both, and I’m not apologizing for it any longer to myself or to others.  By accepting the reality, I believe I’ve become a better mom and business woman.  I’m learning to love and live with being a mom and professional setting aside my guilt and embracing what makes me special.  It’s a balance that finding and maintaining is not going to be easy, but I’m ready, willing, and able to be up for the challenge.

It’s okay to want to have it all.  Because of my daughter, I feel I’m a more focused business partner who makes time for work as well as play.  As parents, mentors, leaders, and bosses, we need to be prepared and understanding as our employees, friends, and peers face these daily struggles.  The guilt, the anxiety, and the questions are real.  And that’s okay.  I’m a better mother and business professional because I’m not perfect.  I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Are you?  How do you tackle your mommy guilt?  Does it work and will it really ever go away?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is the founder of Workology, a digital resource that reaches more than a half million HR and workplace leaders each month and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, daughter, and an assortment of furry family members.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jamie says

    I agree with your summary of mommy guilt, and no, it never goes away. It just changes as they grow older. There are new reasons you need to be there – and while changing the diaper or giving the bottle can be handled by someone else easily, the things in which mom or dad need to be there with, shouldn’t be. My oldest is 12, and it’s no longer about guilt so much, but about helping keep her on track. It’s a slippery slope with a young teen and the longer I can keep her making good decisions and staying on track, the better we will all be. So, I have to make my way to the dance and go to the Friday night football games. Because, she really wants to go, I want to give her experiences and opportunities – but who would I be if I just let her go unsupervised.

    As my child (children – actually, I have three: 12, 7 and 1), has grown older I have reconciled that my time is not really my own. There’s too much at stake in their futures for me to devote any extra time to my own. After all, they are my legacy.

  2. amy says

    Nice post. I totally agree with you in that both motherhood and work make up who I am. I have also made the decision to not feel guilty. I choose which pieces I am committed to and if I’ve decided with my kids that a certain field trip is important enough to commit to, then I go ahead and commit. But other field trips and volunteering that aren’t scheduled in are not something I need to feel guilty about. And vice versa with work. Do what you’ve committed to and learn the power of the word no.

  3. Ray_anne says

    Wow, Jessica – you have hit it right on the head. As a working mom of four – most it as a single mom, I struggled with not only the guilt, but the piles of laundry, the missed baseball games and swim meets, the fatigue I often feel and the utter despair at not being able to be two places at one time. But I know me, and I would never be happy as a stay-at-home mom.

    My oldest daughter is 24, married and working on her Master’s. My youngest is 14 and starts high school next Tuesday. I can remember my oldest begging me not to leave her at pre-school for they made her eat salad. She hated salad then, loves it now. I remember my youngest racing to my arms when I picked him up, practically knocking me over every time.

    Being a dental assistant at a children’s office made me a better mom – I learned tactics. Being a mom made me a better recruiter- I used my negotiation skills already cemented. And being all of those things makes me a better me today.

    It has never been easy. My children are practically grown and on a recent extended business trip to the UK, I missed them more than I ever have.

    I am who I am because of all the things that I have had to accomplish to get here. That includes being a working mom. Besides, my kids have inspired more blogs than anything else in my life. I am a better mom because I blog and a better blogger because I am a mom. There is only yin and yang. Besides, my work and my motherhood? We go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong…


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