working mom

Being A Working Mom Can Make Me Feel Like I’m Failing Everyone

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Most of the time, I am totally happy with my life as a working mother. I enjoy working and when I went back after having my kids, it was mostly because I felt the need to do so for myself, not just my wallet. If I am being completely honest, I know I am pretty good at it and I do the juggling thing very well. It is rare that I feel like I can’t “have it all”. However, there are certainly times where being a working mom makes me feeling like I’m failing everyone.

Things have been tough for me at work lately- I am in an industry where the holiday season is our bread and butter and I coordinate educational sessions and trade shows around this time of year. It is pretty awful for me because this is also back-to-school time for my kids and I want to give them my full focus. My son starts kindergarten this year and he has always struggled with transitions so I am anticipating a hard time over the next several weeks as he settles in. I am so nervous that the pull of my job and the pull of being there for my son will cause me to positively lose it. I am sort of a perfectionist in that I do not like to do things halfway. I loathe the notion that I will have to “phone it in” for anyone, especially my children.

That said, this is not my first time at the rodeo. I have already been through a children starting school during my busy season and obviously, we all survived. However, regardless of our minds being rational and telling us to go easier on ourselves, I think most mothers can relate to these feelings. We all have thoughts and obligations that pull our focus from our kids and the resulting guilt can be insane. I cried every day driving to work for probably the first month our kids were in daycare, despite the fact that they both seemed happy as clams. It took time for my brain to adjust to the idea that I was doing what was right for our family and that would trickle down to our children as well. I was happier working, which made me a better and more present mother during the time I did spend with my kids.

I still have trouble shaking the feeling that everyone is getting a little bit of me with no one getting 100%. My inner Type-A wants to be perfect for work, my kids, my writing, my house and my husband but the fact is, I cannot be all things to all people all the time. I am proud to say that most of the time, I do a good job balancing it all but I will be honest (and hopefully, some of you can relate) that right now is not one of those times. I will just have to power through and remember that at the end of the day, my intentions are good and I am trying my best. I need to go easier on myself- which is always easier said than done.

(Image: Lisa S./Shutterstock)


  1. Elizabeth Wakefield

    August 31, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Oh, Valerie. I have felt the same way – especially when I coached. I tried so hard to give 100% to my team and 100% to my daughter and i always felt like someone was getting shortchanged. I don’t have any real pearls of wisdom except that it’s all just a season…and the season will eventually change, and hopefully slow down. Kids are amazingly resilient and I think that we as parents feel like we are being ‘bad’ parents far more than our kids think…if that makes sense.

    • Valerie

      August 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      You are very right and like I said, most of the time I am good with it all. Just having trouble lately and feeling like blah as a mom and worker-bee. Lol. It will pass. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      August 31, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Well, you know where to find me if it all gets to be too much. I’m right there with you, sister.

  2. rockmonster

    August 31, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    It’s hard adjusting to anything ever. The human brain hates change.

    • Valerie

      August 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      My son’s brain HATES it extra bad. Oh Lord. He currently refuses to part with his bedtime Pull-ups despite not having wet his pants in at least a month. He is like, terrified to wear underwear.

    • Choux

      September 1, 2014 at 4:05 am

      My therapist recently told me that everybody hates change, but change is the only thing that is constant. Didn’t really make me feel better, but I understand.

  3. Spongeworthy

    August 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I feel this so much. Especially in the last few months when I changed jobs. Adjusting to a new a schedule, new job duties, slightly different hours, while also trying to keep up at home… It’s rough. But what keeps me going is knowing that in the long run me working really is better for everyone–better for us because we have more financial security and freedom, better for me because I am definitely a better mom when I work. Better for my husband because he won’t have the burden of being the sole financial provider. Better for my son that he has to learn to be around other people than just his parents. So even when it’s somewhat sucky, like it is right now, you know that in the long run, everyone will come out better.

  4. CW

    August 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I was miserable as an employed mom because I was running myself ragged trying to give 110% to my child and 110% to my employer and felt like I was doing a $#*++y job at both motherhood and my paid position. I became so much happier when we got into a financial position where I could afford to quit my paid job and devote myself fully to being a good mom. Now that my kids are older and more independent, I am gearing up to relaunch a paid career, but I’m hoping to work only part-time rather than 45+ hours/week.

  5. Rose White

    August 31, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    It is totally okay to not give 100% all the time. Seriously some moms need to calm the fuck down already. This pressure to succeed at all things all the time has got to the most exhausting way imaginable to live. How about half-assing it for a change?

    • CW

      September 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      [email protected]$$ing it at work can get you fired. [email protected]$$ing it as a mom can result in kids who are messed up for life. A lot of Gen Xers are totally messed up as a result of their parents being too busy to pay the proper amount of attention to them. I don’t know about you, but when I became a mom, I promised myself that I’d do a much better job at parenting than what was typical when I was a kid growing up in the ’80’s despite the need for me at the time to hold FT employment.

    • Rose White

      September 1, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      Half-assing it is sometimes necessary to maintain your sanity. Any mother out there who insists on giving 110% all the time, in every area of her life, is going to raise a kid with anxiety issues, not to mention her own health will suffer. Life is not about how many accomplishments we can shove in to it before we die. I personally have an easier and lower-paying job that I did before kids. Yeah so? It means I am not a stress-case all the time. I have less “stuff” than other people, but I am still very comfortable.

      Sometimes kids just need you to leave them alone too. I remember my mom doing other stuff while I was daydreaming, or climbing a tree. It is totally okay to let some things just happen organically. Your kids need at the most ONE extra activity outside of school, not three or four. If you consistently work until 8 pm, then find another job. This constant quest for achievement is ruing people’s lives.

      If neither you nor your children has moments to stare at the ants on the ground, or stroll around and pick dandelions, then I personally find that to be whack.

  6. Jezebeelzebub

    August 31, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I get stuck in this hole, too- what helps me claw my way out is that NOBODY ever gets everything right all the time, so when I’m fucking up at least I’m in good company. And also I’d have to work really hard to be fucking everything up *all* the time, so chances are good that at least some of the time, I’m doing okay. Being a grown-up is bullshit. But it does have it’s perks- vodka, for example.

    Mmmm, vodka.

  7. momma425

    August 31, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    I can completely relate. I was in a position at the end of summer where I basically had to choose if I wanted to take time off then and attend my daughter’s end of preschool celebration, or if I wanted to save it so I could attend the new kindergarten stuff. I made a choice, and I missed all of my daughter’s preschool “graduation” stuff. I know it’s just preschool, but she’s my only kid and it was a big deal to her. Balancing work and parenting is so hard sometimes, but I feel lucky to be working for a company that I believe in, and I feel like I’m doing something I love.

    • Rose White

      August 31, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      You know, the more I think about it, the more I think there is just way too much stuff like this. There are too many “big” events in a kid’s life this days that are, of course, totally manufactured. “Graduating” pre-school is not an actual event. No wonder so many moms are so stressed out and guilty. So many banal things have been turned into “big” things. The only graduation we moms need to attend is high school and college. Everything else is just an invention. It is fun and all, but it is taken way to seriously for something without any actual meaning. Finishing preschool is not an accomplishment that warrants a ceremony. My mother never took off work for anything I did at school and that was certainly totally normal back then.

  8. liz

    August 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    This. All of this.

  9. LiteBrite(UterineDudebro)

    August 31, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    I feel this so much right now. Our office has been booming with business, which means I’ve been putting in longer hours, skipping lunch, etc. This past week my son’s school had an meet-and-greet ice cream social, and I had to miss it because there was no way I could take off of work. I’m stressed out all day, and then when I get home I’m tired and in need of time to unwind, which makes me snippy with my son and husband, not to mention I’m trying to get cleaning and laundry done so I don’t have to do it on the weekend and thus have more time for my family. And I feel like I’m failing at it all.

    Sorry. End of whiny rant. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I get it because right now is not a good “balancing” time for me either.

    • Rose White

      August 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Damn you need a cleaning lady. No, seriously.

    • LiteBrite(UterineDudebro)

      August 31, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I’m not opposed to this idea at all.

    • Rose White

      August 31, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      I have one. Costs $50 and is worth every single penny. Women are so “liberated” now that we get to go to work all day and come home and do all the housework. Women who work should INSIST on a cleaning lady. I think it is insulting to ask a woman who works 50 hours a week to also maintain the home. (yeah in an ideal world men would do half the housework but they don’t).

    • ted3553

      September 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Best thing I ever did. When I suggested it to my husband he may have said that all that really needs done in our house is vacuuming and dishes (with a toddler, teen, lab and husband) before i punched his teeth out. But in all seriousness, I have a lady who comes in every 2 weeks for 3 hours and it’s freaking awesome. I spend my weekends hanging out with the kids and doing other things instead of cleaning. I work my budget around it.

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