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Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Nobody’s Perfect, Right?

05/12/2011 at 09:00 AM ET

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy 2011 ahead of her.

The actress, 38, can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Abduction, as spokesmom for Juno Baby, and can be found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm is back to work in the Big Apple on a film, and is struggling with being far away from Easton August, 3, her daughter with fiancé Ron Anthony. Do you struggle with mom guilt? How did you decide to go back to work or not? Is it an issue for you as well? Share your stories in the comments — Elisabeth wants to read them!

Robert Evans


I never had any idea how emotional being a mother would be (thanks friends for really laying it out there — geez!). If I had known that it would come with a whole suitcase full of emotions that I had not really entertained before, I still wouldn’t have hesitated to be a mom, but boy, why didn’t anybody prepare me?!

I would have read at least 10 more books on the subject of parenting just to buffer the ache in my heart that comes after doing the best you can and still not getting it right. The guilt … why did no one tell me of the guilt you feel as a mom?

It’s the whole working mom conundrum. To work or not to work? I think that is the heart of the issue for me today. I feel like a bad mom today and I’m not liking myself very much right now. And it hurts to be tough on yourself when you are actually trying to do what’s best for your child. At least you’re doing what you have to do for them, whether they like it or not.

So, I’ll be honest — Easton is mad at me. I’m working on a film in N.Y.C. and I’ve been gone for five days straight and counting. It will be seven days in total that I’ll have been away from her once I return home on Friday. Then I’ll be home for a week and gone again for a solid seven days after that.

As much as I love my job, I feel so guilty for not being home with Easton. And you know what? I also feel guilty about the fact that I’m enjoying some of this time to myself to work and be creative. But because I feel guilty for not being a stay at home mom, I can’t really completely enjoy this time away because ultimately I’m not being present here or there. I’m torn in two different directions.

But it gets worse. At first she was mad at me — insert pouty face here. Now she is not only mad, but she’s also slightly indifferent about my being gone. I feel sick about it, actually.

The trip started with Easton and I on Skype, hugging and kissing our separate computers. She’d say, “I’m angry you are so far.” And I’d say, “I miss you so much. I’m so sad when I’m not with you.” And then she’d say, “I miss you, Mama. Come home.” And then I’d say, “I’ll be home real soon, baby. I love you sooooooooooooo much!” And then we’d kiss and hug our computers some before she’d get bored with talking to Mom via a grainy screen.

Now on day five she seems to be having a good time with her dad, friends and the occasional assist from the nanny. And of course, it makes me so happy to know that she feels secure without me there (not really actually — I’m a little jealous too). But now I’m faced with the guilt and shame of having to bring home some bacon to the point where she’s comfortable with my absence.

You see, she’s usually traveled with me but now that she is getting older and has a routine — school, her after-school activities, friends etc. — she’s got a great schedule. Since she’s happy I thought to leave her at home instead of dragging her to N.Y.C., where she’d just be waiting on me.

Makes sense, right? You gotta pay the bills somehow and you gotta make sure the kids’ lives are stable. So, what choice do you have? And by the way, some of us actually really love working — or at least used to before our happiness became colored with our guilt for being happy without the presence of our little ones from time to time. Ugh, how complicated!

I just want to go home and lock the door and never leave her again. Of course, until I have to for financial reasons or because I’m really excited about a project. I’m feeling guilty, moms, and want to run home and beg forgiveness for doing the very thing that makes her routine possible and for having work that excites me.

Why did no one prepare me for the plight of the working mom? I would have at least gotten a therapist or created a mom support group where we can all tell each other that we understand how the other one feels and that the kids will be all right and further, that we are setting a good example. Not only just our work ethic, but that we have interests outside of the home, a job or a passion or both. Most importantly, they will forgive us for our absence.

But see that’s the thing … when you are a mom, you twist it all around in your head and feel bad that you can’t be everywhere at the same time and be all things to all people. I get that this is a normal feeling but it hurts to feel like you are not being there for your kids and worse — that they are getting used to the feeling of your absence.

I can’t seem to forgive myself today for actually having a job. Boy oh boy! Where do moms meet to talk about this? Playgrounds, birthday parties, school hallways? Or right here, in the blogosphere?

I know on the flip side that there are all kinds of emotions for the stay at home mom too. Many of my friends who are there with their kids find that they feel confused about that very issue. We just can’t win, can we?

If we are home all the time the kids feel profoundly secure and unconditionally loved, right? That’s the point I would think. But then they don’t see their mom out there fighting, winning, losing and what the work force is all about. They miss out on seeing their mom have a purpose besides them.

Which — as good as it feels to be loved by your mother so much that she will give up her own dreams or career for your needs — it also holds a lot of pressure. At least, I remember feeling like I was everything to my mom and that it sort of stressed me out that she didn’t have distractions or other responsibilities outside of the home. She was way up in my bizness, as they say! But our bond was undeniable because she was home with me and saw me through everything. I never felt as if I came in second place to her other life, which I’m so grateful to her for.

And to be honest, I see my friend’s kids whose moms don’t work outside the home as deeply grounded and confident because of that choice. Not to say a working mom’s kids won’t feel the same — it’s just my guilt and shame of working and missing out on Easton this week that is making me wonder if you can ever totally win in either scenario.

Before I ever thought of having a child, I could never have imagined giving up my independence and work-life. I recall thinking that I would not be able to deal with asking for permission, an allowance, and relinquishing experiences of my own just to be a good parent. I’d say to myself, “I know my mom was there and great because of that but she could have managed to do both.”

I was so sure that I would never quit working — until after I gave birth to Easton, that is. I finally got it. I had that overwhelming feeling that I could never, EVER leave my child’s presence. I just became so clear that I would never, EVER work again. It seemed clear as day that this was where true happiness lay. And that’s what happened — for a little while anyway.

There are the obvious reasons of why I had to go back to work: savings, future planning, school … money, money, money! Oh the burden of not having a trust fund!

But there was more to it. I really love what I do and I missed it. I missed adult interaction. I missed travel and the unknown that comes with each new job. And I missed being challenged in my chosen profession so that I could keep learning, growing and achieving outside of my family dynamic.

But do you want to know the truth, Moms? Right now I’m just feeling bummed out by my desire to work. Like it’s selfish or something. And I know that’s BS but when you’re a mom, you’re rough on yourself sometimes.

The truth is, when you are a mom you demand perfection from yourself. Which frankly, I know is impossible. We simply can’t be all places at all times nor all things to all people. But I know we want to be … and that pursuit can be so emotional.

Today, I want to be the perfect mom. But I’m not quite able to be … today anyway. I’ll do better tomorrow, right moms? Or at least when the weekend rolls around and I can be 100% in mom-mode.

So the question of forgiveness comes up. Can we forgive ourselves for not being perfect? How are you feeling today ladies? A little less than perfect or are you being kind to yourself today?

PEOPLE.com readers, I love when you open your heart and share with me. Tell it to me straight, moms!

– Elisabeth Röhm

Robert Evans has photographed parties for Christina Aguilera and Jim Carrey, and is also known for photographing some of the biggest celebrity weddings in the last 10 years, including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston and most recently, Shania Twain.

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Showing 41 comments

Megan on

I totally understand this conundrum. I work full time, and able to make the majority of my time be in the mornings when my son (2 1/2) is sleeping. I”m lucky that way I guess. With the help of my sister (a surrogate nanny) I am able to feel fulfilled in my work life as well as coming home and feeling fulfilled in my home life. Not that it’s easy, it’s just possible.

I honestly think that because of me working, my son is very secure in his life. He knows that no matter when I leave, I will always come back – because I’ve been doing it since he was a tiny baby.

Your daughter will forgive you, and in the end, she will become a mom herself and realize how much effort you put in to be the best that you could be, and she will have the same desires.

Melissa on

Thank you for sharing your experiences, its nice to know that celebrities are just like the rest of us. The media makes celebrities out to be these extrordinary people, but in reality you are all just like us and its nice to hear it ever once in a while.

As for me, when I got pregnant with my 1st, I thought and talked about how I would love to stay home and be a full-time mom, but once I was off and half way throught my mat leave (we get a year off) I realized this wasn’t an option.

One: financially I needed to go back so we could save and provide our son (17 months) with experiences we didn’t have growing up. We wanted to take trips and show him things that wouldn’t be available on one income.

Second: I wanted to go back to work, it may sound selfish, but I needed to find “me” again, I found that I lost who I was when I was off. It was all about our son and my needs were put on the back burner. I know that’s what happens when we’re Mom’s and we need to make that scarfice for a little bit, but not forever. I think in order to have a happy family and happy children, Mom’s can’t forget about themselves in the process.

I did feel some guilt when I went back and missed him terribly, but I was lucky that my mom watches him, so I know he’s getting the attention and love all day while I’m not with him. I think we are all thriving and growing.

I also find that the time we do spend together after work, before bed and on weekend are so important and valuable that I don’t stress about the small stuff anymore (ie. cleaning,etc), because I want to make the most of our time together, experiencing new things, watching him grow into a little man and just enjoying being together.

I enjoy reading your blog, I look forward to your next one.

miche on

This is just one of those “everyone is different and has to do what works for them” situations. I know working moms with guilt for working and I know stay at home moms who feel upset that they have to scrimp and can’t afford to send their kids to camps or dance or go on great vacations every year because they have to watch every penny. But most of them wouldn’t trade places…because they know what works for their family.

I worked fulltime until my daughter was 18 months, because I was putting my husband through his Master’s program. Now I only work part time and it works for us. I still get my “adult conversation, no clinging kids” time and I am able to pick up my kids at 2 and spend the rest of the day with them. I always think of the phrase…”You can’t miss someone who is never gone.” I love hearing their stories about what they did by themselves and what they learned!

As long as you are taking care of your kids and loving them, don’t be hard on yourself. And this is also where we can support each other too. I have a stay at home friend who can pick up my kids if I have to work a little late…and I watch her kids some afternoons so she can get some “alone time” to breathe and recharge. This is such a hot button issue for many, but really it should be a chance for us to support each other and learn to be more understanding!

M on

I’m a stay at home mom and that was important to me from the beginning. But we live in an area with affordable housing and a ton of free opportunities for families and kids, so it was both a priority and a possibility for me–despite our VERY modest income. But you know what? I STILL FEEL GUILTY, ALL THE TIME!

I think guilt is just part of being a mother. Was I too disengaged or preoccupied today? Did I take advantage of teaching moments today? Have we watched too many movies this week? Did I slack off and feed them mac and cheese for lunch? Did I yell over something silly? Did I read to them enough or was I so tired I said “extra books tomorrow”?

Our kids deserve the world, and really since we’re all human there is no way we can be perfect for them. We’re all tired and stretched too thin. I just try to tell myself that as long as your children are safe, secure, and nurtured they will be just fine. Express your love generously with words and actions and your little girl will grow up to be happy and appreciative of your sacrifice for her–working moms and stay at home moms ALL make major sacrifices.

I will add that I am almost finished with my master’s, which I’ve been earning part-time over a number of years, and plan on working when my kids are school-aged. Things like vacations and pricier school/athletic activities will be more important then, not to mention the importance of showing my girls through example that women can do anything they set their minds to.

Mommies, you’re all doing a great job.

g on

I went back to work at 11.5 weeks. My daughter was in daycare for literally an hour when I decided I couldn’t take it, even though she seemed perfectly happy there and it’s the best daycare in town. I had the MUCH better job, so my husband quit and is staying home with her until she’s about 15-16 months old. She’ll go back to daycare at that time, and I’m hoping to not feel too guilty because at least at that point, she can benefit some from social interaction (unlike now when she’d just be in a crib staring at the ceiling most of the day).

Good luck to you. Easton will be fine :)

Kat on

I agree with M, guilt is sadly part of being a mom. My daughter is almost 6 months, and three days a week she goes to ‘school’. The other two days she is with my husband as he works from home (I work full-time outside the home), and I could not be more jealous! This is what we must do to provide for her and have a home, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Yesterday I popped a forgotten bag over to my daughter’s school before I headed to work (my husband drops her off), and was barely noticed by her as she was engaged in her classmates’ activities. As happy as I was that she enjoys her teachers and friends, it still stung a bit that she wasn’t thrilled to see me. Luckily the smiles and jabber I got when I picked her up cheered me back up.

Dori on

First of all, I very much enjoy reading your blogs, Elisabeth :-)

I don’t have children yet, but my mom was working full time when I was growing up and I had no problem with it – it’s the only way I knew it as she went back to work when I was 1 year old.

She took me to kindergarten and later to school at 7 in the morning and then she picked me up again around 3 or 4 in the afternoon – the time in between was not a problem for me, I mean I was pretty busy with my own “work”. And then for the rest of the afternoon she was there – true, there were things like household chores that she had to take care of, but I remember that I either got my own “job” to help out (which I was always immensely proud of) or that I went and played by myself for a while.

To work was an important part of my mom’s life – it gave her a balance. I only truly understood that when I was older and she once lost her job – I think she felt stuck inside the house, nothing happened really at home – my mum has a lot of energy and she has to get rid of that somehow. She will retire this year and already her schedule is filled up with activities and all kinds of small jobs that keep her busy. I know for a fact that my mom never felt guilty about working. She knew that me and my brother were well taken care of during her work hours. We never once thought that we were neglected or anything.

Something I really get upset about is when people say “if you go to work then you give up your job as a parent and leave it to strangers”! My mom and dad were always the most important people when I was growing up – they laid down the rules – nobody else – my parents did that. Of course, there were teachers and rules in school and all that, but my parents raised me and gave me the love that only parents can give, not teachers (a teacher’s job is to teach and not to raise a child). I am very close with my family and very grateful for the way they raised me.

I know I will be the same when I have kids – work is an important part of my life – I need to have this different “world” so that I myself am a balanced and happy person.

I am not judging moms who stay at home – the most important thing is that it makes you happy. If you have the feeling that working makes you feel good then go and work and be a mom. If your favorite job in the world is to be there for your child every second of the day – then do that. I don’t see a reason to feel guilty about either one way :-)

Jess on

Elisabeth, I have been reading all of your blogs and enjoying them. You are an excellent writer and you really provoke some food for thought on these complicated issues. (Loved you on Heroes too by the way!) :) You seem like a wonderful mother to your daughter.

I am a working mom of 2 kids, (3 and 5), and I can tell you that it is a daily struggle. I too feel fulfilled working and think that I would go crazy if I stayed home all the time. My mom worked full-time as a teacher and raised 4 kids. I have a good relationship with my mom and I admire her for her career and being able to “do it all.” She has been a great role model for me and I, too, am doing the same thing.

I had a really hard time coming back to work when my kids were babies, and would have like to have stayed home for a year, but now that they are older, they are in preschool and have their own little life. My kids seem happy, grounded and well-rounded, and that is all I can ask for. All we can do is our best, and I am sure that our kids will turn out fine.

I too have guilt sometimes when I notice that my friend’s kids are not clingy and mine are. Is it because I am working and the other kids have their mom around all the time, so they feel more secure? Or mine demand more attention? It is a challenge, but I have to make the choices that are right for my family financially (we cannot afford to have me stay home) and for me personally.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and give yourself a lot of credit for doing the juggling act and raising a beautiful daughter.

Kay on

I am the mother of a 15-month old and I have the working mom guilt too. There are days when she is fine when I drop her off at daycare (she’s in a home based one), and other days has a fit. After she was born, I know I couldn’t stand to work forever, especially if were going to have more children.

I plan on staying home full time starting in January and can not wait, then will have more chidren. I know some view it as “wasting time,” but for me, I know that’s the best place for me to be and for my children. I feel like I’m so much more worn down working- between driving, working, and trying to crap things in every evening.

My mother worked and it effected her relationship with the kids. She was always out of town, or late coming home, and we never really saw her. I want to make sure that I can dedicate myself to my home and kids; hopefully they’ll look back one day and know it was all for them. My hats are off to the working moms who can do it all, but I’m not going to be one of them.

lac's mom on

I work full time and have a 3 1/2 year old and a 10 month old son. I feel guilty for not feeling guilty. Our life works. I get frustrated when people say “full time mom”. I am a full time mom. I am a mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I get frustrated when people say that other people are raising my children. I am their mother. They know that. I am the one they cry for when they are sad and sick. I am the one who comforts them. I am the one who hugs them and loves them. I set the rules. I discipline them. I teach them right from wrong. I spend every waking moment that I am not working with them. I go to work early so I can pick them up early and spend more time with them. I feel very fortunate that they go to a daycare that we love and they have so many wonderful women looking after them and loving them as much as I do.

Working is a part of who I am. I have worked very hard to get to where I am but my family will always come first. Right now, the majority of my friends are stay at home mothers and we all go through the same struggles, worries, fears and joys. We’re all mothers whether we work or not.

blessedwithboys on

How very, very sad to read the story of your daughter’s descent into attachment disorder.

Three year olds don’t need a routine as much as they need their mama! Instead of the stupid 8 hour a day preschool you’ve got her in, just take Easton and her nanny along to NY or wherever.

So many mamas HAVE TO work. They have no choice but to leave their babies in daycare. Other mamas CHOOSE to work, but they come home every night. You have the financial resources to take your daughter along with you. It’s nothing but pure selfishness for you to leave her behind under the guise of “routine”.

I don’t feel one bit sorry for you, but my heart breaks for your poor little girl. :(

Sarah on

I am a working mother. I happen to work as a nanny and am lucky enough to be able to bring my daughter to work with me. Sometimes she stays home with her dad since his days off rotate each week. I STILL feel guilt even though I help bring money home and I’m able to have my daughter with me most of the time. Did I not give her enough attention at work? Did we read enough? Was I unfair to her in favor of the baby I take care of?

It’s worse when I work late once in awhile and I don’t get home until after she’s in bed. Why am I taking care of someone else’s child when I should be at home putting my own child to bed? I adore the baby I take care of and my daughter loves her as well and I am so, so lucky to do what I do. Like someone else said though, guilt comes with being a mom.

Nicole on

I’m a working moom and my husband works out of town a lot,and there are times I do feel guilty when I have to go to work and miss out on a school field trip or something else. But my kids and I have a great time when we are home at the end of the day. They are always excited to tell me about their day at school, even who they sat with at lunch and what they ate that day, then I tell them about my day. We have snuggle time after supper, cleaning, and baths are done too.

Eryn on

I agree that no matter what moms do, whether they stay home or not, there is a sense of guilt over something. We want to be the best for them and give them everything they need. For us, we worked it out that I have been at home with the kids and we live off of one income, but after nine years (and four kids later) I am itching to bring in an extra income to afford the things I’d like to do with a family of 6.

My youngest is almost 2, so I am thinking about going back to school, and getting a helpful diploma under my belt so when they are all in school I can work during the day in a job I love (either that or work evenings and weekends now on minimum wage, which I am not crazy about, but it is money).

Right now I am very happy that I stayed home with them and that I was there for all the major mile stones, I can’t imagine leaving them in daycare for 8 hours, but I know some moms have no choice. I do understand wanting a sense of self and getting out there, mom’s need their time too, it’s good for us!

Brooke on

Elisabeth – don’t pay any attention to that wretched poster above (blessedwithboys who should be named boysarentblessedwithanicemother) says. Your problems are common, and I do feel for you. But know that you working allows Easton to have things in her life, a roof over her head, a warm bed to sleep in and a full belly every night.

You are doing the right thing for yourself, Ron and Easton.

Angi on

I think we moms need to stop feeling guilt. No one is going to get it perfect. You could be at home all the time with your kids and sometimes you are going to mess it up. If you are a working mom,sometimes you are going to mess it up.As long as you give your child a loving and stable life then you are doing a great job.

freedomgrl77 on

I struggle each day with that momma guilt; I’m currently deployed in Iraq and have been for a number of months so it is incredibly hard to be away such a long time and not start to feel detached from your babies. My children are 6 and 8 and I know this is an extremely difficult time for them not having me but they always know I love them and will be there for them whether I’m home or abroad.

When I’m not working i.e. weekends, nights, days off, they are my life and I put them to the forefront… Here in Iraq, I talk on Skype with them, send them letters weekly, draw pictures, and send gifts to let them know I’m thinking of them constantly… I’d love to stay at home some days and I’ve considered throwing in the towel many times and giving them that undivided attention but my finances wouldn’t be able to handle it at the current time.

It is all a fine balance and I just have to remind myself that my love for them is not defined by whether I work or not; it’s by my actions each day in letting them know I care about them unconditionally no matter where I am…

Kate on

My mom was a working mom, too. I never cried when she left because I knew she would be back. The situation and the solutions may very for everyone, but I wasn’t angry with my mom back then. Very recently, she told me it was really hard for her to leave me. Apparently, she had mom guilt, too, but she made sure I understood the context.

I think children usually pick up on the anxieties of their parents and feeling guilty about being a working mom sometimes affect the kid’s mood, too. It is important to shield them from that. I guess feeling guilty is part of being a mom, but there is one thing I can say to all working moms out there: You are just doing fine. As the daughter of a working mom, I turned out fine and so will my children.

Natalie on

When I first had my little girl (8 months now), I couldn’t imagine leaving her side. Then, something funny happened while on maternity leave. I lost myself. In four months, my former self disappeared. I descended into PPD.

The day I started back to work, it felt like the sun came out again for the first time. My little one loved her daycare and teachers, I was able to be challenged intellectually, and with a flexible schedule, I spent the late afternoons & early evenings devoted and more interactive with her than I was when I was home all day. I needed the stimulation of work.

Then the guilt set-in. Spurred by comments of others, things like “Wow, you are taking being back at work really well. Don’t you miss your daughter?” Well, of course I do, but this is working for our family! But the seeds were planted, and now I struggle with guilt. Not guilt for working, but guilt for wanting to work and being happy about it. Am I missing a critical mom gene? Am I defective?

What a complicated situation. And what insane pressures we put on ourselves. And what terrible things women say to other women without thinking. Your post captured exactly the churn of emotions I feel day in, and day out. I have no answers. My best offering is this: My daughter is growing and thriving. She isn’t happy always, but she is a majority of the time. She is surrounded by caring people (me, my husband, her teachers, family, friends). She will grow-up seeing her mother succeed, her father work hard, and knowing that she has a network to rely on, not just mom. That has to be worth something, right? Maybe quite a lot.

Dawn on

I am a working mother of two also. I have a 9 year old little girl and a 2 year old little boy. I don’t feel guilty because I know that by working I can provide them with medical insurance and stability. I have however chose to take a lesser paying job with hours that let me be with them in the morning and be home when they get home from school. It is a trade off. I am able to provide for my family and yet still be there to take care of the family also.

A on

Elisabeth,

Don’t listen to BlessedwithBoys….there are always “haters” out there who reflect back to us the worst thoughts we’ve already had about ourselves/our situation. Don’t worry- your daughter doesn’t have “attachment disorder”. Sounds like she’s doing great with Dad. It takes a village to raise a child, as they say…you are being a responsible Mom, and enjoying life as you go about being a necessary breadwinner for your family- Easton will continue to benefit from your finding joy in work. In modern life, Moms and Dads often must play both roles/trade off being the breadwinner and the primary caregiver. That’s great that Easton’s Dad is having this time to be the primary caregiver to her- She’ll remember that and this will add to her sense of emotional security.

The bottom line is that your emotional well-being as a Mom will be intuitively picked up on by your daughter. So if your job enlivens you, that boost to your system will nurture Easton, even if she has other emotions about your being away once in awhile. Your continuing to manage and release your guilt will be picked up on by your daughter’s emotional radar, and she’ll benefit immensely having you as a role model for managing and releasing guilt, especially as she gets older. It’s obvious you are a stellar mother. You are doing great!

Jess on

Elisabeth,

I agree with all the others who say to ignore the incredibly rude and horribly wrong comment above. Although, let’s face it, which one will you remember the most? And I so wish you won’t. Because being a mom is hard. And there is no right or wrong answer. Wait, there is — you doing the best you can. And clearly, you are. You daughter is beyond loved and you (as well as your husband and everyone important in your child’s life) are responsible for that. Kudos.

As for how to deal with the guilt? I got nothing. But if someone gives you the magic answer, please share!

Ms. Jordan on

Elisabeth…I’m somewhat glad you have guilty feelings about being away from your daughter. It means you have very strong feelings about your role as a mother and recognize the feelings of your daughter. You’re not alone with the guilty feelings either. ALL good mothers have guilt feelings about something involved in their child’s life and needs at times. It’s the bad self absorbed mothers who never feel guilty or in the least entertain a thought about how their jobs outside the home effect their child.

I find it wonderful that your daughter has been confident enough to share her wishes to you. THAT should tell you what a great parenting job you have done. Your child’s father has been able to have quality time with your daughter too. What a great gift that is for both of them!

I am a single mother, right from the get go and HAD to go back to work part time when my son was only a month old. (later working full time) Boy did I have guilt feelings! But I had an elderly couple watching my baby son and they became an important “extended family” for my son and myself. He thrived with them while I was working and the smile I got from him when I came to pick him showed me I really had nothing to be guilty about. I was also reassured by the elderly woman who often told me, “Jordan, that boy of your’s is fine, just see how happy he is when you come get him. Honey, remember you have to work and you’re doing it for him. It’s the mothering you give him at home he’s gonna remember. He knows you love him, so stop feeling guilty.”

Tomorrow my son turns 29 and has 3 children whom he loves fiercely. Interestingly enough as a father he has often had guilt feelings because of the long hours he has to work to provide for them. All 3 children love him and are totally delighted having “Daddy time” once he has arrived home. As his mother I remind him to not feel guilty, but to make each moment count when he is home. Helping him with his feelings is still a part of my mom role and always will be.

My HAVING to work during his entire childhood hasn’t caused him any long term negative effects as according to Anthony, “Ma, I couldn’t have asked for a better mother than you. I love you so much.” Elisabeth, one day your daughter will no doubt tell you the same thing.

momofone on

Great blogs. I too have one child and work full time. I love my son but also love what I do. I feel guilty quite often but wouldn’t change things for the world.

Elle Mickey on

I am the daughter of a mother who worked full time & traveled extensively. It had it’s tough moments, especially because very few (read: NONE) of my peers mothers did the same & they could NOT understand what my father was doing at PTA meetings & Girl Scouts!

She had to be gone a lot, sometimes A LOT, but we never ever felt like she would rather be working than with us. We always knew how much she missed us and we couldn’t wait for her to be home with us again so we could hear all about where she had been and the work she had to do there.

The example she set for my sister and I as an executive & a businesswoman (and a damn good one) was extremely empowering. That made her an even better mother in our eyes. We were raised by a woman strong enough to do what was neccessary for her family & what was right for her family situation.

Don’t worry about the guilt- that’s natural, let your daughter know about it when she’s old enough to understand. Teach her that decisions aren’t always easy, that not all families handle things the same way. She’ll appreciate the example that you set for her and will be proud of what you have accomplished- I know I am.

breckgia5 on

blessedwithboys is always posting negativity and judgement on this site. One of the most destructive things that we can do as parents is to act “holier than thou” when it comes to our parenting skills. What works for one Mother may not be right for another.

I am blessed to be at home with my daughter, and I am thankful every day I am with her–it must be almost a natural reaction to feel guilt with regards to being away from a child–but your child is LOVED and cared for. And those are things that matter in the long run. I had a Mother who had to work at times during my childhood, but I never felt neglected or unloved.

Becky on

There is no perfect. Live in the moments you have – enjoy the time with your daughter, enjoy your time at work. Try to give yourself a break on both sides. Your daughter is not abandoned, she is with her father, her other parent. This time could even be seen as a gift to them to strengthen their relationship.

I can understand your conflicting feelings – sometimes I want to skip my evening workout to spend more time with my daughter, not because I feel guilty, but because I like to spend time with her! But I feel better about myself when I make time for myself to exercise. Occasionally I might skip the workout and grab an extra 30 minutes with my girl at the end of the day. Each day is just an effort to make good choices, and see the good in it for all of us.

Janice on

Please don’t feel so guilty, Elisabeth. Supporting your family is part of life. Your daughter will grasp this. All 3 of mine did. Just try to spend as much quality time as you can with your daughter when you’re off work. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. She needs a healthy, happy mommy.

I was a single mom (divorced) with custody of all 3 of my daughters. I had to work because the child support didn’t cover everything. My daughters somehow understood that I loved them and they were very important to me. (I hugged them and told them I loved them every chance that I got.) They are all grown up now and in their 20s and 30s. They all tell me that they are glad that I’m their mom. Not one of them has complained that I worked. But I followed my own advice of spending as much quality time with each one as I could.

Good luck! You only get to do this once.

Nicole on

Thank you, I needed this today. I just googled “away from home one year old daughter mad.”

Two weeks after our baby turned one, we had to go to a wedding and I thought it was a good time to leave her with grandma. Every time I checked in, grandma and baby were happy. Got home, so excited… she looked me square in the eyes, scowled and turned away. For 90 minutes, I was a stranger. Crushed!

Like you, I try so hard to do it right. I put my career on hold, nursed for a full year, never left her for more than quick errands. Then, in a minute, I could only think that all of my love and work was for nothing… I’d undone it all in three days. She hated me and she would never forgive me.

Thank goodness for my husband. He told me it was ok. She’s a happy, bright, beautiful baby girl. She was mad at me for being away — she wasn’t unhappy (she was with grandma). She’s going to be mad again when I give her a curfew and tell her that she can’t leave the house half-dressed.

I was the one judging me. I need to do something for me once in a while. So long as our daughter is in good hands when I take care of me, I’m not a bad mom. Neither are you. We’re human. By reading your posts, you’re a great mother. And human. Thank you so much for sharing.

P.S. You asked about places to go to talk about stuff like this…my friends never had a similar experience. I was so thankful for your post.

Jenna on

@ blessedwithboys
I wasn’t aware that you knew this woman’s finances. She may be a celebrity, but she made it pretty clear that she needs to work so she can provide future opportunities for her child… and yes a 3 year old does need a routine.

Anyone who has ever taken a class about child development would know that ALL children (from infants) crave routine. Elisabeth is right for not wanting to uproot Easton from what she is used to… PLUS HER FATHER IS WITH HER!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT????

I suppose you believe that it is unfit for the child’s dad to be left alone to take care of his kid… You are one of the most NEGATIVE people I’ve ever see post on these blogs… with nothing nice to say ever. I hope you don’t teach your poor boys to say rude stuff to others.

Kristen on

I feel the exact same way. I would love to be a stay-at-mom but am not able to due to financial reasons. On the other hand, my son is getting wonderful experiences at the daycare he goes to and I don’t want him to miss out at that either.

Most days I am comfortable with the choices I have made. However, last night, my son was so tired (he is 19 months old) he ASKED to go to bed right after supper. Normally, we have 45 minutes or so to play and be together after supper before he goes to bed. I didn’t get that last night.

I felt horrible. Selfishly, I wanted to keep him up just so we could have our time together. I didn’t, though, and I put him to bed. I also spent the rest of the night moping about not getting to have my time with him.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and letting us share ours with you.

sdr on

@blessedwithboys- why don’t you get off the computer and take care of your ‘boys’ since you are such a perfect parent?

Elisabeth- love your blogs and thanks for sharing. Your daughter seems like a wonderful well adjusted little one and that is proof positive that you are a great mama!

victoria on

Elisabeth,

Don’t feel guilty, you have to bring home the money, when she’s older she will understand, and maybe respect you because you are a good role model, I don’t respect stay at home mothers, why can’t they work? people should work, regardless of sex, two working parents are excellent role models, teach your child responsability, gender equality and respect. Also children need structure, I applaud that Easton is doing so well at school, she will be a succesfull child and become an amazing adult, and she will love you more for your sacrifices.

Cayce on

I sure understand where you are coming from. I am a stay at home mom of 15 children. I have been home for almost 18 years. I substitute teach once in awhile and I love it! I also go to school full time to finish my teaching degree. 12 of my children are in elementary school still and I am sad when I am subbing and not here when they get home. My husband doesn’t make a lot of money and it would be nice to have an extra income but, I have learned a few things. the most important is that I can have me time but it is in different ways now. There is nothing more important than those little children of mine. After having my oldest three graduating and “moving on” this year, I can attest that time goes by so quickly. teaching will always be there for me but my children? When will I have the time to read with them on my lap and give them a hug and wrap them up in a towel after there bath? or whisper sweet giggle words against their neck? I think the important thing to think about is “Is there anything that I am going to regret later?” Work will be there but what if you knew that your child wouldn’t be? wouldn’t that change your perspective a little. Now, enough of the doom and gloom, there are always times when we will feel like we are failing and that we feel guilty, but that gives us the opportunity to re evaluate and regroup and be the best that we can be at that moment. Know this…no matter what you choose to do Your daughter will love her Mommy and No one can ever take the place you hold in her heart.

JTS on

I feel the same way you do sometimes about having to leave my 4 month old daughter to go to work. There is a sense of guilt that comes with being a parent that no one explains or talks about.

My friend is a stay at home mom and while visiting her I saw something that made going to work seem important to my baby. Her 7 year old son told her that she could not tell him what to do because she was not the boss of the house, he said “Dad is the boss because he is the one that works and pays for everything”. Hearing this from a 7 year old made me realize that I am showing my daughter that moms too can be providers and that mom and dad do 50:50 of the work.

Now, I am not saying that stay at home moms cannot teach their children but as you mentioned and other bloggers children have a sense of security from stay at home moms they just teach it differently. Working moms provide the same security by being there for their children when ever possible and needed. I dont think anyone ever gets being a parent perfect but its important to know that we parents are doing the best we can and our chidren will eventually learn that and love us for it.

Annalise on

For someone as “organic” as you are, you are really laying on the artificial. Guilt is a natural feeling, usually your subconcious telling you that you are doing something against what you truly believe.

Be honest with yourself. I know just what you are feeling. I was such an awesome working girl at one time, and when I had my first son, there was no way I would quit my career. But having a baby changes things, and the guilt was awful. So I quit my long hours, sold the McMansion and moved into a small house that we could afford in a great school district, and stayed with my baby, and was so content. The guilt ceased. I missed being in the office, but not as much as I missed holding my babies. My office replaced me in a month. Nobody will replace me as mom.

Priorities change and sometimes you have to give up a bit of yourself. Why is that so wrong? If you are going to give up a bit of yourself for anyone, shouldn’t it be for your children?

And that crew you love so much? They won’t miss you. Your daughter does. Make changes until you are at peace. And if the change is just accepting that you want your job more than you want to be at home, then embrace it. Be honest with yourself and find the peace. There is really no right or wrong, just honesty about who you are.

You will never regret being honest about who you are and what is most important to you. Don’t forget what is most important to you.

marc'smom on

i saw this quote yesterday and printed it out and hung it on my bulletin board, and added it to my online siggies, etc:

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one” – Jill Churchill
:-)

TiffanyHarris on

Parenting isn’t easy at all and the best part about it, is admitting that it’s not perfect! That’s why I’m in love with Purple Leaves,Red Cherries (http://purpleleavesredcherries.com/). It lets you explore all of the complexities of motherhood by reading short stories and then you can write your own journey. It doesn’t get anymore revealing than that. So I commend you for sharing your story with us on your blog….it helps many women know and understand that we’re not all perfect.

Marie on

“Blessedwithboys” certainly is taking a moral highground! I don’t normally respond to these message forumns, but her comment almost enraged me. I don’t think any mther should put herself in a position to judge another responsible parent. I think blessedwithboys should step down off her highhorse, and if she has an opinion, learn not to voice it in such a negative judgemental manner. People will often consider your opinion more seriously if yu approach the topic with intelligence and understanding, and don’t try to shove your opinion down there throat!

Rock on Elisabeth, and do what’s right for you!

Mary on

I agree with Blessed & Annalise. Sorry, I can’t muster sympathy for someone who’s financially able to hire a “nanny” to raise their 3 year old when they are away “acting.”

I feel sorry for the women who work as secretaries for barely $20,000 a year. Why is it O.K. that women in certain professions make so little & those who do nothing but play earn so much? The world isn’t fair.

Every day that you leave the house and leave your child to “earn money” you feel guilt because you know you are in a position to stay home but you choose not to! If other women stayed home they’d be out in the street.

Jennifer on

Your little girl is surrounded by people who love her and she knows that you love her more than anything. In other words, she is in a secure, loving, stable, stimulating, and did I mention LOVING environment. She will grow up to be a wonderful person, just like her mother. The very fact that you agonize (and you really shouldn’t so much–your hair will fall out! :) so much over your actions shows how much you care.

I am a teacher. I was originally a stay-at-home mom, and let me tell you, my kids suffered because of it. A happy mom makes for happy kids. I love my children so much it hurts, but there are different personalities in this world, and mine required that I also be “me” as well as “mom.” I felt a ton of guilt (which took away the initial happiness, but is fine now) at first, but I got over it. I have wonderful friends: working, home moms, part-time working–and they all help me every day so that I know I’m doing the right thing.

I have a friend who is the most amazing stay-at-home mom IN THE WORLD! But when I see what she does all day–what she revels in doing all day; when I try to do what she does, I can’t stand it. I end up sleeping and eating all the time. The kids watch more TV when I’m home than when I’m not.

They’re both in school now, so the guilt is a lot less. I remember when my little ones were 3 and a baby and the guilt was the worst. But it goes away, I promise! When you see how happy your daughter is with the different aspects of her life, and if you let yourself let go of the guilt and allow yourself to be happy as well, you can just live life and enjoy what comes.

Remember–your daughter knows how much you love her, and I think it’s important that she also know that you’re more than just “mom.” You’re multidimensional and awesome, and as she gets older, she’ll appreciate that more and more.

Like I said, I’m a teacher, I see a lot of kids (pre-teens and teens), and I’m here to tell you that you ARE doing what’s right for your family–moms should never sacrifice their own happiness for their child’s. A child’s happiness doesn’t come from a sacrifice like that; a child’s happiness comes from the absolutely innate, unshakeable belief that her parents love her and they are always there for her, even if it’s via Skype.

Love your child. Live your life. Drop the guilt! :)

Jen

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