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Do You Have Guilty Working Mother Syndrome?

Kids' Paintings

I suffered terribly with guilt as I struggled to be successful in my job and to provide a great foundation for my child’s success. I was the only working mother in my neighborhood when my daughter was born in 1990 and the only one of my “friend group” who elected to return to work after my child was born. In fact, when my co-workers found out I was expecting, most did not expect me to return to work after her birth. But I had worked three jobs to put myself through undergraduate school, attended graduate school at night while working full time and had worked hard to establish a successful career. For me, work was where I wanted to be. I had no intention of staying home.

I respect people who make the choice to stay home and believe we should all make the choices that help fulfill our personal goals. While I desperately wanted a child, I also wanted a career outside of the home. I am fortunate to have a husband who fully supported my decision and has always been willing to do his share of the parenting and help around the house. Many of my friends who left the workforce did so because they did not have this support at home.

Still, as my daughter was growing up I worried about how my choices would impact her. Fast forward 24 years and my daughter is one of the most successful young people I know. She is now in her third year of Pharmacy school. We have had many conversations about the guilt I experienced and the times I was not there for her. What is surprising is she does not remember that I missed any key events in her life. She remembers my being there for the things that were important to her. . I share this because I have talked to so many women who beat themselves up because they are working and cannot be at their child’s beck and call. I think we overestimate the importance of our being at everything that involves our children. We also underestimate the importance of being a great role model for how to work and balance a career. My daughter tells me I have been a great role model for her. She has an expectation that she will have a successful career of her own.