Most of us who spend multiple years in college or in training for a particular career plan on using those skills to obtain gainful employment. Emily at Evolving Personal Finance had an excellent post recently about how she has no desire to retire early because of that and many other reasons. I used to think the same way. Then I was hit by a force so powerful and overwhelming, it could make you walk through fire. If you have never experienced it, it’s called Mommy Guilt, and no matter how hard I’ve tried. It never completely goes away.
I’ve been married to a school teacher for 10 years. It never bothered me that he had 2-3 months off every summer while I had to work. I could have been a teacher if I’d wanted, but summers off was not enough motivation to make me want to spend all day in a room full of children. Honestly, most children used to annoy me, and then I had one of my own. While the whining and unreasonableness that come with kids can certainly be annoying, there is nothing that compares to having your own child.
Suddenly my husband’s off season drove me nuts. I was completely jealous that he got to spend summers with our daughter, and it made me really mad when he seemed to take it for granted and they sat around and basically did nothing all day. Whenever I had a day off, it was planned to the minute as I tried to fit in as much as possible. It actually stressed me out to be off because I was afraid I couldn’t get everything done. No matter how hard I tried, I could never shake the Mommy Guilt.
Well, there have been some major changes in my life over the past year, and now I am working part time. Finally, I get to have a summer to do all the things I’ve never been able to do. My daughter and I get to go to the free kid’s movies that play at 11AM on Tuesdays. I’ll also get to see most of her swimming lessons and actually participate in the summer reading program. Also, we can have a day to lay around and watch TV if we want. I totally understand that concept now and don’t feel the need to have every second scheduled. We’ve already spent a week visiting family, and we’ll get to take an almost two week vacation later this summer. I’ve completely turned into a giant cheese ball because I caught myself driving down the road just smiling the other day. The Mommy Guilt is still in there somewhere, but finally it’s silent at this point in my life.
I used to read stories like this and scoff at the writer. I told myself it was good for kids to be in day care or have a Mom who had a career. I still believe that to some extent, but I think you can have both. While I do not claim to know what is best for anyone else on the planet, I know what was best for me. The key was to actually admit what I wanted, get out of debt, and make changes, regardless of whether or not everyone understands why I walked away from a profitable business that produced money but not happiness. This summer I hope to be the most boring person I know, and I’ll love every minute.
Have you suffered from Mommy Guilt? What would make you walk away from a full time job to stay home more?