Working Mama Guilt

Ryan will be five in a few weeks, and when he was born, I had a full-time job.  I took 3 months of maternity leave when he was born, and returned to work part-time for a few months, to ease back into work.  Before I returned full-time, the company I was working at was sold, and my job was eliminated.  We were in a position where I didn’t have to work, so I decided to become a full-time stay-at-home-mom.  I loved it. 

When my second son, Cole, was 18-months old, I was offered a very part-time job, working one and a half days a week, that would allow me to keep my professional skills current, but still allow me to be with boys, most of the time.   Ryan and Cole’s grandparents graciously offered to watch the boys one day while I work, and we found a great child care provider who watches them on the other day.

I have been at my job for fifteen months, and I haven’t missed anything that I felt guilty about in my boys’ lives.  But that is going to change this week.  Ryan’s preschool is having a winter concert later this week. The kids have been practicing their songs for a few weeks now.  I hear Ryan practicing his song, and humming the tune.  He sounds so cute singing it, and he is so excited.  The school is having the concert at a local church, so it is a very big deal.

Except I can’t go.  The day of the concert is one of the days I work, and this week I have to be there.  Normally, I could switch my schedule around so I could attend, but I have to cover for vacations and my co-workers working off site.  I am the only one who is scheduled to be in the office, and I take that responsibility seriously.  But it is breaking my heart that I am going to miss my son’s first and probably only preschool concert.

The school is rehearsing at the church all week, and I am hoping tomorrow and on Wednesday, I’ll be able to catch some of the rehearsal to at least hear him sing a bit.  Ryan’s teacher told me someone should record the concert and they can burn it on a DVD for me, but it isn’t quite the same thing as being there in person.  Thanks to Ryan’s grandparents, he will more than likely be able to attend the concert, because Joe can’t change his schedule this week either. 

I know I shouldn’t be sad- I should be thankful I have a job, and I am, but how do you balance out the grown-up responsibilities that you must fulfill with knowing you will miss your little boy singing about seven little penguins who are cold?

This is really hard for me- I’ll take any words of wisdom you can offer.


  1. i can so relate, while i have worked all the time with all my kids, i have been blessed enough to not miss too many kids things, yet those I do it is sad.

    However, I have learned that feeling sad about it is ok, and also celebrate those I get to go too.

    Hang in there sorry you are sad.

  2. Heather,
    I can relate with what you are going through. There have been many times that where plays and games have been scheduled at times where I could not attend. Some I have been able to make like my daughter Madison’s Kindergarten Graduation was the same day her little brother was born. After all the excitement at the hospital was over I rushed out the door and made it just in time. No sleep mind you but I still made it. As parents we can’t be there all the time even though we want to. As long as my kids know we love them and that I want to be there for them they are ok with it. I just try not to make a habit of missing out on their lives.

  3. Heather!
    I have been a career woman while raising 3 children. It isn’t easy, but I had to resort to thinking that if my husband didn’t feel guilty, why should I? After all, I earned as much or more money than him. I knew I couldn’t be in two places at once, however, I always made my best effort to attend all of their concerts, etc. whenever possible. Just let them know how much you love them…always.

  4. Know what’s most important? You care that you’ll miss it. And, I’m sure you’ve made it abundantly clear to your son.

    My advice is to make or give him something special that has a small picture of you on it that he can put in his pocket, so mommy can be with him when he sings. Try to make it to a rehearsal. If someone you know is going to be there, have them call you on their cell phone when he’s singing so you can hear it live (we do this for out of town grandparents).

    Just do any simple thing that makes you feel better and him feel loved. And, do not, I repeat, do not, beat yourself up. You are obviously a very loving, caring mother doing the best you can. At the end of the day, pat yourself on the pack, give your children a kiss, and sleep peaceful knowing you love them and they love you.

  5. A Mama's Blog says:

    Mel, Ethan, Roni, Janelle, & Mara- Thank you so much for your advice and for taking the time out to share your experiences with me. While I will still be sad I am missing the concert, hopefully I won’t feel so guilty. Thanks again. :-)

  6. Auntie Mara says:

    Oh Sis…

    Here’s a link to the post I wrote when I first had to leave Maelin behind and go to work full-time:

    I totally understand how awful you feel. While it’s okay to be sad, try your best not to feel guilty. There is a difference. I remember talking to my old friend Jen who’s been a working mommy for a long time and I asked her how she could bear it…knowing she was going to miss out on some important events.

    She said while it does bother her and every once in a while she has a good cry, but then she reminds herself that working is what’s best for the family…her family needs her to work. Maybe try to look at it that Ryan needs you to work that day more than he needs you at his show?

    This won’t be the last time something like this happens and each time it will get a little easier. Believe me…it still breaks my heart when I drop Maelin off at daycare (where I know she’s just fine and well-loved) and she’s screaming “Mama, mama” as I walk out the door.

    You have my empathy…However, Ryan KNOWS you love him and that’s more important than showing up. Anyone could show up at his show…it’s the stuff you do everyday that he’ll remember.

    Good luck!


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