Working mom guilt sucks.

It's nearly midnight. Most school nights, I'm passed out in the middle of my bed with one child - or, sometimes, both children - sleeping around me. Tonight, though, I have energy (don't ask me how)...so I'm doing things that need to be done. I took the trash out (effing cold outside right now, btw), washed/sanitized bottles, cleaned up JJ's bathroom that became a disaster area after bath time, and - once this post is done - I'll iron clothes for all of us, make sure I have stuff for pancakes in the morning, pack Mia's diaper bag and fold/put away two loads of laundry. I even managed to get in a couple of shows on my DVR, which is awesome; my DVR usually sits untouched until the weekend. It's been a long week at work, and I have a full day tomorrow that will probably see me working through lunch again so I can stay caught up; I hate being behind at work. I will probably have a couple of cups of coffee throughout the day, but that's fine. At least I have something there that will give me that boost I need.

But that's just house/family/work stuff. I just got an email for the teacher appreciation lunch committee, and I signed up to bring three large bags of chips. I also volunteered to send pumpkin quick bread mix to school with JJ tomorrow, and I'm pretty sure he needs to have his lunch card reloaded with money. I need to track down the library book we read tonight and make sure it makes it back into his backpack, find an appropriate shirt for school (it's PE day tomorrow, and I don't want him to get too hot by wearing a heavy shirt), and make sure his IEP stuff is worked out so he can get his speech and OT testing done. It's all a never-ending cycle of just stuff...and lately, it's been overwhelming.

I feel guilty being a working mom. I love what I do, but it's hard to get past the post of the stay-at-home moms who send the Pinterest crafts to school with their kids and seem to run the homeroom mom show flawlessly. It's hard to be the mom that volunteers to take the chips for the teacher appreciation luncheon because I just don't have time to throw together a dessert, or be there for set-up or clean-up. It's hard needing to work through lunch because I am so damn desperate to get out the door as close to 5pm as possible that I'd rather work through my lunch hour than have to stay until 6. By the time I pick up my children from daycare, I haven't seen them in more than 9 hours - and I miss them so much by that point that I am almost in tears every day when I pick them up.

It's hard to balance everything. I try my hardest to be there for the kids whenever they have something going on, and I am grateful that I work at a job that understands that. But that doesn't stop the guilt of my work keeping me away from my children for most of the week. I do not have the option to be a stay-at-home mom at the moment, and I am honestly not a good enough salesperson to start my own work-at-home business...I love education, and I'm good at what I do. I thrive in my current work environment, and I love it.

I hate that I am justifying my love for my job, when I really shouldn't have to do that.

I've seen the same exhausted, guilty looks on the faces of other working moms; I've had conversations with other working moms about how to balance it all. It is overwhelming to feel this much guilt, and it sucks to see stories on social media and in papers from parents putting down mothers who choose to work outside of the home. One time a couple of years ago, I saw a post on Twitter or Facebook - can't remember which - from a stay-at-home mom that basically said that she couldn't understand how people could let other people watch their kids for the day, that they must be bad parents if they choose not to stick around to raise their own children. That post happened ages ago, and it still makes me sick to my stomach to realize that people out there think of me that way: a shitty parent who lets a daycare raise her children. That is not the case, but I'm not here to convince random people that I'm not that type of person. I'm too tired to fight that fight.

My hope is that, one day, the working mom guilt goes away. I do not know if we will every be financially stable enough for me to stay home - my husband IS in the military, after all, and we cannot live comfortably on just his paycheck (which is a whole 'nother topic i won't get into at this moment). And I do not know if I am cut out to be a stay-at-home mom; I love spending time with my children, but I also love adult interaction, and working with the students. That doesn't mean I don't miss my kids every second that I'm away from them, or that I do not feel guilty that I probably should never be homeroom mom because I can't promise I can make every field trip - but I will definitely volunteer to send cookies, and will be there at every IEP meeting and parent/teacher conference. I want my kids, and the world, to know that just because I don't stay at home doesn't mean I'm not a worthy parent.

A really good friend of mine told me last weekend that I need to let go of the working mom guilt, that it will eat me alive if I don't find a way to just let it go. She's totally right...but I'm still struggling with letting it go. For now, I'll fake it 'til I make it, and I'll do my damndest to make sure my family knows how much I love them, even if I do work.