Is Working Full Time Making Me A Bad Mother?

I’ve been on all sides of the mom fence: stay at home mom, part time working mom, and full time working mom. I did each of those roles both married, and now single.

Unfortunately, single moms don’t exactly get the option of being stay at home moms. Some do, but most don’t. Thanks to amazing family support and a little bit of savings, I was able to stay home with my boys for the first few months of my separation, and it was wonderful. Both me and my boys really needed that time together. They needed me during the transition, and honestly, I needed them too. But eventually, the time came that I could no longer stay home and I had to go back to work full time.

It was a major adjustment for all of us because even when I worked full time previously, I did an evening shift schedule where I was able to spend the first part of the day with them and then usually they were home in the evenings with either a friend or my husband. Full time child care was never something I had to do.

The prospect of it made me sick to my stomach in a literal sense. Not only did the financial burden make me want to run away screaming, but the thought of paying someone else to spend all that time with my sons was crushing. That’s where I was supposed to be. They needed me, not some stranger I paid.

Is Working Full Time Making Me A Bad

Being a stay at home mom is really the toughest job there is. But I did it well. I loved almost every second of it.

Maybe it’s because my boys were all young and hadn’t come into the toddler phase full swing yet, or maybe it was because pouring myself completely into them helped me survive the early months of separation and divorce. I don’t know. But whatever it was, I really rocked the stay at home mom thing before returning to work about 5 months ago.

I was petrified of going back to work. Not because of the work itself, but because I think I needed my boys almost more than they needed me at that time. Going back to work felt like stepping off the high dive blind folded. Because I wasn’t just a working mom. I was now a working single mom. It felt enormous!

But alas, the time came and I had to swallow that pill. I had no choice but to do what I had to do and try to make the best of it for us all.

The beginning was rough, but as time went on, we adjusted. We got use to the early mornings and the sad drop offs. I learned how to be okay with being away from my sons, and I figured out how to release them into someone else’s care and trust they’d survive.

I assumed that the time away from my sons would make the time we are together that much sweeter. And honestly, for the most part it has. But the 2 hours we have together at the end of the day before we have to sprint to bed and start again the next day is just not enough.

It’s stressful.

I want to do everything. I want to play for hours when we get home. I want to allow them to take an hour to eat their dinner. I want to revel in their awesomeness and soak in all the little moments.

And as much as I try to still do that, the truth is it’s hard. It’s hard to balance it all and find enough hours in the day.

So I do my best during the week. I get less sleep so that I can spend more time with them and accomplish things after they’re in bed. I try to slow down at the end of the night and enjoy them before hurriedly throwing them in bed frazzled with it all.

But it never feels quite good enough.

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So then I live for the weekend. The 48 hours where it’s just us! Home base. 2 full days of no schedule weighing us down or stressing me out.

But sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I still feel behind on the weekend. Like I’m running full speed trying to catch up to myself but always staying on my own heels.

I expect myself to be Mary friggin Poppins on the weekend and to love every single moment with my boys. To be fun and awesome and carefree.

I can’t live up to that expectation at all times, and some days it kills me.

I find myself with a short fuse sometimes. Less patient. Less in the moment. Less available. And deep down, that leaves me feeling like less of a mom.

What happened to the stay at home mom that loved even changing poopy diapers and being up til 3 am with sick babies in my arms?

My fear in going to work full time was that I’d lose something with my sons. That I’d become the exhausted, frazzled, angry, short tempered mom who can’t do anything gracefully because she’s too busy stumbling through everything.

I’m happy to report I haven’t become that mom. Not most of the time at least. But I have my moments. And in those moments, I doubt everything I believed myself to be as a mom.

In the frantic, crazy moments of meltdowns and tantrums and chaos, I find myself closer to the edge of strength and grace than I want to be. When I’m running on 5 hours of sleep and I’m up nursing a sick 18 month old in my arms at 11 pm when I have to be up the next morning at 4:30, my never-ending reservoir of patience and finesse seems to deplete more rapidly than I want to admit.

And when I see how hard they struggle adjusting to this new norm as we continue to jump more hurdles and weave between more changes, I sometimes can’t help but feel like I’m doing it wrong. Like I’m failing my sons. Like I’m not where I’m supposed to be.

At times, there just isn’t enough of me to go around.

I look at my boys and I want to cry I love them so much. So it’s frustrating to feel like when I’m with them, I’m less able to give them my best because either I’m too tired or too stressed or too close to the end of myself to be able to pour the little leftovers into them.

The truth is, I do though. Even when I have to dig deeper than I want to, I always find it. A mother never runs out of love for her babies, even when she’s running on fumes and yesterday’s coffee.

So I have to cut myself some slack. I have to remember that even though there may be more moments than I’m happy about that are colored by my waning stoicism, overall, I’m still doing a great job.

Want to know how I know?

Because they’re happy when we’re together. When I fall apart and lose my cool, they don’t seem too phased. They still shower me with hugs and kisses and compliments all day, even on the “bad days.” And I still do the same for them. I’m still their home base. I’m still their soft spot, and they’re still mine.

Motherhood is filled with moments of doubt and questioning and failing and struggling. Those moments don’t make us bad moms. They make us human. And you know what? I think human moms are the best kind of moms there are!

If you’ve found yourself a little more human than you’d like to admit, it’s ok. We are all just human. We are doing our very best, every single day, and our babies can feel that. We want to get it so right; and what I’m realizing is that even on the days we don’t believe it, we are.

So hang in there mamas. Whether you’re at home, at work, or working from home, you’re where you need to be and you’re getting it right. If you doubt that, look into your baby’s eyes. See that sparkle? That’s because of you!

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31 thoughts on “Is Working Full Time Making Me A Bad Mother?

  1. Hugs, sweetie. When your reserve feels dried up, remember the One who refills it. And through every tired moment, there is always the love. And sounds like those boys know it. What wonderful compassionate men they will grow to be-because of you, my dear. Wonderful and honest as always. (And trust me, you can be at home and still wonder if you are doing right. Wrestle with it a looot. 🙂 )

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    • I agree…the doubts and questions are there regardless of working status. We are all working and doing our best and motherhood is 24/7 regardless. It all comes out in the wash and God is always providing and guiding. So I know we will be ok. Thanks for your encouragement and support!! It means a Lot! ❤

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  2. I can totally relate to this.. as a full time working mom I never feel like there is enough time. Some weeks flow better than others.. and then there are times when I feel like I am really sucking as a mom and my job is too blame. But you just have to try again the next day.. and hope you get back in the groove. You are doing a wonderful job with your sweet boys!! Try not to be so hard on yourself, because to them you are just perfect.

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    • That means so much Lauren…thank you! Your right, some days and weeks are flawless, while others feel completely wrong. But it all evens out somehow and we can know we are doing our best even when it doesn’t feel good enough.our babies are headed to have us, and we are blessed to have them! Thanks again for your encouragement and support. 💗

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  3. Thank you for posting all these things every day. My husband works 2 jobs, sometimes 3 depending on the week, so lets just say he’s rarely home and it’s not easy having 2 boys (8 & 3) while working a full time job. Luckily I have my mother and mother in laws help (which we dont know what we would do without them) and PT day care for the little one, but as you said, it’s not fair/right that other people are watching the little people that came out of our bodies more that their own mother. I always feel terrible as if I dont spend enough FUN MOMMY time with them, bc either we’re running around with sports or on my free time I’m trying to do some housework, or I’m just SO tired from doing ALL OF THE ABOVE!! But this article made my day..we are HUMAN, we are not robots, we are not ALL Mary Poppins in this world, whoever is MUST have a nanny! Thank you for all of your blogs, they always make me feel better, as if I’m not alone OUT THERE! 😀 God bless you through all your struggles, I cant imagine doing all this as a SINGLE mom, even though sometimes it feels like it. 😦

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    • Oh my gosh thank you for this heartfelt comment. It means so much and is so encuraging to know my posts have been meaningful to you. Thank you for sharing this. Parenting is hard no matter what the circumstances, but we do our best and we give all our love and somehow, things always work out. 💓 thanks for being here and sharing your heart with me too!

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  4. I can identify with this so completely, especially this week. I have felt like my reserves are depleting the last couple weeks between work, the kids and all their activities, the house, and a husband who works full time and is going back to school. I often feel that I don’t get enough time to just relax and PLAY with my kids, and in the end that is what they really crave. I find my patience wearing thin more than I care to admit. Just hang in there, you are not at all alone in feeling this way!! Love you 🙂

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    • I appreciate so much knowing I’m not alone! Thank you Katherine… It sounds like the chips are piling up for everyone here lately, as they often do, and it’s hard when that happens. But I know you are an amazing mama and those babies are lucky to have you. There just aren’t enough hours in a day! You’re doing a beautiful job and I am so proud to know you. Love you so much! Thanks again for commenting. It always makes me happy to see your name in thiese comments. 🙂

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  5. Thank you!! I go back to work this Friday and have been feeling so sad and as a single mom the thought of someone spending more time with them than me kills me 😦 You know my exact feelings and I thank you for sharing keep up the great job mama!

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    • Oh I’m so sorry! That is a big hurdle to jump and I know your pain and angst well. It gets better but not necessarily easier. You’ll get through it though! You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this next phase. ❤

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  6. Thank you for the encouragement, Rachael! I’m a SAHM, but I have many moments of feeling like the worst mom ever, for not enjoying the kids more, for getting too busy, for losing patience, for forgetting to be thankful for the privilege of being home with them. Moms get really good at beating themselves up. That’s why I appreciate the reminders & encouragements from other moms, like you, in the trenches or who have gone through this before.

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    • Aww Ai, thank you. That means a lot coming from you. You are a beautiful woman and mother, inside and out and I am positive you’re doing a wonderful job, even in the moments you feel you’re not. It’s hard no matter what the circumstances, but I know that God has us where we are supposed to be. ❤

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    • Thank you Theresa. I don’t always cut myself slack, but it is necessary to try occasionally because otherwise we may go completely insane with guilt, no matter what our situation is haha. Thank you for your encouragement.

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  7. Great post. I, too, have been on all sides of the fence. It’s all hard, and honestly, for me, being 100% stay-at-home is when I’m the most frazzled, impatient, stumbling around mom because I just don’t have that outlet to unplug as a mother and come back re-focused and rejuvenated. On the other side of that, you want to be able to spend as much time as possible with the babes. There’s no perfect solution! I think you’re doing amazing :). Good for you. We all criticize ourselves, regardless of our situation–you’re right. Thanks for the pick-me-up!

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  8. No matter how we do it, parenting is so incredibly hard! You are such an inspiration to me-I’m a stay at home mom and sometimes it’s too much! We do what we have to and remember and cherish the wonderful moments.

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    • Exactly Tarynn. it’s all hard and there’s never enough of us to go around however we’re doing it. But we do our best and that’s the important part. You’re doing a wonderful job for those babies and they are blessed to have you as their mama.

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  9. It’s hard, no question. So many single moms in this situation. I was able to stay home with my kids when my ex left, living frugally off the support money. I realize most single moms don’t have that option, and I’m super grateful. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. One thing no circumstances can ever take away from your kids is a mom who loves them and receives God’s love for herself. This is a helpful post! Powerful! Hugs.

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    • Oh thank you so much for that. You’re absolutely right. Love is the most important thing and there’s no doubt they have that! I’m so glad you were able to make things work well. That’s a wonderful gift for you and your babies. It’s all tough, single or not. Thanks for your input and understanding, encouragement and insight. ❤

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  10. All so true!! We try to be supermom and do EVERYTHING. Always remember that more often than not, when you feel like you’re not doing enough, your boys think you’re doing more than the sun! Anddddd you’re probably doing a million times more than many other people!!!! Keep it up, mama!!!

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