Mommy guilt

… is something I’ve successfully side-stepped since October. Which isn’t too bad in my humble opinion. I’m home by the time the kids really surface ( 2 pm) and hit the day and my company is rather flexible so on days that I need to attend school events I go in later and work later.

We were coasting along fine. And then a week ago the OA was travelling the entire week and the Brat and I were down with the flu, I had houseguests and I had office to attend too – my hands were full. And one of those days, burning with fever and nose running, I came home to find out that the Brat’s nails needed to be cut!!!!!!!!

Yes – his nails were ohmigod – in need of cutting. *Gasp of horror – I know!*

I cut them and then sobbed for an hour until the OA gave up all pretence of working and took pity on me.

OA: Whats wrong?

MM: *blubber something unintelligible*

OA: Right – his nails need to be cut. Anything else wrong? Is he hungry? Sick? Deprived? Unhappy? Missing out on any time with you other than the one hour after he gets back from school? Have you missed anything important in terms of milestones or school events ? Is he clingy? Insecure? Craving attention? No….

MM: *blubber, blubber, blubber*

OA: So he isn’t. Then what is the problem?! Are his nails dangerously long? Has this happened before? Yesterday was Sunday which is when you cut their nails – so you’re only off by a day? For the first time in six months you’re late on something?

MM: *blubber, blubber, sniffle*

The OA gave up at around this time and decided that the solution to the problem was to hug me, not try to make sense of it and allow me to revel in the guilt if that is what made me happy.

And I guess that was it. Thats all there was to it. Ever since I’ve gone back to work I’ve been on the edge of my seat. I don’t want the kids to suffer in the least bit and I work extra hard to ensure that they aren’t neglected in the least.

Meal plans are made, medicines are stocked up as though we’re going to war, the house is baby proof against anything serious, I stay up late nights working so that I can spend the daytime hours with them…

But I guess at times I am my own worst enemy. No matter how much I read to them and play to them, I am always on the lookout, waiting for myself to slip up. And so after almost six months I got my chance. It played on my mind for ages. And the truth is that it’s no biggie. It’s not that I don’t see it. I am well aware of the fact that there were plenty of days when I was still home that the kids nails needed cutting or that their little hands could do with a scrubbing. But somehow it didn’t seem to reflect on me too badly. I was home, I was around, doing a 100 things around the house and slipping up on one, or being slow to react to something wasn’t too bad. Because so what if their nails were long? Unke paas maa hai!!!!!

Sorry – bad joke though that is, that is what my thinking boiled down to.

I met a lady today, who I am related to, by marriage. A single mother whose daughters are my age, she’s done a great job with them and I admire her for the way she conducts her life. ‘The hardest thing, she said, is just the going back to work. Once you make that decision and re-join the work force, everything else falls into place. She is right. The hardest part was saying yes to the boss lady and going back to work.

But it seems that everyday is just an effort, swimming against the tide just to stay in one place. And today it struck me – the hardest thing is not going back to work…. the hardest thing is staying there. And most days I am looking for any excuse to throw it all up and stay back with my babies.


37 thoughts on “Mommy guilt

  1. “the hardest thing is not going back to work…. the hardest thing is staying there.” … Amen !!! Indeed it is !!
    You are indeed a wise lady MM to have pointed this out !!

  2. why do women work with a feeling that they are super humans? i mean family, work, self… like u said “I stay up late nights working so that I can spend the daytime hours with them…” dont ur body need sleep? dont u feel the daytime can also be used on self.. i dont know y i question am i questioning all that when i know its a visious circle.. we want the best for all n want no stone unturned to achieve that.. again trying to be super humans…

    pls ignore if it doesnt make any sense.. i read ur post and wished to say – relax!! n ended up blabbering dunno what! 🙂 i see you write such wonderful blog posts that is an indication in itself that u dont forget to breath some fresh air in for urself :). i should be knowing that,, right 😮

  3. I know the perfect thing for you. Baby number 3! Then you cannot go to work even if you wanted to and so many babies will get so much attention there will be no room for mommy guilt. What say…kaisa hai plan?

  4. You know I am a dad myself…..albeit a recent one….And, I am already suffering from that guilt….a guilt that takes most of us out for work day after day leaving kids behind…….in pursuit of a better life for our kids….life that we plan to buy from money earned in exchange for??? ……..Time, price that we pay…….And, I wonder if this sheer foolishness or madness is worth it…


    visit my daughter at

    & me at

  5. “the hardest thing is not going back to work…. the hardest thing is staying there.” …. Thats so true MM… Hugs to you for doing the balancing act…
    Its not easy at all.. especially the stress..
    I had support from my parents and I was working all these months after my baby.. Now I have taken a break for a while… What I have realized being at home is that its physically exhausting but not stressful at all.. Managing a demanding job, a home and a baby was just too much… And what you say is so true… When I am at home nails not cut on time don’t seem to bother but when I was working i used to feel so guilty…The only thing I feel I am missing when I am at home is to wear those crisp clothes, the perfume, the bag, the shoes .. Dressing well is also important for a woman to feel good 🙂 and I am such a rag at home..
    Will it be possible for you to negotiate a 3 day week or so… 2 full days without the man at home will give u a lot more time.. I seem to get so much done on weekdays but weekend holiday just zips past when the husband is around :).. Oops.. this turned out to be a huge comment !

  6. Nails! Sundays! I know what you mean. Been living with that stupid guilt for five years now. I think finally I am coming to terms with these things after so long.

  7. Oh MM, you are one of the most perfect moms I have seen. Please see yourself from others’ point of view!

    Hugs, Anjali

  8. MM, please STOP right now.

    U just can’t be saying this….just the other day i was telling our common friend that I am in complete awe of how you are able to do so much. And I am not kidding….with all that I see on your plate, you still have time to meet up friends and be there when needed (for instance!).

    U are doing more thatn your share and doing it very well so shut the F up and don’t worry about the nails 🙂

    Me: awright chandu masi – you come cut his nails on your way home from office 🙂

  9. “the hardest thing is not going back to work…. the hardest thing is staying there.”

    And this is my fear, perfectly worded by you. Which is why I keep wondering, should I even bother to try?

    Well, that’s not entirely true. Last year, I went for an interview, at a radio station. They offered me my own show, but that meant being away from home from 5 in the evening to 11 at night. Now, 6.30 to 8p.m. is like heavy-duty traffic time at home…you know what I mean, meal time, scrub time, wrestle them into bed time, story time and lullaby time. Even though the offer was fantastic, I said ‘no’.

    I don’t regret it, but truthfully, I sometimes can’t help but wonder…

  10. Oh MM so many things on your mind. I know you will manage and get over with these thoughts soon 🙂 Hows beanie after the catus touch?

    Me: oh she forgot within seconds. she was too much of a scaredy poo to touch it hard anyway!

  11. MM i haven’t had kids yet. Bu this is the part which scares me when I do have them – balancing between my personal and professional life.

  12. oh well! i hope you are feeling better afta the guilt trip and crying! :p

    you know i heard my mom once tell one of my older cousins that somehow she never bawled and fell into the guilt trap. maybe she is not emotional enough.

    today, i dont fall into it either and know it has nothing to do with being emotional or not. i am emotional, but i know that at the end of the day i am doing my best and Cubby knows he is loved and looked after! 🙂

    baaki, its one day at a time!


  13. Hugs. I stayed with my grandparents for a year and a half, when i was 2, so my mum could manage my baby sis and going to work. Honestly, to me, it made no difference, as they were fun years, and i dont remember it in much details. But my poor, poor mum, still breaks her heart and sobs over it…
    I just hope you take it a lot easier than she does! From what lil i know, i think you are doing a rocking job of being a mum.. 🙂
    I just sent a friend of mine, links from your blog, on getting her toddler to sleep in his room… 🙂

  14. The most difficult thing for me is to decide to have them knowing I shall then strive to be a super, too!! And honestly you are an amazing mother, moi thinks!! So don’t kill yourself over this! Cut a lil slack!!

    PS: That is how I started reading your blog after google reader recommended it!!

  15. dont make me cry and feel more guilty-believe me after balancing it so very well if u still feel guilty then i shud jump off the terrace immediately…u r the best mom a child can get-my daughter’s envy :brat & bean’s pride….

    Me: uff. old friends say anything and get away with it 🙂 hugs

  16. i am just back from a five day meditation camp which was actually a dance camp, and i am so so happy, and i had to read ur post and realize that eeks! my brat’s nails must have grown real long.
    now i am going to tie a thread around my finger real tight and not remove it till he comes back from school and i get him to cut his nails!
    mummy guilt? any guilt? put on some music and dance it off!
    a happy mommy is far better than a perfect mommy.

  17. “the hardest thing is not going back to work…. the hardest thing is staying there.” – MM- you said a mouthful! Even me, with our current situation, I’m still looking to find any excuse good enough

  18. Oh God MM!

    I dont know about the hardest thing, but aren’t you being a little too hard on yourself? Working or SAHM, which ever one you chose to be, you’ve always worked so hard at keeping everything in order! And you don’t need me to say that.

    I guess it is easier said than done. Sometimes one feels what one feels. Motherhood.. *sigh

  19. the hardest thing is staying there. And most days I am looking for any excuse to throw it all up and stay back with my babies.

    You know how I feel about this. I feel the most like this on days like today when I’m not doing anything at work that I couldn’t do from home.

  20. MM, you made me cry. I feel the same way. To top my already over-flowing guilt-ridden heart, my location is also changed from a 5-min drive to an hour drive.

    Can we sit in a corner and drink water to drown our woes, since both of us are teetotallers?

  21. (Insert of sour note)

    You do realise that if you keep this up, you run a serious risk of turning into one of those overprotective, overfussy, theyrestillonlylittlechildreneveniftheyre40 type of mothers?

    Me: oh yes yes. thats exactly what i had in mind as revenge…. 😀

    This job is good for you. Because when your kids grow up and go to college/start work/get married, then what the heck are you going to do?

    Me: umm…. go back to work then? i’ve come to the conclusion that you can always get a job. really. maybe not a career – but a job – always. and i think we’ve established that i’m not career woman material. i pine too much 😀

  22. hmm… you’re too hard on yourself. though i dont have kids so can’t say with authority, but it does sound like a 100 times stronger version of a situation i often face at work… e.g. if i have a deadline to meet on Monday, i can’t go out with the husband over the preceding weekend because it totally riddles me with guilt… i lock myself in a room instead, and then watch TV at a muted volume.

    So i end up neither working nor having fun. It’s silly, and sad.

    DON’T get trapped!

  23. 😥 Sorry! Glad OA is with you to take care of you when the family of hell descend on ya! 😉

    Me: uff. fisher. it was good to have you guys. seriously. the kids need to get to know their family and by the way – they’re still not letting me use the guest room because they think you will be back soon!

  24. “The OA gave up at around this time and decided that the solution to the problem was to hug me, not try to make sense of it and allow me to revel in the guilt if that is what made me happy.”

    Not bad, OA!!! Not bad, at all!!!
    Next time, don’t get too clever and start off with the “hugging” straightaway!
    Helps to start off with the trying to “make sense”, and THEN transition to the “hugging”!!!!

    Me: LOl! hello – he doesnt need to be tutored 😀 he’s wily anyway

  25. Man, the OA is a SAINT! Mine would just tell me to cut the cr** and that nails aren’t worth the angst! 😀 😀 (Which is true, they aren’t and yes, I know the nails were only a trigger for the guilt etc. etc.) and while I cannot help you feel better about the guilt (I’m of the opinion we all need to find our own balance in this) you can certainly teach him to cut his nails himself…I think mine started at about that age…helps with their fine motor control 🙂


  26. And most days I am looking for any excuse to throw it all up and stay back with my babies.

    when you find that excuse , please share it, so i can use it too.

  27. Read your piece and that got me thinking. As mothers we always feel guilty, whether the situation demands it or not. As a friend commented to me, better earn money and feel guilty rather than feel guilty without money. Cheers.

  28. Guilt is the mommy’s best friend. We’ve got to live with it I guess. No matter how perfect (and our own eyes we will never be that) we try to become, seems like we can never escape guilt.

  29. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don’t you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘Mommy guilt’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. 🙂


  30. oye! i was not fishing…just felt terrible over watching you work and work and entertain us :p ah…really we should stop doing the disappearing act in the afternoon on the poor babies… 🙂

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