Managing Mommy Guilt


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If you’re a woman with children, you’ve felt it — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Mommy Guilt is an equal-opportunity offender. It strikes whether you’re 25 or 45, CEO of your home or a Fortune 500 company, living in a small town or big city.

Women who work outside of the home haven’t cornered the market on it. Work-from-home and part-time working moms feel it, too. Mommy Guilt doesn’t discriminate between women who have family around to help, either, or moms who depend on nannies, babysitters, day cares or schools to keep their kids safe and happy while they work.

Full-Time Guilt

Kristi Roe, 41, of Charlotte, has two children: Spencer, 6, and Harper, 5. Her husband, Greg, 45, is an information technology security analyst at Wells Fargo. She experiences Mommy Guilt from both sides — as a mother and as a family counselor. Currently director of patient experience at Carolinas Healthcare System, Roe previously owned a counseling and consulting business, and still counsels several clients, mostly women, on family issues.

Roe says Mommy Guilt is real. The level of guilt “depends on who you are. All moms have some level of guilt,” she says. “I think many women feel pressure to do things a certain way … the food they feed their children, the way their children behave. Parenting is intense. Sometimes women lose themselves in their child; they try to micromanage everything.”

When her son was born, she started with a nanny and worked part time for a while, since neither she nor her husband have family in the area. “But when my daughter came, we put both of them in day care full time,” she says. “And they were both fine.”

Roe’s career is important to her. She works long hours and travels frequently, so she often experiences Mommy Guilt. But she doesn’t let it overtake her.

“I’m very passionate about my career path,” she says. “My job is important to me. I’m ambitious. The guilt would be worse if I didn’t feel good about my children’s lives. But I do.”

Even full-time working moms who have plenty of family around to help take care of the kids still feel twinges of guilt. Sherri Weddle Bowen, 44, of Winston-Salem, works as director of the office of the president at Forsyth Technical Community College. She is also the college’s team captain for the March of Dimes and sells a line of flameless candles.

When Bowen’s children, Cody, 10, and Dakota, 8, aren’t with her husband, Marty, 45, a captain at the Lewisville Fire Department, they hang out at her parents’ or in-laws’ house.

Once a year she comes in to work late so she can be there for her boys’ first day of school, “but that’s the only time I do it, and I don’t pick them up,” she says.

Bowen juggles her kids, husband, job and activities with “lots of planning.” Her husband is the primary cook in the house.

To find balance, Bowen says she has to make choices. “I say that you can pick two of three things: your sanity, a clean house or your family. I choose sanity and my family and kids.”

Part-Time Guilt

Libby Perry, 33, of Cary, admittedly experiences Mommy Guilt, too.

“I feel guilty for working with young kids at home,” she says. “I feel guilty when I think I am letting the 4-year-old watch too much TV. I feel guilty if I think that maybe I spend too much time looking at my phone around the kids. I feel guilty that I don’t take as many pictures of the 1-year-old as I did with the 4-year-old. I feel guilty that I don’t always cook healthy enough meals.”

A Pittsburgh native, Perry works for a software company in Raleigh. She has two children, Meadow, 4 1/2 and Domenic, 1 1/2. Her husband, Tony, 32, works as an executive for a pharmaceutical company in Raleigh. Perry is grateful that her employer let her change to a 30-hour workweek after having her second child. While her husband works long hours, she says she tries to make managing a family and household while working as easy as possible.

“Things like Lowes Foods to Go, Amazon Prime and a housecleaning service are things that help,” she says.

Perry would love to minimize her Mommy Guilt. “I wish I had more time with my kids. And I wish the kids and I had more time with my husband,” she says. “As far as lessening the guilt, I’m still looking for ways to do that. I just remind myself that I am doing the best I can right now. Sometimes I feel like I am in survival mode!”

Amanda Harrell, 39, of Raleigh, a licensed marriage and family therapist at 3-C Family Services in Cary, also cut her hours after the birth of her twin sons. She says she spent the beginning of her career “going full throttle, going 100 percent. I was working from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.”

When she had her first child, daughter Harper, now 6, Harrell was able to maintain a full-time working schedule. But when her twin boys, Quaid and Hudson, now 4, came along, Harrell says going to a part-time schedule “was an easy choice.”

Harrell now works two days a week, seeing clients “back-to-back” from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. When her children are older, she says she will go back to work full-time.

Harrell says her husband, Jim, 39, “works insane hours” as an attorney, but they find time together as a family on the weekends. “The kids go to bed fairly early now, so that’s a way my husband and I can have time to hang out,” she says.

Counseling the Guilty

As a family therapist, Harrell often works with women who experience Mommy Guilt. She first tries to determine if the guilt is justified.

“A lot of women are walking around with unjustified guilt,” she says. “They feel they’re not doing enough. They feel unworthy. In that case, there is a lot of work we can do to figure out and get to the bottom of their feelings.”

But if the guilt is justified, Harrell works with the client on ways to spend more time with her kids. “Maybe you do something special with your kids at the end of the week, maybe you attend a baseball game or other activity they are involved in on the weekends,” she says.

And, she adds, part of the solution is to schedule “me-time.”o-mommy-guilt-1.jpg

“Moms need time to themselves,” Harrell says. “Many have a hard time doing something nice for themselves. If you lack energy, are running on empty — you’re doing things halfway with your children.”

How do you alleviate Mommy Guilt? Tell us by commenting on our Work-Life Balance blog, where you’ll also find more tips on conquering your Mommy Guilt.

Anne Wooten Green is a freelance writer and editor from Winston-Salem. She still feels Mommy Guilt even though her children are 26 and 22.

 

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August 2019

August 16th is National Tell a Joke Day. Come to the Finley Center anytime during the day to share some jokes with the park community. A large board will be set up in the Exhibit Hall where...

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Erwin Road
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Knightdale Station Park
810 N. First Ave.
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

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Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
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Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
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Ages 11-17 learn how to make foods inspired by Asia. Register online. Choose course #124729.

Cost: $35/resident, $46/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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Stop in during one of our Back to School Open Houses!  Meet our instructors, tune your instrument, learn a quick song and more!. Aug 12th 7-8:30 Brass & Woodwinds Aug 17th 12:30-2:00...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bach to Rock Music School
9587 US 64
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Bach To Rock Music School
Telephone: 919-446-5386
Contact Name: Kelly Foster
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Cost: Free

Where:
Locopops Dessert Cafe
2618 Hillsborough St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

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Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Join us at Harris Lake County Park as we explore the wonders of water through educational activities and some for just plain fun! We will dip for critters in our pond to discover what lives...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
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Cost: Free

Where:
IngenuiTea Kombucha Coffee & Tea
514 E Williams St
APEX, NC  27502
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Sponsor: IngenuiTea Brews
Telephone: 919-438-3684
Contact Name: Mark Poole
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #124972.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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Cost: Free

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The Wine Feed
307 S Roxboro St
Durham, NC  27701
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Film to be announced. *Actual time to be determined by sunset. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics to enjoy a movie under the stars in our beautiful garden!

Cost: Free

Where:
GREGG MUSEUM OF ART & DESIGN
1903 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
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Cost: Free

Where:
Uptown Roxboro
211 N. Main St.
Roxboro, NC  27573
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Sponsor: Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 336-599-8333
Contact Name: Melissa
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Bring your friends and family to Learning Express for a Family Game Night. There will be several games available to play including popular board games, card games, arcade games, and dice...

Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
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Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Register online. Choose course #124903.

Cost: $15/resident, $19/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: $3/person

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Carrboro Century Center
100 N. Greensboro St.
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Cost: Free

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Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

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Binkley Baptist Church
1712 Willow Dr
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: North Carolina Boys Choir and Girls Choir
Telephone: 919-239-9083
Contact Name: Robert Unger
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Cost: Free

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Town Hall Campus
316 N. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27513
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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Leigh Farm Park
370 Leigh Farm Rd.
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Cost: Free

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Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
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Celebrate North Carolina farming culture and history at Duke Homestead. Don't miss the looping contest and Hornworm Race. This event features live music, local arts and crafts vendors, hands-on...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Homestead
2828 Duke Homestead Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Cost: Free

Where:
Uptown Roxboro
211 N. Main St.
Roxboro, NC  27573
View map »


Sponsor: Roxboro Area Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 336-599-8333
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace
201 E. Davie St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30 & 3:00 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Learning Express Falls Pointe
9660 Falls of Neuse Rd
#130
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Learning Express Falls Pointe
Telephone: 919-325-6057
Contact Name: Stephanie Gillespie
Website »

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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

Where:
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100 W. Main Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: First Baptist Church of Clayton and Horne Memorial UMC of Clayton
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Contact Name: Melissa Dooley
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Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

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East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC  27607


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Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
400 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC
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