We talk a lot about working mom guilt at home. But what about working mom guilt at work? Working moms tend to feel badly about leaving the office early, taking a day off, or even relaxing with family and friends. I really hadn’t focused on this phenomena until I read a recent Huffington Post article on Reverse Guilt by Carol Evans. As our careers demand our undivided attention, Evans describes reverse guilt with all-too-familiar examples:
“I feel this haunting sense of guilt about my work — not my family!” revealed a senior manager during the Q&A at a speech I gave recently. “I’m worried I might let my company down even though I’m going all out every day and then getting on my computer after I put the kids to bed.”
Case in point. As I stay at home today with my kids, I feel a tad guilty for not being more “productive.” (Ok, in reality, I’ve had an incredibly busy day making meals, going shopping, doing laundry, making Christmas lists, sorting old clothes for donations, and cleaning closets. So why do I feel guilty for not working!)
I’ve noticed “reverse guilt” creep in, even with my friends who don’t work outside the home. They get stressed over the volunteer schedules, bake sales, and expectations our communities place on stay-at-home moms perceived as have extra “time” on their hands. And they likewise feel guilty every time they say no!
Here’s the problem with reverse guilt. It robs us from having – and enjoying – a life outside of work! The easy solution is to turn on the laptop, stay up late to answer emails, or head into the office on Sunday night to play “catch-up” before the work week.
But is this just a band aide solution? It’s one thing to get your work done. It’s another thing to refuse to let go. And if we can’t let go, what does that say about our identity?
Our Creator recognizes our intrinsic value. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepares for us in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Knowing I am “God’s workmanship” doesn’t give me a license to become a slacker at work – to the contrary, I am motivating by grace, not guilt, to do my very best.
This is where grace comes in. As a child of God, I don’t have to earn anything. I am holy, blameless, forgiven, and even redeemed by the blood of Jesus. This doesn’t give me a license to screw up; it just gives me the freedom to be the best wife, mother, and lawyer that I can be. (Chasing Superwoman, p.215)
How do you deal with reverse guilt? Will you allow God to define your value – rather than your achievements at home or at work?