skip to main content
Sign in

Recent Searches

    Popular Searches

      Recent Searches

        woman holding her son

        Ask Lauren

        Mom Guilt?

        In the first installment of a new advice column for moms, Lauren Smith Brody answers questions on mom guilt—and even a lack thereof.

        Written By
        Lauren Smith Brody
        Hi, I’m Lauren, mom of two and author and founder of The Fifth Trimester movement, which helps create equality for moms. I spent my baby-planning, baby-making, and little-kid raising years working as a magazine editor (in heels), and now that my boys are 8 and 11, I’m working as an entrepreneur (in jeans) doing my best to support moms—and do school drop-off.

        Our theme this month is guilt —crushingly universal and yet get-overable, I swear. I hope these answers to real women’s questions help you go easier on yourself.

        Some basic tenets of this column, so you know where I’m coming from every month:

        1) I believe that all moms work. Some of that work is paid. A whole heck of a lot of it is not.
        2) I am biased by my own lived experience. We all are. I'll do my very best to acknowledge that along the way.
        3) No judgments. I'll work under the assumption that we all love our kids, want to be good moms, and are just doing our best.

        Here we go!

        Q: I'm an introvert and feel like I give the best of myself at the office. By the time I get home, I've used up all of my energy being an ambivert at the office. What can I do about this guilt? I think my kids are getting the leftovers of me.

        A: Your kids aren’t getting the leftovers of you. They’re getting the real you, the authentic you. The you that shows them that a quieter, introspective approach isn’t any less valuable. To them, you’re perfect, and your time together is a gift. That’s my philosophical answer to you. My practical one is this: Read to them. In those moments when I want quality time with my kids but am just too drained from the day to be creative or enterprising, we snuggle in and let someone else’s imagination take over. Mo Willems and JK Rowling, I so owe you!

        Q: Help, please. Saying goodbye to my 14 month old for work trips makes me want to quit. It feels like I’m dying inside.

        A: First of all—travel and work aside—that age is the absolute hardest, because toddlers have strong opinions and little ability to express them beyond a freak-out. But of course that feels extra awful when you’re peeling your son’s fingers off of your leg while trying to order an Uber to the airport. Remember: a) He might get *that* cataclysmically upset over a broken graham cracker too (no offense), and b) You’ve done everything in your power to make sure that he’s left in great, capable hands while you’re away.

        So really, it’s *your* needs I want to talk about—not your baby’s. Ask yourself: What do I need? What would make me feel better about this travel? And then, talk to your employer about it. We live in a Zoom/Skype world, so if the work is important enough that you be there in person, there’s probably a case to be made for you to have resources like breast-milk shipping, or an extra plane seat for a caregiver. Do you need to take the redeye so you can be home in time for daycare drop-off? Do you need an extra night of hotel because that redeye would leave you wrecked? Ask!

        And then make a plan for successful—not stressful—communication while you’re away. Texting a video message that can be played repeatedly is a better bet than an ill-timed FaceTime session.

        P.S.: Do one nice thing for yourself on every trip. A great meal while reading a book, a movie in bed. Consider work trips an opportunity to refill your own tank a bit—for your sake and your kid’s.

        Q: I feel like I experience a small amount of guilt because I *don't* feel guilty about working and mothering. What do I do about that?!

        A: My own mom replied to my Instagram question with that same sentiment! What if you feel guilty for not feeling guilty? It’s common! It’s not crazy. And yet, it’s just proof that working mom guilt is a social construct. Culturally, we don’t have the support we need to feel like great moms and great workers at the same time, but we place blame inward instead of trying to change the system, which gets us nowhere!! We are all just doing our best. And if you don’t feel guilty, you’re just more evolved. Cheers to you, and may we all take a lesson from your sensibility (yours too, Mom!).

        Q: How do I overcome guilty feelings for anything fun I do that doesn't involve my child?

        A: I hear this one both from moms who work outside of the home (who feel like every minute they have with their kids should be Impactful and Meaningful Parenting), and from moms who stay home with their kids and feel guilty spending money and time on themselves when they’re not the breadwinners. Let me ask you this: Do you want a kid who grows up to have friends? To take good care of herself and prioritize her mental health? Me too. And the best way to teach her is to model that.

        Lauren Smith Brody is the author and founder of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity and Big Success After Baby. You can follow her on instagram @thefifthtrimester.