Mallika Chopra: Mommy Guilt – How Do You Deal with it?

The Mindful Mom Series with Mallika Chopra

When I told my daughter earlier this week that I had to go to NYC for work, she opened her eyes wide, looked disappointed, and replied, “But you said you weren’t traveling until June!”  My reaction: guilt.

I’ve been feeling a lot of guilt lately as I try to figure out work/life balance. And the more I talk about it, the more I realize that many of my women friends (moms and non-mom’s alike) are dealing with guilt too.

My friends who are moms that work long hours in the office are feeling guilty – they feel they are missing out on their children’s lives, not being there fully for their families.  Even the ones who don’t have kids or partners often feel like work has taken over their personal lives.  My friends who are stay at home moms and choose not to work  professionally are feeling guilty for leaving the work force after years of education and successful careers.  They fear they won’t be able to join the workforce again in this fast paced world and are often insecure about being financially dependent on their spouses.

Ten years ago when I got pregnant, I made a conscious decision not to get a full time job, wanting to be at home with my two daughters.  However, my various projects grew because of my passion for them – Intent (fortunately) is growing and thriving; more speaking opportunities and demand for meditation classes; and The Chopra Well, a new YouTube Channel, launches in July (make sure you subscribe!)

I like to define myself as a stay at home mom, but the last year has demanded more meetings, more travel, and being away from home for several nights every mont.   I am fortunate that I have an incredible network of support – my mom moves in when I leave, my husband has a flexible job, my brother and sister in law live 10 minutes away, and amazing mom friends help with the daily logistics.  I justify my travel by noting that my kids cannot have a better network of support.  And, I do firmly believe that parents are the most important role models for their children.  Won’t my daughters ultimately appreciate and respect me for working so hard?

Yet, when my younger daughter calls me at night, her voice quivering as she bravely tells me that she cant fall asleep without me, my heart still sinks.  Am I disappointing her by not being around?   Am I doing the right thing?

Here are some of the techniques I am trying to incorporate in my life to overcome my guilt:

1. Change My Internal Dialogue

Transitioning from “making sacrifices” to “making choices”.  I remind myself almost daily that I am fortunate and empowered to choose my actions, and determine my destiny.

2. Be Present
When I am with my kids, I try to be truly present with them.  In a world of electronic devices and email at any anytime, it is often hard to avoid work at all hours.  But making the intent to be present has helped me realize that not everything has to be responded to immediately.

3. Define Success For Myself

As an entrepreneur, I often feel insecure that I haven’t built Intent as fast as I could have, recruited enough sponsors, or marketed it enough.  The reality is starting a company is all consuming, but as a mom, I can only give it a certain amount of time.  Other companies may grow faster and see greater success – I have come to terms with defining success differently for myself.  I’ve chosen investors and partners who are committed to the long-term vision, rather than looking for a quick business exit.

4. Say No

Probably one of the harder things for me to do, but I am committed to being more disciplined about using my time wisely.

 

How do you deal with mommy guilt?  What are you coping techniques? How do you balance work and parenting and other personal commitments and desires?

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About Mallika Chopra

Mallika is Tara and Leela's mom. She's written two books inspired by them - 100 Promises to My Baby and 100 Questions from Her Child. She started Intent to realize her personal intention to connect with others by sharing and listening to each others stories.

Comments

  1. Love this, resonated with me even though I'm not a Woman or a Mom. I'm always feeling guilty that I could be doing more personally and for Go Inspire Go – but I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that everything is unraveling organically and perfectly — in alignment with my divine assignment!

  2. When guilt arises within me, it's a great opportunity for me to stop and take a step back. I know logically, that guilt is a useless emotion- however, it gets my attention and for that, I am grateful. So, then I release it as much as I can and see what's underneath. Could be limiting thinking, or a competing desire or a feeling that it's time to let my kids find a way to meet their own needs through other routes.

    Nice article, Mallika.

  3. Totally agree, absolutely awe-inspiring suggestions. One of the things that touched me the most was the support of the grandmother. I am totally of the opinion that a lot of pain and suffering as a human family that we suffer is due to the lack of "love" in our early lives and that becomes the case at a more magnified level because we no longer live in extended families. If parents were non-nourishing in their behaviors then maybe that grandmother could take up, or an aunt to take up nurturing the child and providing them with that emotional bond that every child needs. As parents we are more strict and disciplined with our children but when it comes time for us to be grandparents is where we end up with that outpouring of "unconditional love" so a grandmother being there with them is tremendously nourishing. The other part that touched me was the extraordinary bond that you have built between a mother and a daughter. There are so many children that would not care if there parents existed or not, cherish that. The other perspective to look at is that not only do your children need you but because of your remarkable efforts there are so many other people's lives that you are touching and transforming that it brings out that epitome of giving, so maybe talk to you your daughter about the sheer magnitude of giving back that is involved through your work. You have your unique skills one dimension of it is being an incredible mother but there are other dimensions that need to be fulfilled to, which is giving back to the community. Thank you so very much for posting about this.

  4. There's always a tug at your heart when you're a mom. My boys are 22 and 25 now and I still feel mommy guilt at times! Just comes with the territory I guess… You have a great approach, and keep in mind that you are continually setting good examples for your children, that we all must do our part and contribute to the world in the way we are called to do so.

  5. @Lissa Coffey (and sorry Intent if I go off topic here but with new formats and roll ups I can't find the old Intent Voices or authors otherwise) :

    So nice to see you on here…I used to be on Intent in the beginnings and just one day ago I thought about you…in terms of the Intent voices other than Mallika herself and the Intent team you were one of the few who used to reach out to the readers and always seemed so warm. I remember as a user blogger myself on the site us discussing my blog about my experiences with the first peoples of Australia…because your spouse was from there?

    Another voice I thought of at the time was Sara Maria for whom the only genuine word can come to mind each time I think of her is 'beautiful' so in my mind she is always 'the beautiful Sara Maria'! :)

    There was another lovely lady whose name escapes me know who had this powerful shamanic experience meeting her spouse I think…involving a wolf and she used to always talk about how scents affect people….her name escapes me now…

  6. Thank you everyone for your sweet messages. Its comforting to know that so many people deal with guilt – even men like Toan! I agree that I am blessed to have my mom as our anchor. My girls are so blessed to have their grandmother nurture, spoil and love them.

  7. Hi Mallika,
    The universe brought me to this blog tonight (and possibly to you)…I have been feeling much guilt this past year as a mother of my five year old son. (I have also been reading your two books…just finished the "100 Questions from my Child".) Your books and this blog message spoke to me on many levels.
    I am a working mom, president of our company, and have added the responsibility of home school. I have being experiencing quite a challenge to create that business/family/life balance. I especially like the way you made the distinction of using the word "choice" rather than "sacrafice". I have been qualifying my choices as a sacrafice…yet now I can see clearly how to shift that feeling. Thank you.
    I am looking forward to meeting you one day soon, I have already had the pleasure to meet your beautiful Mother at an intimate gathering she hosted earlier this year in her home. I have an intuition our paths are meant to cross, too. Sending you love and light.