I try not to spend too much time wallowing in working mother angst.
There are moments when I succumb to the guilt, for sure, but for the most part, I try to focus on what's good about being a full-time working mom, namely that the girlies get to see me doing work that I truly enjoy, that excites me, challenges me, and (on most days) makes me a better person. I'd like to think I'm teaching them about balance, following your bliss, being accountable, having a strong work ethic. (And yes, I realize that you teach your kiddos all those very same things as a stay-at-home mom, it's for sure not an either/or thing...)
And not only am I lucky to have flexible job that I love, but I'm lucky that my husband has an incredibly flexible job too. So while we miss some school parties and field trips, we cobble it together and make it work, and everyone seems pretty happy (most of the time). Guilt just feels fruitless, so I try with every fiber of my being not to succumb to it. Except in the summer.
In the summer all bets are off. I am Guilty McGuilterson. I am guilt personified. I am a total wreck.
See, I had lazy, boring, totally relaxed summers when I was a kid... My mom stayed at home, so just "hanging out" for three months was a totally reasonable proposition. We played games, swam at the neighborhood pool, ran around with our buddies, watched television. We got a break. A nice, long, mellow break. Those summers of my youth are burned on my psyche as the type of summers that I think the girlies should be having, and they aren't. So I feel like a big, fat, guilty fail.
My girlies go to summer camp every day. Sure they swim and do ceramics and paint and have adventures with their camp buddies and play tennis and go on field trips and watch live monkey shows (don't ask). They're happy. They pop out of bed every morning raring to go even... but still I feel bad. I hate that their little lives are already so structured year round. I wish they had that long span of time where they got to stay in their PJs until 2:00 and eat too much ice cream and complain that they're bored (because being bored is the starting point for all the really magical stuff) and watch "Gilligan's Island" for three straight hours... (Well, maybe not that last one.)
So I try to make up for it. We play long matches of UNO and War after dinner. We swim in the dark. I let Audrey stay up way too late watching the movies of my youth while we cuddle on the couch munching on microwave popcorn (last night was a screening of the dramatic classic, "The Karate Kid"). I let them eat ice cream every night and wear the same outfit to camp two days in a row. It's wheels off this cobbled together fake summer of ours, but you do what you can, right?