Mom Calls Out Summer for What It Really Is: 'Mom Guilt Season' & Parents Everywhere Relate

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Mom hugs toddler close while standing in front of a pool
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When you're a kid, summer is pretty much the best season there is. It's a chance to forget about school and tests and backpacks full of homework for three glorious months. And, for most kids, all those pesky rules that made the school year such a drag -- such as waking up early and not being able to sleep over at friend's houses on a school night -- are quickly forgotten in a haze of pool parties, camping trips, and catching fireflies. But as much as summer can be THE FREAKING BEST for kids, it can also kinda be THE FREAKING WORST for parents. As blogger Megan Brameier recently pointed out in an essay, it's especially hard for working moms, who can't exactly make summer "magical" when they're holding down a hectic 9-5.

  • Nope. For working moms, summer is "mom-guilt season," according to Brameier -- and there's no getting around it.

    "Have you heard? Summer’s coming!" her post begins. "The teachers are counting down, the students are hyping up, the pools are about to open and everyone’s ready for some good summer fun!"

    Well, not quite.

    "Everyone except those of us who don’t get a break," she continues. "We have been scrambling to find childcare coverage for the summer months, and overpaying for summer camps that look really fun to compensate for the guilt of not giving our kids a break for the summer. The daily grind to get up, ready and out the door is a 12-month marathon over here, and the faint tune of the ice cream truck on a Tuesday afternoon is all the gut-punch it takes to make my eyes swell with tears."

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  • Brameier is one of the 7 out of 10 US moms who juggle a full-time job with parenthood.

    During the school year, this means orchestrating school pick-ups and drop-offs; after-school childcare costs a small fortune, and the iron-clad Monday through Friday schedule is basically nonnegotiable. 

    But once school lets out, things inevitably get trickier, which can make that whole summer "break" thing feel, well, not really like a break at all.

    Brameier writes that her own mom stayed home for most of her childhood, which has left her with fond memories of "lazy mornings being able to bum around, and roaming the neighborhood until the street lights came on." She recalls a feeling of "carefreeness that came along with the extra hours of sunshine, calming chirp of grasshoppers and glow of lightning bugs." Those are feelings that she longs for her own kids to experience -- at least more than they are able to.

    "We definitely reduce our activities schedule during the summertime to allow for more outdoor, unstructured time and spend most of our weekends poolside," she explains. But "the daily hustle" carries on -- regardless of what time of year it is. 

  • And so, the guilt -- and the FOMO -- begins to set in, only subsiding (a bit) once September rolls around.

    But she's far from alone. 

    According to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of parents admit that the balancing act of work and parenthood poses significant challenges, and working moms especially report feeling intense guilt over the time they spend with their kids. But with the rising cost of living and the reality that stepping out of the workforce -- even if briefly -- can make it incredibly hard to reenter, is it really any wonder millennial parents often have no other choice?

    Despite countless studies that have proven kids of working moms grow up to not only be OK but also happier, the messy emotions mothers often feel while they're in the muck of it all is real.

  • So what's the answer? Brameier doesn't necessarily have one other than to say to fellow guilt-ridden moms: I feel you.

    "If you’re with me mama -- your heart filled with a dash of sadness and the twinge of FOMO as summer quickly approaches -- I really have nothing but this statement of solidarity. You are not alone, and we can do hard things."

    "I wish you weeknights on the driveway, weekends at the pool and a margarita with your name on it every Friday at 5," Brameier continues.

    Because in between those hectic workdays and all-too-short weekends, there is summer fun to be had. It may not exactly be the same kind of summer as those '80s and '90s summers once were, but it is there and it is still good. 

    And guess what? It's still good for the kids too.