Work Life Balance, Guilty Mom Syndrome

By Itunu Sofidiya (Follow us on LinkedIn)

I am the first to admit that I completely understand why many people don’t want to have kids. I have a ten-year-old son, who I absolutely adore.  However, mommying while working is difficult and expensive. I guess expensive is relative, because kids don’t have to bankrupt you. However, as a parent, we want to provide our children with as much as possible, and that costs money. Summer camps, after school care, music lessons, braces, sports, and the list goes on. Thus, I literally got into law librarianship because of my son. I wanted a schedule that worked better for my life, and my son’s life, and that didn’t include working 79 + hour work weeks at a law firm. This came at a cost. I lost money, lots of money. But I had a bit more time to be a mom. At the time it felt like a fair exchange. But was it really? 

Looking back at it, I made the right decision. But making this decision seems to get harder and harder by the day. It seems like the benefit of “time” in law librarianship has diminished especially since the pandemic. 

Disappointed black mother looking at her little daughter with reproach, sitting on couch at home

During the pandemic, I think that I worked harder than ever before. We moved to asynchronous models of teaching. As my wise supervisor once told me “ Itunu, perfection is the enemy of efficiency”. As a true Virgo, this stung. I wanted my teaching videos to be 100% perfect, when in actuality, teaching live is far from perfect. So even though I waived the white flag at perfection, I found it much more difficult to set clear boundaries with faculty, students, and colleagues. My workdays and home life began blending, and I started to realize that being a law librarian did not afford me as much time as I originally thought. During my time at home during the pandemic my son told me that we never spend time together. I told him I am with you all day every day, it’s the pandemic. His reply broke my heart. He said, I’m always at school online and when I’m done, you’re still working. You stop to make dinner, we eat, and then it’s time for bed.” That broke my heart completely. Mommy guilt kicked my butt and still is kicking my butt.   

To add insult to injury, and mommy guilt, the pay still hasn’t caught up with my level of education, debt, and all of the things I want my son to have. So when people ask me if I want another child, I resoundingly state “NO, I don’t have the time or money for another child.” However, maybe if a few things changed, I wouldn’t be so quick to answer. 

I am a strong advocate for increasing the median pay for law librarians, and increasing the amounts of scholarships provided to those in the field of law librarianship in order to improve the profession and to help diversify it. Of course, all professions believe they deserve a raise, but law librarianship is one of the only fields that requires three degrees, yet still pays less than six figures. At minimal, doing regular cost of living adjustments to salaries is a necessity.  

Additionally, we need to see the people in our organizations and pay attention to their needs. We have to consistently survey our staff and ask them how we can aid in helping their work-life balance. Some people need to come into the office, and they should have that option. But for those who need to be able to save gas money and commute time, find ways for them to work from home. We also have to remove the absurd notion of fairness when it comes to working from home. If you can do your job from a computer, then you should be able to work from home. If you can’t (meaning it is impossible to work from home) then there should be other incentives given, such as shorter work days or weeks, or a commute stipend. 

Ultimately, there is no one size fits all solution, but that is not an excuse to twiddle fingers. We need the institutions and those who wield the power to be more flexible to change.We have to recognize that there is not a one stop shop model for an effective and balanced workplace. Extra time has to be taken to survey the needs of the librarians and staff in each organization and institution. After the survey, organizations and institutions must act accordingly to meet these needs. I am not saying that doing all of this will cure mommy guilt, or make more millennials want to have children, but at least it is a start. 


Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. The essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.