I feel guilty at work and guilty when I’m not working—but why?

I am a procurer of many markets, a woman of many talents, and a mother who wears many hats.

Each day, I shuffle through my apparel, switching out my garments to fit what role is required of me. Sometimes wardrobe alterations are needed multiple times a day, as I slink out of one façade and into another. I am versatile and flexible; changing on a dime to accomplish the tasks at hand.

I am a mother, and mothers are deep, complicated souls who cannot be pigeon-holed into one position. We are multi-taskers, flying by the seat of our collective mom jeans.

I have my mama hat—

A floppy entity that is weaved together from straw. Chasms protrude along the brim, scars from motherhood’s many accidents. It is smeared with oatmeal and is always sagging in my eyes, as if the hat itself carries the responsibility of three small children.

From the moment I first placed it upon my brow, I knew that this was the greatest hat I would ever wear. Although it sees its share of sweat and tears, it is one my most treasured possessions. Sometimes, after little bodies are tucked into little beds, I stare lovingly at my mama hat, fingering the frays and appreciating the moments it has brought me.

I have my wife hat—

It used to be more polished. That beauty started out as a trendy piece that I would throw on for a date night out or a movie night in. It used to be accompanied by spontaneity and passion and there was a time when it felt like it was my most significant accessory.

But it took a beating in recent years—trampled on by tiny feet and sat on by the dog. It had to be temporarily placed on a shelf in the hall closet while I dealt with night nursing, colds and flus, and the robust demands of young motherhood. However, my children are growing older, allowing me to dust off my wifely fedora and put it back into rotation.

And last, but surely not least, I have my working hat—

It is a cloche hat, the iconic women’s fashion statement of the 1920’s. It is classy, daring, and makes me smile when I put it on. It fills me with poise and assures me that my well runs deeper than mother, and wider than wife.

When I wear this hat I am challenged. When I wear this hat I am fulfilled. This cloche hat does not take away from, but adds life to, every other facet of me. But as well as it fits, and as successful as I may be when I am wearing it, there is guilt sewn into its very stitches. And each time I place it upon my head I am filled with equal parts exhilaration and shame.

For as mothers we are expected to be adaptable in our fashion and yet we are criticized for showing too much pleasure in one specific style.

We are taught to mind our children, take care of our husbands, clean our houses and cook our dinners. And then, inevitably, we are looked down upon for doing so—because being “just a mom” is somehow not enough. And for some women, it is not.

Sometimes the need for mental challenges makes us yearn for more—beyond the bliss and reproach of domesticity.

But God forbid a mother works—and God forbid she likes it. Somewhere, scrawled neatly in perfect cursive and etched into every woman’s brain, is the dishonor of being happy, and seeking satisfaction, when she is not wearing her mama hat.

We have been conditioned to feel inadequate in every accessory—that somehow being fluid in our ability to change and accommodate, although it is expected of us, is wrong.

I want to be free from the heavy guilt of a working mother.

I want to relish in the frenzied, beautifully soiled nature of my frayed straw hat of motherhood, while feeling confident and stunning in the fedora of wifely attire.

I want to feel proud and righteous when my cloche working hat fits snug upon my head; to be content in knowing that I am anything but simple.

For I am a woman of many hats.

Chelsey Tobiason is a Boho mom, trying to navigate the murky waters of parenthood without spilling her wine. She writes her sassy blog, Girl from the North Country, to keep sane and document the absurdly delightful, and only slightly shameful, pitfalls of raising young children. She is married to Batman and lives in sunny Southern California with her family and their beloved, yet neglected, French Bulldog. To read more visit her blog Girl from the North Country at

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