I think one of the biggest decision that a mother has to face is whether or not to work, and on what level. Before I go on, let me state the obvious, stay at home moms work their tales off and we all know that so I won't bother with belaboring the point.
When I chose my career as a photographer one of the perks was that I knew some day I would probably have kids and I would be able to have a more flexible schedule if I was self employed. Now this dream is my real life and I am able to stay at home with my son most of of the time, but also bring in some extra money on the side. Sure there are days that I feel overwhelmed with trying to juggle it all, but who doesn't? When I was growing up my mom had little part time jobs off and on. She worked for a dry cleaner, a nanny service, and even spent several years at McDonald's, not in management, but just as a regular minimum wage employee. I have always been grateful to have a mother that was present in our lives. We never went to daycare, she was involved in our schools, and we always had home cooked nutritious meals. On the other hand when she did work I respected her for doing what she had to do to help with the families needs. The important thing is that you do what is best for your family and sometimes what is "best" changes depending on the season.
For all the stay at home moms out there I applaud you. It can be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and I know because I am at home about 90% of the time. There is no greater gift that you can give to your child than your love, devotion, and time. No material possession that you could purchase would have as lasting of an affect as the sacrifice that you make daily as a stay at home mom. And to all the moms that are out in the workforce I commend you as well. It can be difficult to be away from home. You work all day then just when you want to plop down and take off your shoes you have to jump into your primary full time job as homemaker, it takes a special woman to be able to do this. For me there have been times I question my decision to work at all and you might feel similar guilt, but then I remember that this "working women" thing is nothing new. Even the Proverbs 31 woman was a business lady.
In other words it is a personal decision that isn't going to be one size fits all. It's tough, in and out of the home being a mom is hard work, but the end reward is worth it.