Mom Guilt. I don’t remember reading about it in my pregnancy books. It wasn’t anything that I was prepared for. Still, millions of mothers experience it every single day. It is the overwhelming pressure to be an attentive, nurturing, teaching, happy mom as you manage all your other responsibilities of the day.
When my first son was four months old, I returned to my job and working outside of the home. I spent the majority of my day earning money and not being with my baby and I felt guilty. I stopped breastfeeding and I felt guilty. My baby spent the same amount of time sleeping in those tiny beds at daycare as he did in his own bed at home and I felt guilty. When you are a working mom, every smile, word or first step that you don’t see is something that you will always miss. I made up my mind that I would sacrifice whatever it would take in order to stay home with my son.
What I didn’t know was that the guilt didn’t go away as a stay-at-home mom, it simply changed. As our family grew, I felt guilty that I wasn’t spending equal amounts of time with each child. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around for building Legos, reading a book and playing a game all at the same time. Not to mention how I felt if I wanted to take them to the gym so I could work out. They would beg me to just be able to stay home and play instead of going to the gym or running an errand. Talk about a motivation killer. I felt guilty that I couldn’t keep up with the house, the kids and the errands during the week. I felt guilty that I wanted to hire someone else to watch my kids just so I could have a couple of hours to myself. And I felt guilty that sometimes I wanted to go back to work. What kind of a mom was I if I wanted a break from my children?
Normal, I think. For me, it continues to be a never ending circle. Like many women, I put pressure on myself to keep the house clean, stay caught up on laundry, make healthy family meals and spend as much time with my children as possible. It’s multitasking in survival mode. And sometimes, I just need a break.
I know women that stay home with their kids and mothers that work outside of the home and we all share the same thing. The Mom Guilt is always there. It is the disappointment you get from missing another sports practice, school field trip, or your baby’s first precious word. Or the tightening you get in your chest as you leave your crying child with a sitter (maybe even your husband) so you can get a much needed haircut. It is the breaking of your heart when your child looks deep into your eyes and pleads, “I just want to stay at home with you.” You can’t avoid the guilt, but sometimes you need to just soften its voice.