Written By: Samantha Gencarello Schwartz
I don't think there is a mother out there who hasn't felt the dreaded mom guilt at some time. It doesn't matter if you're a working mom, a stay at home mom or somewhere in between. No matter what we do or what choices we make as mothers, at some point that little nagging voice that says "bad mommy!" comes creeping in and takes hold. I felt it from the very beginning of motherhood. Mom guilt mixed with postpartum depression makes for one fun ride, let me tell you. I could actually write a short book on that first month of motherhood, but that's another story for another day. Honestly, I find that second guessing can become an obsession when it comes to my daughter. Do I let her have too much screen time? Am I feeding her enough nutritious food? Am I crazy for STILL nursing her? Do people think I'm a bad mom? Am I setting my daughter up for a lifetime of psychiatrist bills? It's a constant war in my brain.
An example. I am a full time working mother, so 5 days of the week I am away from her for 11 hours a day. I enjoy my job and I like to work, but I also miss my baby. This is a constant source of my mom guilt anxiety. Last month I spent a glorious week with Charlotte on our family vacation. I even let her sleep with my husband and me in the big king sized bed we had, so we had LOTS of quality time. Part of me felt like I was making up for always having to go to work and I enjoyed our vacation so, so much. But there were moments of the trip, like when she was melting down and refused to go in her stroller, or was trying to rip my shirt off on line to see Mickey Mouse, or just screaming from being over tired, that I immediately thought "I CANNOT WAIT TO GO BACK TO WORK." And then as soon as the thought was out of my brain the mom guilt came rushing in, chastising me for wanting to get away from my baby, because what mother thinks like that? So then I would try to hold her and be patient and remember I was cultivating a loving bond with my offspring, and then she would kick me in the face, and I'd want to go back to work again. And so the cycle goes.
I know my other working mom friends feel the same and my stay at home mom friends feel mom guilt when they want to get out of the house and away from their kids. We are all feeling this together. If mom guilt could fuel the world we would never need to pay for gas or electricity again. We could leave the lights on 24/7 and take cross country road trips and never run out of power.
None of us are always going to make the right decision. You can't be fully present at work and fully present at home and still be a functioning human, just like you can't be at home with your kids 24 hours a day 7 days a week and not long for a change of scenery. There will be times when a working mom has to stay at the office late and miss their kids bedtime. If you're anything like me, you will feel the stress of that weigh on you until your shoulders slump from the pressure. But you know what? In the long run, your child is going to remember all of the nights you WERE there and never the ones you weren't. And if you stay home and put your kid in a class a few days a week so you can sit back and watch TV and just be YOU again, they will remember the fun they had and not the fact that you weren't there. We have got to let that guilt go! Let it gooooo, let it goooooo, no time for mom guilt anymore! Let it goooo, let it gooooo, show that guilt the door! Wow, sorry. Got a little carried away there. Bet you're singing that song now though.
Honestly, as long as we all make a pledge not to raise a band of little entitled assholes, I think our choices are all pretty good. Remember, we're all in this together.