It is a truth universally acknowledged that Mom Guilt is a real thing.
Even when you have done pretty much everything within your power to be the best mom you could be, to protect and nurture and teach and care for your kid(s), The Guilt seems to remain–The Guilt over what you could have done better, what you could have done more of, what you shouldn’t have done at all.
It’s a real thing, folks.
I remember the first time I felt this phenomenon–Raven was probably only about ten days old, and I decided to do what I’d done before and take advantage of her mid-morning nap and take a shower. The problem was, during this particular shower, she decided to wake up and start screaming instead of sleeping peacefully through my “me time.” I had just lathered up my legs for a shave, and I had a dilemma—let her scream a few minutes longer while I finished shaving, or rinse everything off and hop out? Well, I decided that my legs were getting a little too beastly for comfort and so decided to go for the shave while my baby yelled and cried and made a big ol’ general hullabaloo in the next room.
And there it was, hitting me in the chest the second I went into the room and saw her red-rimmed eyes and tear-streaked face:
“How dare I shave my legs when I had a screaming infant?” I thought to myself. “I must be the most despicable new mother in all of history! What’s more important—getting rid of a little stubble or ensuring that my infant is able to trust that her mother will come when she needs her?!”
Little did I know that Mom Guilt seems to grow in proportion to the time in which I’ve been a parent so that, instead of lessening over time, the accumulation of everything I could be doing better or different or not at all seems to sit like a weight on my conscience, with an ounce or two added on every day for good measure.
Enter the fact that this morning at exactly 7:15 a.m., I left the apartment to go back for my first day of work since becoming a mom. Luckily, the baby was asleep soundly with her thumb firmly in her mouth—
Otherwise, I might never have made it out the door.
Or at least not without crying out loud, fat, ugly tears.
Before I became a parent, I always loved the idea of being a working mom—I could get the best of both worlds! I could continue to work on myself and my dreams and goals while simultaneously having a family of my own! I could contribute to the financial stability of my family but still be around to help raise my children!
And maybe work will be all of those things for me, someday.
But today, when I got a text at 11 a.m. from my husband saying that our baby had apparently gone on a hunger strike since I left and had refused to touch the bottle he was offering (despite one or the other of us having fed her by a bottle during that very feeding for the past two weeks or so), I started to have some serious fears that I’d somehow made a colossal mistake. Then, when I got a text from the sitter saying that she was continuing on her strike at 1:30 p.m., I was about ready to flee the school right then, come hell or high water or an ignominious dismissal from the teaching profession.
Basically, my baby refused to be fed by another hand until I got home at THREE O’ CLOCK.
Mom Guilt is a very, very real thing.
I know it will get better with time. (I mean, it HAS to, right?!) I know that eventually, this new routine of me working full-time and Raven’s time being split between Matt and our wonderful sitter will become our new normal.
I know this.
But it doesn’t take away the fact that I came home and just wanted to cry realizing that my baby basically hadn’t eaten for eight and a half hours. It doesn’t take away the guilt I feel that perhaps I could have done more than I did while trying to get her accustomed to the bottle and to formula over the past two weeks.
So, when people ask me how I feel about going back to work, let’s just say that I’m still not used to the idea (and nor is Raven).
For all of our sakes, let’s hope that this working mom thing really does get easier with time.