Mom guilt. It is a real thing. We stay awake questioning many steps throughout our day trying to shake the feeling we did something wrong (even if we know we didn’t). We second guess decisions when other moms challenge our stance. Lots of subjects are hot topics for inducing mom guilt. And it can come from anywhere, at any time — especially from within. I know I have struggled with it.
But two topics have never made me feel guilty: 1) choosing not to breastfeed, and 2) going back to work.
When I was pregnant with my first, I never wavered on wanting to go back to work. I loved my job, my co-workers, and just being around people (I am very much a social butterfly). My husband supported me in my decision to go back to work and never questioned me on if I wanted to stay home. At that time, most of our friends did not have children and I did not know any young stay-at-home moms. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and I definitely appreciated her being home every day for us after school and whenever we needed her. But I am not my mother (who is AMAZING, by the way) – I knew I would not thrive staying home with a baby, especially without a support system of other stay-at-home moms.
Even after my daughter’s birth, I did not question my decision. Maternity leave was HARD (we struggled with acid reflux and didn’t realize it until she was two months). I was ready to go back after seven weeks. I loved my baby more than life itself – but I needed to be at work accomplishing more than just cleaning spit-up off everything I owned. I had no tears my first day back. I do believe I called my in-laws a couple times throughout the day checking in, but I did not feel guilt. Part of this could be that she was at my in-laws’ house. Part of this could be that I just didn’t feel guilty about working. Even at four months when she finally went to daycare, I did not feel guilt and did not cry.
When I think back on my career since having children there is nothing that I would change. Being a working mom (outside of our home – because ALL MOMS are working moms) has made me a better parent. It has helped me cherish all the moments I spend with my kids. And being a parent has also helped me be a better employee. What does not change, however, is that my kids and family will ALWAYS come first. No amount of working will ever change that – and my employer recognizes that and understands that. THAT is what helps me keep balance and understand the guilt of NOT feeling guilty.
When does working outside the home feel impossible? When your child cries at daycare drop-off. When you see your SAHM friends doing fun, spontaneous activities (like stopping at a local cake ball bakery or having fun play dates). Ironically, a lot of my friends ARE stay-at-home moms. At times I struggle with not getting to do fun things with them. However, I know it is not always spontaneous trips and sunshine. And it would be those down moments that I would struggle with.
I am not here to justify my decision to anyone. I don’t need to and neither does anyone else. What I am here to say is that working moms who feel no guilt about working – you are not alone. Be proud of your accomplishments and your job! And don’t let the guilt of NOT feeling guilty pull you down.
As for choosing not to breastfeed – another post for another day. Today let’s put away our guilt and pressures and lift each other up.