Updated: Jun 23, 2022
When my daughter was born, I knew I would only be able to take a one-year maternity leave. She was the fourth child in our family. My husband had three beautiful kids from a prior marriage. So we both knew I would be going back to work because I had to help support the family.
What I didn't expect was that I would be excited to go back to work. I mean I always knew I would be a working mom who would pursue her career before and after kids but I thought I would be more sad about maternity leave ending. Don't get me wrong, there were parts of the transition that were hard, like dropping Addy off at daycare and wondering if she was ok while away from me. However, for the most part I was so excited to get back to work. Part of it was probably because of my competitiveness. I wanted to get back to building my career and not "fall behind" while my co workers continued enhancing their careers. The other reason was simply that I love to work and for that I felt guilty.
I felt guilty that I was going back to work and that I was excited about it. I felt guilty that I would be missing so many moments with Addy. I felt guilty that I had an amazing job to go back to while so many others didn't. Let me tell you something. Every mom feels guilt. Whether it be because they are working, or feel like they should be working or because they work from home and feel like the kids have to fend for themselves. So if your goal is not to feel guilt, forget about it. No decision as a mother will be easy and guilt-free.
I'm here to tell you that you should do what you feel is best for BOTH you and your children because if you do what is best for you, your kids will benefit.
I grew up in a culture where women were moms. That's it. They only worked outside the home until they had kids and then they became stay at home moms. Now let me say this first. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a stay at home mom. I admire anyone who stays at home with their kids. However, if you are made to feel like that is your only option, it feels wrong (and a lot of other things). My parents were always so supportive of me getting a degree, pursuing my designation and building my career. They were so proud of me and I do not take that for granted. However, growing up and seeing next to no women and moms pursuing careers stuck with me so maybe there was some extra guilt because of that. Either way, I felt so guilty for going wanting to go back to work.
Then, in the 11th month of my maternity leave, one month before returning to work I found out that I was pregnant with my son. I worked for 7 months and then went on my second maternity leave.
When Sam was born I had a different set of expectations for how maternity leave was going to look like and what returning to work was going to be like. So I will say, it wasn't as hard (on the guilt side, finding child care was an absolute nightmare). Here's what I learned about mom guilt:
1. Every mom feels guilty about something.
One mom feels guilty about working while the next feels guilty for not working. Guilt does not mean you are doing something wrong so start changing the way you think. It takes work but you can get there.
2. If guilt isn't appropriate, you have to let it go!
If you keep holding on to guilt, it will seep in other areas of your life. It will affect how you parent and then you will really have something to feel guilty about (joking!).
3. You are more than just a mother.
There is nothing wrong with making sacrifices for your kids. We all do it. However, if you are giving up big parts of what makes you you, it will affect the kind of mother you are. I can say with certainty that I'm a better mom when I'm working.
So momma, you do what you think it best for you and your family. A happy and fulfilled mom is the best mom.
Before I sign off, I want to acknowledge that not every mom that is going back to work wants to go back to work. I know that there are so many mothers out there that would love to stay home with their kids but cannot because they have to support the family. Even though I do have to work to support my family, I would chose to do so regardless and I just want to acknowledge that.
I hope that if you are reading this and are feeling guilty about any aspect of motherhood, you can start shedding some of that guilt. It serves you no purpose, it only harms.