Battling the OTHER type of Working Mom Guilt
A few weeks ago, I was spending the morning chatting with a group of girlfriends about life, as we sipped our Mango Black Tea Lemonades in the Florida sun. Our conversations typically cross multiple playing fields -- as we catch-up on our lives, complain about our men, and gush about our amazing children -- how it’s incredible that these tiny humans help us grow, without even knowing it.
Our conversation shifted toward work. Most of us are working moms, and I’ve noticed whenever I chat with other working moms, we all express the same sort of “guilt” -- the feeling of missing out on key moments, the feeling of not ever being or doing enough, the false presumptions that your children will resent you for always being away from them or home, and the list goes on and on.
I forced a half smile, taking a long sip of my tea, contemplating whether or not I wanted to say my next sentence out loud -- unsure of what others may think. I gave in.
“But what about the other type of guilt? Like, sometimes, I feel so guilty that I actually look forward to my daughter growing up. Most of the time, I fear I’ve forgotten who I am and what I want to do with my own life, because I’m so focused on raising someone else.”
“Hear me out -- before I became a mom, I had goals and dreams outside of being a great mother. Career aspirations, travel plans, and I was really working toward all of them. Of course, we wear multiple hats, and the hat of mother came into play, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. But, sometimes I feel guilty in the fact that I actually really enjoy going to work. I feel guilty that with each day that passes, my little girl is growing up and I’m loving it. I get to see it firsthand, I get to watch it, help shape and mold her into the woman she will eventually become. I also get to see a tiny glimmer of light that shines on the fact that she will soon, before I know it, grow up, move away from home, and start her own life without me -- and I don’t want to look back and think to myself, damn -- I could’ve done more for myself, too.”
One of my friends spoke up, “Don’t you feel like you are sounding a bit selfish?”
I thought about it for a second, and replied, “Shouldn’t we all be, from time to time?”
I think this is the taboo “guilt” that many moms don’t like to speak about. Yes, the days are long, the years are short -- cherish every single moment, because they will be grown before you realize it. I wish I had a dollar for each time someone asked me, “Oh, don’t you miss when she was little -- a sweet baby you could just hold in your arms forever?”
Honestly, no. I don’t.
I don’t miss the sleepless nights. I don’t miss worrying ALL.THE.TIME. whether she was eating enough, drinking enough. I don’t miss the crying. I don’t miss the dirty diapers, the blowouts, the teething. I don’t miss the communication barrier of not being able to understand what is wrong, or what they are trying to say. I enjoyed all of those moments as they came and went, some more than others, but I don’t miss them, because look at where we are now from where we started back then.
I’m loving each and every milestone we hit. I’m loving watching her grow up and learn. I’m enjoying watching her mind grow, having conversations with her that are comprehensible, seeing her expressions and excitement about the big world around her.
I’m also loving the fact that as she grows and becomes a bit more independent, I’m starting to remember who I am outside of being “Mom.” I’m remembering that I can make time for me, I can enjoy my own passions and explore what that means for my own future.
I’m also remembering that I get the amazing opportunity to be the example and set the example for her. I can show her that becoming a parent doesn’t mean you have to choose between being a great mother and having a career and/or goals for yourself.
You can do both.
You can do anything.
And, It’s perfectly okay to be selfish sometimes.