Why do I feel so guilty? How will I do this? Is there enough of me to go around? Do I return to work? Will I love my second as much as my first? Does my toddler feel neglected? Is she spending too much time in front of the TV?
When it was time to return to work after my first daughter, I was torn. How am I supposed to leave my daughter for 12 hours to take care of other people’s children? I had guilt overshadowing me that I was “giving up time” I could be spending with her. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job or want to return; I have a passion for what I do. But, I wanted to be home, and I wanted to return to the job that gave me purpose, the one I worked so hard for. I wanted to have a piece back of the person I was before I was a mom.
Throughout the first year of my daughter’s life, there were multiple experiences where I experienced guilt. However, after a lot of work on myself, my working mom guilt began subsiding.
A Growing Family
Two weeks after our daughter’s first birthday, we found out I was pregnant with our second child. I was excited, surprised, anxious and feeling a plethora of other emotions. I was questioning myself: how will I raise two children when I’m still learning one? Will I love the new baby the same? I also accepted a new position before we found out about the pregnancy, so my maternity leave would be unpaid. How would I help support our growing family? The guilt began to build again…
A Mother’s Heart Can Only Grow
After the birth of our second daughter, some guilt went away as I learned a mother’s heart grows with each child. You experience love like you never knew you were capable of. However, the next few months were a whirlwind. There were good and bad days and new experiences with two under two that made me question if I was doing this right. It made me question if having two was the right choice.
When it was time to get back to work this time around, I was ready. I was actually thinking of only taking eight to ten weeks off instead of the 12 I initially planned. I began questioning myself again: is it bad that I thought of work as a break from my children? Do I not love her as much as I thought? Why would I want to return to work early?
The guilt and anxiety consumed me. I wasn’t taking time for myself, and I needed to refuel my cup. When I went back to therapy, joined a mom group, took a yoga class, and took time to work on myself, the mom guilt began to dissipate. I realized that as long as my daughters are loved and their basic needs are met, I have nothing to feel guilty for.
Motherhood has taught me self-acceptance and to allow myself grace. There will be days she watches television for hours and days we don’t turn the TV on. There will be days I hate leaving for work and days I can’t wait to get there. These thoughts don’t make me a bad mom, and I have learned that I don’t need to feel guilty for having these feelings. These feelings are normal and not every moment of motherhood is glamourous. There are days the guilt likes to try and creep back, and I remind myself to stay confident in my choices as they are what works for our family.