Hi guys! Today, I want to talk about dealing with working mom guilt. I was recently talking to a new mom who is about to go back into work after having her baby. I wanted to check in because I know going back to work after baby is tough. She is doing well and has already bounced back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Yes, I will admit I was envious! When I went back to work, I had to go out and buy an entire wardrobe. Black pants became my new best friend!
Baby is doing amazing and my friend has found a wonderful nanny to watch precious baby while she is at work. However, she did not seem herself and I could tell that something was not right. She burst into tears and told me how frustrated she was that one of the most common questions she has been asked over the last month is whether or not she is going back to work. This mommy had no intention of staying home after the baby. However, now that she is continuously asked about her career status after baby she is having major guilt. She is really questioning if she made the right decision and, even worse, is doubting herself as a mommy. Come on guys, I really thought that we have moved past the Mommy Wars!
The Guilt is Real
Unfortunately, I remember this guilt all too well. When my oldest was born, staying home with her was not an option. We were dabbling in the real estate business and needed my income. So, I did not have a choice. However, if I did I am pretty sure I would have chose to return to work. Regardless, that transition back to work was one of hardest of my life.
I vividly remember dropping my daughter of at daycare for her first day. I started looking into daycare centers shortly after I found out I was pregnant and picked the best place possible. For those of you that have been down that road know that it is a painful process and it is nearly impossible to find.a place that meets all of your criteria. However, we found a wonderful center. She was in good hands, but yet I did not feel like that at the time. It felt as if I was making the worst decision of my life. I remember thinking that if we waited a few more years to have a child we would be in a better financial situation and I would not have to work. I also remember thinking that there was no way I was going to make it through that first day.
While I would love to say that things got easier, the truth is they only got more challenging. At the time, I was in a field position in which I visited various client locations. I had some pretty awesome clients who really respected me. As a result, they tended to be a little too honest with me.
Working Moms Miss Their Babies, Too
I remember being back at work for about a month and one of my favorite clients started asking me about my daughter. It was so excited that she brought the subject up and I was happy to bring out the pictures! I am a pretty humble person, but I am also a proud mama and love showing off my kiddos. For whatever reason, she decided that this was an opportune time to talk about her viewpoint on working moms. She made a comment about how she would have never been able to leave her baby with strangers. Yes, she said strangers! I don’t know if it was the guilt or the hormones, but I burst into tears. As I was driving back to the office, I was reciting my resignation speech in my head.
There was another time in which my daughter was teething and was very upset when I dropped her off at daycare. I did not feel right about leaving her, but I had a big meeting that could not be rescheduled. In the lobby of my client, I started having a very tough time breathing, I felt like my heart was going to fly out of my chest and I was sweating like crazy. I had never felt like that before and I freaked out. Later, I found out that it was a panic attack. I had so much guilt about leaving my daughter in daycare that I had a panic attack. How insane is that?
Work Mom Struggle
The guilt is real! The struggle is real! There is not one mom that I know that was just dying to go back to work after their maternity leave was up. It is a rough transition and the last thing a new mommy needs is an opportunity to doubt themselves even more. Those first three months are hard enough. A mom returns to work for a reason and whatever that reason is, it is certainly not because she wants to spend hours away from their precious child.
Support, Not Discourage
I am sharing this with you today because I want you to know that it is okay to feel guilt. It is okay to doubt your decision. It is okay to have days were you wish you were home with your baby in your arms. This just attests to the fact that you are one amazing mom. While the guilt never goes away, it does get easier. While I still wish I could have stayed home with my babies more than three months, I am glad that I made the decision to go back to work. My kids are both thriving and I know a lot of that has to do with them being around others at an early age and the structure and order we had in our home due to being a dual working family.
If you have a new mommy in your life, please continue to encourage her to be the best version of herself. If that is a career mommy, schedule a lunch date to catch up. I lived for some time to catch up with adults outside of the office, but I was way too tired for a night out on the town. If she decides to stay home, try to encourage her to get out for a night with the girls. I went stir crazy those first couple of months, so I can’t imagine what it must be like to go down that path. Whether she is going to admit to it or not, she really does need you to be a part of her village. Regardless of her decision, I am sure she is doubting whether it is the right one.
Live Your Dreams
If you are a new mommy, savor every moment you can with your precious bundle of joy but also don’t lose site of who you are. You can fulfill your dreams, whatever those may be, and be an awesome mommy at the same time. There are always going to be haters and those that do not agree with you, but only you know what is right for you and your family. Do not let anyone else tell you otherwise! It is okay to feel guilty at times, but don’t let that hold you back from being the best version of yourself.