When I went back to work after my twins were born, I felt tremendous guilt. Granted it was only 20 hours a week, with a good chunk of that working from home, but the guilt was real. Shouldn’t I spend every waking hour with my new babies? Wouldn’t a good mother want to stay at home with her infants? Did going back to work make me any less of a mother?
Mom guilt is real. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, at some point we all suffer from it. We aren’t good enough, the house is messy, we lost our temper, and the list goes on and on. But it’s time to let go of the guilt. And here are some reasons why.
A happy mommy is a better mommy. I needed to go back to work. Not for monetary reasons, but for mental ones. Each night, my head was spinning with nursery rhymes and cartoon theme songs. I had started using words like “icky” and “yucky” on a regular basis. I needed adult interaction before my brain turned into mush. I was short-tempered and snappy. My entire life I had been a Type-A worker and suddenly I was elbow deep in poop and laundry day in and day out.
When I called my boss to say I wanted back in, she totally understood and was willing to make it work. She actually told me she knew I’d be back, even when I didn’t know it myself. Working gave me a sense of accomplishment and a life away from my twins, which is OK. Although I felt guilty at first, moms are allowed to have their own lives, too, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for it.
Kids feed off negative energy. We may not always realize it, but kids are extremely intuitive. One of my twins instantly knows when something is off. He senses something is wrong and immediately withdraws. My guilt would make me sullen and anxious, making him sullen and anxious. I realized that I needed to let go of my worrying, and embrace our time together. I needed to stop worrying on what I was doing wrong and focus more on the time we had together.
We all lose our cool. I have twin toddlers and a new baby, so of course I lose my temper. Quite often. And then I get down on myself for yelling, or cursing, or getting frustrated. It’s a bad cycle. But a lot of my momrades have told me they lose their cool, too. Sure on Facebook and Instagram we post glamorous pictures of smiling children, but behind the scenes we are all a hot mess, screaming our heads off, and bribing our kids with M&Ms.
When your kids get on your nerves (and let’s face it, of course they do) it’s perfectly OK to plop your kids in front of the TV and leave the room to compose yourself. Not many people can keep their calm in the face of a toddler throwing every toy out of the toy bin after you spent three hours putting them away. For the third time that day.
You don’t have to be perfect. In the beginning, I’d panic if the boys missed a bath, ate the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, or dirty dishes were left in the sink. I’d run myself ragged each night cleaning and straightening up, only to be totally frustrated the next day when the twins trashed everything all over again. Then one day, I gave up. Instead of cleaning up, I took a nap while the boys napped. And it felt good. And the world kept spinning, my boys still loved me, and no one but me realized the house was a little messy. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is your kids. And guess what? They think you’re pretty darn great regardless of a messy house, fast food dinner, or missed bath. Being perfect is overrated.
Block out the background noise. I have relatives who get overly concerned when my kids watch too much TV, don’t spend enough time outside, or play on the iPad. While I appreciate their concern, I have enough trouble reminding myself that I’m doing an OK job as a mommy without comments from the peanut gallery. Are your kids fed? Are they happy? Are they healthy? Good, then you’re miles ahead of many other parents. Maybe I should be sitting down and reading my kids five books a day, but I have three kids, a house to look after, and a career to nurture. I do the best I can with the time I have. I want to enjoy the time I do spend with my children and not apologize for the time I don’t.
Most moms experience some type of guilt. Maybe you went back to work too early, or maybe you gave up your career and feel resentful. But it’s time to forget about the guilt, give it the boot so you can enjoy your life, not only as a mom but away from your children as well. And no one has the right to make you feel bad about that. It’s your life and you only get one chance.