I Feel Guilty…for Not Feeling Guilty

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If I had wanted to spend my days surrounded by small children, I would have majored in Early Childhood Education. Instead, I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English Literature, and spent my twenties and early thirties forging a sales career in both commercial and trade publishing. Enter marriage and a move; I found myself in another state, unemployed (we’d moved for my husband’s job), pregnant, and trying to envision how life as a stay-at-home mom would be, as I’d never before contemplated the possibility. IFeelGuilty My son entered the picture, and I was overwhelmed with joy, hormones, and the insane absence of sleep that comes with nursing a baby every hour-and-a-half. Around the time my son began sleeping through the night, I began feeling antsy and wondered when I would begin to feel fulfilled through motherhood. The answer, I came to realize, is that I would never feel fulfilled solely from being a mom. I needed more. I needed a different challenge, something that would challenge my brain and make me feel that I was making a valuable, tangible [financial] contribution to my family; I needed my career.

I spent those first 8 months of my son’s life taking him in, learning how to be a mom, learning to love in ways unimaginable, and gaining a newfound patience I didn’t know existed; I also spent it wondering how badly the gap in my resumé would hurt my career.

Feeling more rested, I began a public blog, with plans of using it to hone my writing skills, gain some new social media & marketing skills, forge a way to work from home, and most importantly, fill the inevitable ‘having a child’ gap in my resumé. I hate that career women often feel torn between motherhood and their careers, and feel pressured to resume working so as not to hit a bump in their career trajectories (or out of financial necessity). Women have the feminist movement to thank for this confusion of our roles (do we focus on building our career, stay at home to raise our children, juggle both?). In a way, the feminist movement was both a blessing and a curse, as I grew up knowing I was going to attend college and focus on a career, but never even considered the ramifications of juggling both career and motherhood; thankfully, I haven’t really had to…much.

This is where my guilt comes in; I feel guilty because I’ve not succumbed to the mom guilt surrounding many of the parenting decisions I’ve made. I love being a mother, but my world does not revolve around my child. There are so many other facets to who I am and having a rewarding career is one of them. Because I’m at home with my son, I’ve been slowly building a career that’s taken over a year to show signs of plausibility (and will allow me to both be at home with my son and financially contribute to our household). As a result of my forging a writing and marketing career during naptimes, bedtimes, and early mornings, I often feel harried and overwhelmed by trying to do everything without outside help. The reality is that my work often bleeds over into those times when my son is awake, and I am not ashamed to admit that I often put PBS on the television to occupy him while I work.

These are my truths: My son has known his alphabet since he was 17 months old, and is able to read small words at just under two years old; I’m pretty sure he learned this from the PBS show, Super Why. My son has been able to count since he was around 14 months old, and I’m pretty sure he learned this from the PBS show, Peg + Cat. Do you see where I’m going here? I can’t take credit for many of my son’s accomplishments because I’ve not really worked with him (I don’t sit down with flashcards and repetitively go over letters and numbers – he needs to enjoy being a kid for a bit). I do take credit for his love of reading, and his excellent vocabulary, as we read books together daily.

PBS has helped to occupy and educate my son, and I feel absolutely no guilt about it. Like the [silly] saying, A happy wife is a happy life, my motto is A happy mom means we all get along. Splitting my attentions between raising my son having a career often means that I don’t fulfill the role that society often dictates, but I’m perfectly okay with it (and sleep well at night). You can keep your mom guilt, thanks!

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Comments

  1. says

    I firmly believe that kids need space. I love writing, so I blog. When I am at my computer, I expect my toddler daughter to play by herself. She gets a lot of freedom around the house. I do spend time with her, but I think that kids learn better when left to their own devices much of the time. I remember having a lot of time to myself as a kid. I was able to explore my world at my own pace. Do not feel guity!
    Heather Johnson recently posted…L Is for Lion Handprint and Footprint CraftMy Profile

    • says

      You make a great point, Heather. I read a study, published last year, that emphasized the importance of independent play and brain development. My son is getting a little better about not hanging onto me while I work, but he has a way to go yet…

  2. says

    I too let my youngest watch some cartoons too. He is very smart and knows a ton of things. We work on some preschool stuff but nothing that is going to overwhelm him. I also want him to learn how to play by himself with his toys too.

  3. says

    Lauren- I absolutely love this. Your honest and genuine need for more than motherhood is something I believe all women have. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t have several components to their life in addition to being a mother! I think women get their ‘fill’ in different ways, and I respect each and every one of their choices. Good for YOU for sharing the message here. Sharing!
    Chris Carter recently posted…Twisted, Tangled, Tied, Trapped… Time for Psalm 23:2-3My Profile

    • says

      Thank you, Chris! I love when women can drop the ‘filter’ and talk openly and honestly; there is absolutely no shame in saying that you need more to feel fulfilled! Thank you for sharing :)

  4. says

    I remember before I became a mom I said I wouldn’t allow my child to watch television until they were at least 2-years-old. Ha! That certainly didn’t work out the way I planned. When I found out I could finally get a shower in peace if I put my daughter in her bouncy seat and turned on Little Einsteins or PBS and she would actually stop crying and I could get that much needed shower I caved. I went back to work when she was 10-weeks-old out of necessity but found that I actually liked working away from home and still do. I have had the same guilty for not feeling guilty moments myself.
    Michell LaVoi recently posted…SupermomMy Profile

    • says

      Oh, I was that same person with the TV restrictions…and then life happened! I did the same thing to grab a shower myself ;) Absolutely no shame here (my daily shower is the one thing I refuse to give up with motherhood). You are a #GoodEnoughMom!

  5. says

    Naturally, when you have your first, it’s all Kashi and slings, but then reality sets in and you have to shower, your breasts are beyond the help of lanolin and you.just.want.a.minute. The guilt is ferocious and the hormones don’t help. It’s hard to see balance when you aren’t. I never let my kids cry in the crib, that caused a visceral reaction in me, where I wasn’t the one moving my feet towards the nursery at break neck speed. But I have pictures of me and my first-born in front of the television, watching a sun – he was maybe 3 months old?

    Just like children need to become independent, we have to help, by letting them go, and finding ourselves again. It’s not an easy dance, but like dance, takes practice.
    Cristina recently posted…One in a MillionMy Profile

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