Ongoing battle with mommy guilt

I’ve talked about this before but it is something that still is at the forefront of my brain nearly every morning as I walk out the door to go to work — guilt.

The concept of mommy (in my case) or daddy guilt is very real. I think no matter how prepared or experienced we feel as parents, that dreaded “pit in your stomach” sense of guilt pops up; and in my case I feel like it pops up pretty frequently.

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And the source of this mommy guilt for me is varied when it comes to my son Miles — is he watching too much television, is he getting the right foods, was that reprimand too harsh, do I spend enough time with him? And the guilt with my yet to be born son has already started — am I resting enough, did I forget to take my prenatal this morning, am I pushing it too much, how is my bad heart impacting him?

But the biggest and toughest guilt hurdle I’ve encountered is working. I have several friends who are stay-at-home moms and I see the joys and challenges they face in raising their children. And heck, my husband is a stay-at-home dad so I see firsthand the things that I miss.

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But you know what, I have this messed-up guilt complex when it comes to the me working part — I love my job. It’s rewarding, stimulating and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So this, of course, causes me to have some guilt because in many ways I’m happy I get to go to work.

The other side of that guilt sandwich comes in, and for the last few weeks has been coming down on me pretty hard, when my son says he’s going to “play mommy.” He goes and grabs my shoes and purse and says, “I’ve gotta get ready for work.” He walks around the house in my shoes carrying my purse. “Gotta go to work. Kiss, kiss. Hug, hug. Love you, bye. See you tonight.”

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Over and over and over again. And each little gesture and phrase — while initially kind of cute and made me laugh, especially when he was walking around with no pants doing this — hits me in the gut. Guilt.

When my son is “playing mommy” he pretends to leave. Ack. That kills me to think about. Are those the memories my little guy is going to have of me — me leaving for work? I do my best to be engaged and make lots of memories in the limited time I am home but it’s this repetitive task of getting ready and leaving for work five days a week that sticks with him not the frequent trips to the zoo or playing in his pool outside for hours or riding bikes up to Garvin Park.

And these last few weeks have been even busier and longer work days for me meaning there’s even been a night or two where I’ve just come home in time to put him to bed. The guilt sinks in even deeper.

How do I combat it? What’s the solution?

Not working certainly isn’t an option for several reasons — we depend on my income to support the family and I NEED it for my sanity. I’d miss it terribly. I think in a perfect world where money weren’t a factor (I know, I laughed at the thought too) working part-time would be the solution. But that perfect world doesn’t exist, at least for us it doesn’t.

What I can continue to do is do the best I can — the best I can to savor every moment I have with my little guy (and soon to be little guys) and the best I can to push those feelings of guilt aside confident that I’m doing just that — my best.

Do you deal with mommy (or daddy) guilt? How do you counteract the at times crippling feelings that it can bring on?

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