While I absolutely love being home with Charlotte. There’s another thing I love, and that’s work. I recently took on a contract position as a Trainer with FuelEd Schools. FuelEd is non-profit agency that’s mission is to fuel schools with the power of relationships. Since having Charlotte, I kept open my Private Practice, and continued to see clients on the weekends and run groups some evenings. I hadn’t been gone from her during the days much for the last 14 months.
This past week was the longest time I've spent away from her since she's been born. I was a little anxious when I left wondering how I’d feel, but for the most part I felt excited. My Mother-in-law was coming in to take care of Charlotte so I knew she’d be happy and safe. I was excited for the work, and the learning experience. While I was away, I kept waiting for a feeling of guilt to hit. I never felt it. I first thought “what’s wrong with me?” until I snapped myself out of it, and realized I do not need to feel guilty to prove my love for Charlotte. Let me say that one more time. I do not need to feel guilty to prove my love for Charlotte.
I feel like this term “Mom Guilt” gets thrown around a lot almost as a badge of honor or even without us taking a moment to really think about what it means. I am so guilty of this! (there it is again!) Sometimes I will catch myself saying “I feel guilty” when I don’t. Why? Because I’m trying to prove to the other person that I love my child. Does that make sense? No! I do not need to fake a feeling to prove my love. I also shouldn’t feel like I’m doing something wrong if I love what I do. Guilt means we are responsible for a specific wrongdoing. When you are away from your kids for a period of time, it is not wrong. When you work, or go on a date with your spouse, get a manicure, work out, or hang with friends, you aren’t doing anything wrong! You are taking care of yourself, which makes you a better Mom when you return.
When we feel guilty for choices we make, we pass that feeling off to our children. We are telling them we aren’t confident in the decisions we are making. This makes our children feel unsafe and fearful for us. If we instead, say, “I’m going to work to help people, and I love what I do and when I come home I get to eat and play with you and hear all about your day!” We start to create a new script around work, our feelings, and our confidence in decision-making. We are teaching them about our talents, and things we love. We are setting an example for them to make decisions free of guilt when they grow up.
Now, of course I say all of this and I know I am not immune to the feeling of guilt. I grew up learning that if you don’t feel guilty, or are worried about something, it means you don’t care. I know now that is not true. There are definitely still times where I’ve felt guilty and I know there will be times I feel it again. However, I feel proud this past week I didn’t feel guilty, and was able to return a happy and fulfilled Mom. Now, I'm returning filled up and excited to be back home with Charlotte. I don’t ever want Charlotte growing up feeling guilty for her choices, or feeling as if she has to feel guilty to show she cares. I want her to be proud of the things she loves and the things that light her up. It might be raising her kids at home full time, it might be working outside the home, it might be a mixture of both, and any of those choices are OK. I want her to feel confident that she can make those decisions guilt-free.
I would also like to add that I don’t often tell anyone to not feel something. All of your feelings are valid and you are not alone in them. I would encourage you to reach out to someone if you are experiencing a huge sense of guilt. If it is something that you are struggling with and would like someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to contact me, or reach out for referrals.
Finally, I’d love to hear from you all, what it is that you love to do outside of being a Mother?