Mom guilt is the most intense guilty feeling I’ve ever experienced. What am I talking about? Mom guilt is feeling like you’re not spending enough time with your children, feeling like you’re abandoning them when you’re going to work, the gym, the grocery store, or anywhere else without them, and constantly questioning your parenting. Mommy guilt also stems from trivial, everyday things such as: your body not making enough breastmilk for your babies, forgetting today was Pajama Day at school, not making your kids favorite dinner because you were too busy, or crying because you’ve scolded them when they’ve done something naughty. This terrible form of guilt is experienced by both parents, and comes in all different shapes and forms. However, it is real and can be so heavy on our mental health.
When I awake in the morning, I make Anaís a bottle and then breakfast, I clean, cook, do laundry, do homework, try to squeeze a workout in, and have mommy daughter time with her. Later on, I go to work, come home and it’s time for a bath and stories. I always feel guilty when I leave her and go to work, I feel almost as if I’m neglecting her and being a bad parent. But, I will also feel lousy if I don’t go to work because I want to have more money to spend on her. There are days when I feel bad because storytime is cut short because mommy has other things to do. I feel like I’m stuck in an endless routine of berating myself and my parenting. It makes me numb. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother and all that comes with it but I’m tired of beating myself up for doing too much or not doing enough.
I immerse myself into motherhood. The day we found out we were pregnant with Anaís, I made my whole world revolve around her. I took a few semesters off from school, I quit my job, and I stayed home with her until she was 13 months old. I didn’t go out as often with my friends, or my husband, I took her everywhere, and didn’t leave her side. I didn’t know how to be without her and I didn’t want to be. I couldn’t find a balance between “Anaís and mommy time,” “mommy and daddy time,” and “just mommy time.” If you’re a parent, you know all too well what I am talking about.
My husband recently surprised me with a honeymoon trip. It’s during December of 2018. The vacation is one week long and we aren’t taking our daughter. I broke down in tears and begged him to bring her with us. I know what you’re thinking, “why are you crying?” Because I have never spent more than one night away from my daughter since I gave birth to her. I carried her for nine months and still carry her around everywhere we go. It’s hard being apart.
” I didn’t know how to be without her and I didn’t want to be.”
Hubby and I sat down and discussed the pros and cons of bringing our daughter on our honeymoon. The list of cons outweighed the pros. Now, before you judge me, being a parent of a toddler isn’t easy. Especially a toddler that isn’t potty trained. Like many other babies her age, Anaís has meltdowns, she needs two naps a day, she gets tired and cranky, she’ll only eat certain things, her bedtime is her bedtime and there’s no changing it. Also, there are the necessities we’ll need to travel with such as a diaper bag filled with milk, wipes, diapers, at least three sets of changing clothes, toys, books, sunblock, swimsuits, sun shirts, snacks, and medication (if she gets sick) oh and we’ll also need to carry her car seat everywhere we go. This all makes taking a vacation with her difficult. Again, I know what you’re thinking, “it can be done though, I know tons of families who have taken their babies, and toddlers with them on vacation.” The thing is, not all families are the same. Most of these families had help of some kind, and the trip were going on doesn’t offer babysitting because she isn’t 2 years old. We want to go on a vacation. If we take her we’ll just be equally stressed out there as we are at home. We need a break. I cringed a little writing that sentence.
When Jay and I got married in June of 2017, we didn’t have a honeymoon. We celebrated, but not in a big way. Anaís was only a few months old when we tied the knot and we wanted to spend time with her. Also, hubby was leaving for Japan shortly after. Gotta love the Army wife life.
We both work so hard, go to school, take care of our daughter, and work our life around the Army. It takes a toll. I’m so focused on being the best mother that I can, I didn’t realize I put our marriage on the back burner. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are in a happy, healthy, loving relationship, but it wouldn’t hurt me to give him more attention. After all, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have our beautiful daughter. When we’re together all I can think about is “What is Anaís doing right now? Is she ok? Do you think she misses us?” And I’ll immediately FaceTime her. This all adds onto my guilt. I shouldn’t feel this way, is this normal? To feel like I’m spending too much time with my daughter but it’s still not enough? To constantly think about my daughter even when I’m with my husband?
I’m embracing my mom guilt. No matter how hard I try I will always feel guilty about something. Growing up, I had a strong guilty conscience, so I didn’t do many naughty things. This carried on into adulthood and now motherhood. I have come to the conclusion that this is who I am, and guilt is not a shameful trait. It’s a burden at times but I should embrace and reflect on it, rather than neglect my feelings. However, I need to find a happy medium. I need to learn how to balance motherhood, work, school, marriage, and me time, all without drowning myself in guilty thoughts.
I decided to go on our honeymoon trip with my husband, just the two of us. After all, it is a honeymoon. He put so much thought, time, and money into it, I couldn’t say no. He did this for us. We’ve been through so much in the short amount of time that we’ve been together. Jay and I deserve some freedom and a few child-free nights, to let loose, have fun, and celebrate our love.
I know I will be judged for going on a vacation without my daughter. It could be my mom guilt speaking, but I’m going to accept it. No one is perfect and every parent deserves a few child-free nights to collect their sanity. My best friend told me something that resonated with me, “with everything that’s going on y’all need that time to recharge and reconnect. It’s not selfish to take time for your marriage because her family unit is built on your marriage.” She’s right, and she helped clear my mind even more. Anaís is here because of my relationship with her father, I can’t neglect that relationship now because she’s here. I want Anaís to grow up in a healthy, loving environment. I want her to see her parents in a healthy, loving relationship. After all, children do what we do, not what we say, having grown up in a toxic environment makes me want to do better.
I’m going for it! Jay and I are going on our honeymoon in December and I’m beyond ecstatic! I have never been on a plane, or traveled further than Boston, and I live in Connecticut — hahah. I know my guilt will haunt me on the days leading up to our trip and the whole time we’re gone, but I love my husband and I need to find a happy medium. This is my start.
A mom embracing her guilt.