Moms Who Feel Guilty Now Will Be Grateful Later

mom holding baby footI don't get out much with my husband. We take turns going out, so the other one is home with the kids. We don't go out much. Unless you count once every two months a lot. Sound familiar? Especially if you are a working parent -- oh the guilt. And the guilt is even stronger if instead of going home after a long day so you can tuck your kids in and read seven bedtime stories, you go out to dinner with other adults or do anything of the adult variety. Often, in your mind, the working all day paired with the going out is enough to make you the worst mom that ever existed. How dare you have a life beyond motherhood?

And then, correct me if I'm wrong here, if you do manage that once every two months outing without your kids, your heart aches and you wish you were home tucking them in and reading them eight bedtime stories. I think mom guilt is like a magnetic pull, the bond between mother and child, keeping us with our babies while they still want us around.


Sometimes our partners get it, sometimes they don't (though it's better when they too are inflicted so you don't have the wife guilt, too) ... like this mom who recently posted on one of my local boards.

Her husband wanted to get away for a weekend -- just the two of them -- and leave their 10-week-old twins with the grandparents. The mom was conflicted -- she wanted to go, but she said her heart was racing just thinking about leaving them. Her husband was making her feel guilty for not wanting to go. Double the guilt; double the agita! I really felt for this mom. It made me remember the first time I had to leave my own twins overnight, though it was for a work trip and my kids were 14 months old. So a very different story. But it pained me. I remember waking up in the hotel room in the middle of the night thinking I heard my son calling out to me. It felt weird. I felt alone. Like something was missing.

One mom told the conflicted mom to take advantage of every opportunity to get away now while they are infants because it gets harder as they get older.

I suppose it does. Now that my kids talk and say "Mama don't leave" or cry as I put on my coat, it does hurt more. But it also hurts differently. When my kids were infants, I felt like no one knew how to take care of them as good as I did. Now that they are older, it's like they are tougher, not fragile newborns. So easier but still hard.

Some of the other parents on the board chimed in saying the guilt wears off the moment you get on the plane or in the car. Others felt the babies wouldn't know the difference, and if you could leave them with someone you trust, they you should go and enjoy yourself and time with your husband. One person reminded her that missing your kids isn't a bad thing. But I still think mom has to be ready; she has to be fully prepared to leave her baby (or babies). If we aren't ready to leave them with someone else for an overnight trip, we could end up sabotaging any fun that could be had. And that could end up disastrous ... and even a big blow-up with the hubby.

A lot of times what ends up happening is even when you put that mom guilt aside and you do get out with your partner -- for a few days or a few hours -- you end up talking about your kids the whole time anyway. I remember going out to dinner for the first time, we timed it just right so our friend came to watch them just as they began a nap. We went to a restaurant a couple of blocks away, got in our order immediately, ate faster than we ever had, and talked about how adorable our kids were before we rushed home to them.

There's no subject more riveting than your own kids when they are babies.

Maybe it goes away over time; maybe when they become teenagers and push us away to do their own thing, we end up longing for them even more; rehashing even more stories about when they were crawling and said their first words and really needed us -- really needed our hugs, our milk, our rocking in the chair and our lullabies. Maybe that's why we hang on to every moment we have with our kids when they are little. And it's the mommy guilt that keeps us glued to them so we get it all in when we can before they are grown.

It's been said that mommy guilt can be a pointless emotion and we do need to stop making ourselves feel terrible when we do something for ourselves. If only we knew how.

How did you feel the first time you left your child? Do you often feel mom guilt, too?


Image via LisaW123/Flickr

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