I had heard about mom guilt. My first encounter with it was interviewing for a nanny job at the age of 22 where I tried to empathize with the mom as a young adult, and not an ounce of mom experience. I had no grasp of the weight of what she was saying until I too became a mom and my guilt started dragging me down.
As a stay at home mom, I certainly may not experience mom guilt in the working-mom sense brought on by the fear of missing milestones, not being able to kiss every boo-boo, or missing the tickles and giggles that fill each day but I have guilt and it comes from a very different place. As a stay at home mom, I am lonely, anxious, and well…bored. The daily anxiety of needing to do more, contribute more, and feel important fills my mind. Trust me, I know what you are thinking! Being a mom and raising good humans is beyond important and totally checks all the above-mentioned criteria. But knowing this does not take away the monotony of the job. So, I feel guilty as hell! I am a child specialist for crying out loud, so what gives?
Before I had kids, I had a prestigious job of running private early education facilities and loved it. I worked hard to put myself through college and grad school while being a full-time teacher’s assistant and then climbed the ladder to Director. It made me feel important and the continuous dialogue with colleagues and peers was mentally stimulating.
So when I embarked on the motherhood journey, I found it exciting and all-encompassing, and I jumped in with both feet the minute my baby was a ball of cells in my womb. My old life, as I knew it, was a distant memory. This continued for a while, but slowly the anxiety coupled with the monotony of the day-to-day began to buzz in my mind like a trapped summer fly in the house. Every day was the same: waking up, making breakfast, packing lunch, school drop off, park times, play dates, snacks, cleaning up, storytimes, building Legos, playing dolls, cooking dinner. The list went on and on of a never-ending schedule and constantly diffusing tantrums. The thoughts of wanting to leave my house, brainstorm with like-minded people, and yearning to be involved in something exciting crept in, and then the guilt began to build.
A terrible feeling of mom guilt sat with me like acid reflux after a fast-food binge. I felt guilty for wanting more. I felt guilty looking for jobs and going on interviews, to only talk myself out of actually taking positions when it came time to assess the childcare logistics; which in turn made me feel even more trapped.
Then one day, after some heavy in-and-exhales, I decided to give myself a mental break. The realization that I can love my kids just as much as a stay at home mom and still have a life outside of them was freeing. Wanting more is okay. Going back to work is okay. Utilizing some of the “ it takes a village” we desperately need to raise our kids is okay.
To all the stay at home moms, who are struggling with staying at home, I get it. You are not alone. We all know that you love your children. We all know you are grateful for your children. We all know there is nothing you love more than your children. With all that, we also know to stay at home is isolating and lonely, so it’s okay if at some point you are ready to do something that isn’t staying at home with the kids.