We've all been there, mamas…
You're on a flight for a three-day business conference when it hits you:
- You, my friend, are going to get a full night's sleep without haggling over an extra 30 minutes before bed with your five-year old.
- You get to eat at a fancy-schmancy restaurant (or a greasy spoon) and you get to enjoy the whole meal without breaking up an argument between your offspring.
- You might even – dare I say it? - get to use the toilet without seeing tiny fingers waggling under the door as your three-year-old pleads “Mommyyyyy! Are you iiiiiiin there? Let me innnnnnnnnn! I neeeeeeeeed to beeeeee by yoooooou!”
Or maybe you're en route to an out-of-town meeting via Amtrak ready for a glorious 90 minutes of uninterrupted work time (the latest novel? Blissfully staring blankly out the window? The possibilities are endless)!!
If you're like most of us, at some point, you also feel something else: the dreaded MOMMY GUILT. Guilt that you're not with your kids. Guilt that you've hired a nanny for your babes or that they're in daycare. Or - and this isn't as uncommon as you think (else I wouldn't be writing about it) - you might even feel what's known as reverse mommy guilt: you're convinced you should feel bad about being away but you don't...and you feel guilty that you don't feel sad. We're moms. We tend to think we should be all things to everyone (or at least to our families) all the time. We put incredible pressure on ourselves, thinking we should always want to spend every non-working, non-sleeping moment with our children. And – hear me out – we tend to lay that guilt trip on other mamas, too. But let me tell you something: mommy guilt is completely unnecessary. Don't do it to yourself. Don't let others do it to you. Do not - I repeat, do NOT - buy into whatever negativity you're hearing – whether it's from your mommy group, your in-laws, your great aunt Margaret, or you read it in an article online. Don't let anyone (or any social media "look how together my life is" photo) make you think for even a nanosecond that everyone's managing this thing called “motherhood” better than you are. Because they aren't. As a mom of five and devoted professional nanny, I promise nobody's doing it any better than you are.
Guess what! It's completely okay to enjoy having time to yourself, whether we're talking about going to work with other grown ups, getting your nails done, or lunch with your besties.
Guess what else! It's also completely okay to not feel guilty about it! You worked hard to build your reputation at work. You have every right not to feel guilty about continuing to focus on your career! Your gym time has become a way of life. There's absolutely no reason to feel bad about continuing to go to your spin classes or your running group. None. And get this: it is perfectly okay to hire a babysitter so you and your partner can have a night out…..followed by a trip to a hotel for some uninterrupted intimate time without guilt. Or to get a massage. Or just go for a walk. By yourself.
You have no need to feel guilty if you take some time for yourself and you have no need to feel guilty about not feeling bad! Please enjoy your personal time – it makes us happier and, to be honest, I believe with all my heart that, when we take care of ourselves and allow ourselves to do things that make us happy, it makes us better moms (I haven't done any research, though; that's just my personal opinion so take it for what it's worth).
Honestly, the best advice I can give you, old mom to new, is this: be aware of your emotions and be aware that it's okay to feel what you're feeling. And then? Let it go. Enjoy your conference. Enjoy your uninterrupted work. Enjoy your workout. Or your glass of wine. Don't let mommy guilt take over. You deserve to be good to yourself and you'll be teaching your kids to be good to themselves as they grow, too. See? Everybody wins!
PS - if you've ever wondered what it would be like if men worried like we do, be sure to follow Man Who Has It All on Twitter - insightful AND hilarious!
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