For the past few months, my husband has been motivating and pushing me to rejoin the workforce, so much so he even offered to hire me at his firm. Me being me kept saying I’m not ready.
Truth be told, I have an extreme case of ‘Mom Guilt’. This is a unique kind of guilt that only, usually new moms feel; constantly worrying about making blunders and wanting to make everything perfect, making it completely unattainable.
The thing is I want to go back to work, I want to go to an office, drink crappy tea and submerge myself in work so I don’t have to worry about laundry or dirty dishes till I get home. I miss the adrenalin of meeting deadlines. However, personally, I can’t, I feel guilty for leaving my 5-month-old even though I know he’s in excellent care and supervision. I cannot, because my heart does not feel strong enough to let my baby go, so I can be 20 km away and work, even though it would be to provide him a better life.
This ambivalence of not being able to be there for my child stressed me or, I feel like I will miss monumental moments of his childhood; his first words, his first time trying new foods, his first turnover, etc.
Everyone I know keeps saying its normal, but no one has so far provided solutions for this mom guilt, or even how to manage it.
Social media and within the community, woman are expected to ‘take care’ of themselves post-partum. Lose the weight, grow your hair, fight off the depression, and be all smiles. This unfair expectation and burden just adds on to the mom guilt, as it further leads to wife guilt, as I like to call it.
For me wife guilt is when a post-partum mom isn’t able to feel attractive enough for her husband, primary because she’s shedding practically her whole head off, she’s not getting time to take care of herself as she previously could, or because she feels like that time could be spent with her baby instead of doing something selfish.
Either the guilt, it makes one feel very lonely, sad and just destitute.
Enough society says, ‘it is okay to ask for help’, society also shames you for asking for help. Sick and cannot take care of your baby? Asking for help but also being shamed because ‘back in my day/I have X kids and I did it all by myself’… There clearly is shame in asking for help. The fact of the matter is that mom’s guilt shows up in ways you would never expect. It comes in the form of low self-worth, anxiety, and depression. It can also take shape in negative coping strategies such as eating your feelings away, or not, using too much of your phone, going shopping, staying in your PJs all day, and not wanting to move. It can also be trying to do it all and end up burning yourself out, especially if you are putting unrealistic and unconquerable pressure on yourself to be a good mom, wife, daughter, friend, employee/employer, etc.
Being a mom is a 24/7/365 day job and it is mentally, physically and spiritually taxing, but it is one of the most gratifying jobs out there. But, mom guilt or wife guilt, whatever it is feels like absolute dirt, hopefully you’ll be able to find someone, if not a group that can help you and not judge you for feeling the way you do, when you do, let me know.