I find myself constantly asking other mamas about their experiences with motherhood to try and glean tips or just to know I’m not alone. Although our kids can be completely different and our experiences varied, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this motherhood journey. I recently had to go back to work after maternity leave. Returning to work can be super nerve wracking–especially the first time. Is the end of your maternity leave coming up? Did you just go back?
I had so much mom guilt going back to work both after both my first and second daughters were born. It wasn’t for the reason you might think, though. Rather than feeling dread at the thought of leaving my babies, I was excited and ready to go back! But it seemed like I was the only mom who had ever felt this way. When I saw other mamas crying as they dropped their kids off at daycare, I felt like crap. Why am I not crying? Do I not love my kids as much as other moms? I wondered what was wrong with me. People would ask if I was ready to go back, if I was nervous, if I was going to have a hard time, if I planned to keep working for much longer; and I would feel guilty when I DIDN’T respond that I was miserable at the thought of going back to work. Because I was thrilled about going back! Why was I so different? I wondered, am I not a good mom? Are my kids not going to love me as much? Will my babies not bond with me? I felt pressure to feel feelings I just wasn’t feeling. Did anyone else feel like this??
One of the ways I was able to get over this guilt was thinking about my husband. I have never thought that my husband loves my kids less than me, or that he’s less of a dad than I am a mom, or that my kids don’t love him (they are daddy’s girls) just because he works more than me. I knew the same was true for me. I LOVE my kids more than anything in the world, and just because I wasn’t reacting like other mamas did not mean I loved them any less.
Another way I was able to move past the going-back-to-work guilt was to try and not compare myself to other mothers. I feel at times moms are all lumped into a blanket mom category. When we don’t fit into the “perfect” mom mold, we feel like we are falling short. It’s different from feeling like we fall short looks-wise or travel-wise, because we feel like we are falling short of what our kids deserve, and that is ten times worse.
In reality there is not one way to mother, and there is no such thing as a perfect mother. Sorry. We are all doing our best, and because I have certain personality traits, I’m not going to feel miserable going back to work and that’s what helps me be a rockin’ mom when I’m home with my girls. For someone else, missing their kids when they’re away from them reminds them how much they love them. For others, going to work is just out of the question, or they tried it and it wasn’t for them. That’s wonderful. Our differences are what makes the world go round, and our babes will thrive most when their mamas are thriving.
In other words, if you’re going back to work—you’ve got this! The unknown of leaving your baby with someone else can be scary, but you’re brave and did your research to make sure they’ll take good care of your precious babe. Don’t feel guilty for leaving your kids to go back to work, and don’t feel guilty for not feeling guilty. You will find your groove and routine and your family’s dynamic will fall into place.