Honest Mom Series :: The Truth About Mom Guilt

Collin County Moms Blog is thrilled to present “Honest Moms,” a series on authentic, vulnerable looks at motherhood, and life in general: the good, the bad, and the ugly—what we love, what we struggle with, and what we are working through, all as a way to connect with YOU. We want to know what you’re going through, what encourages you, what helps in the times of confusion, chaos, and solitude. We are all in this together, and our community is a strong one that seeks to lift others up. Check back each Thursday for a new Honest Moms post.When I was pregnant with my first child, I had reached a high point in my career. I was proud of it and enjoyed my job. I planned to return to work after the baby, but started to have yearnings for a break. Was it just the exhaustion from pregnancy? I wasn’t sure, but I started to struggle with the possible course of my life after I had the baby. At the same time, my husband was recruited by another company and the job happened to be back home where we grew up. We were excited about the prospect of going back to family with our first child, but it also meant I would definitely have to leave my job. It was a whirlwind after I had my daughter. My husband accepted the new job, I gave my two-weeks-notice, and I was on a plane with my three month old daughter, headed home. I was excited about this new adventure and finding a new home for us. 

During the rush to leave my job, and a place where I had loved to live, I wasn’t able to grieve the loss of them.  I found myself quickly immersed in the daily routine of being a stay-at-home mom and it was difficult to see past diapers, breastfeeding, and sleepless nights with a crying baby. I absolutely loved being a mother, but felt disconnected from who I used to be and didn’t know exactly who I was becoming. I wasn’t sure if I had what it took to be a stay-at-home mom, or if I was going to eventually return to work. I enjoyed having the flexibility to go to doctor appointments for my daughter in the middle of the day, and take naps whenever she finally fell asleep. It was nice to make dinner and have it ready at a decent time when my husband came home from work. I loved that I didn’t have to be anywhere in the mornings dressed and ready to perform. Each day was different.

But after a year of this new life, I started to feel like I wasn’t enough for my daughter. And that’s when I felt mom guilt for the first time. I felt horrible that I couldn’t give her everything that she needed. I lacked the creativity to think of new activities as she was able to to do more things, and I started to feel more isolated even though we had play dates with friends. And I felt my corporate skills slipping away. The sadness of leaving my old job and moving back home was catching up with me.

I eventually returned to work when my daughter was 18 months old. I felt more comfortable with her in daycare at this point, but again I felt the sadness of leaving behind something special that I would never get back. And mom guilt reared its ugly head again. I felt like I was leaving my daughter and making her feel unnecessary pain as she cried (Every. Single. Day. for TWO months, thank you very much) at drop off to daycare. I felt anguish over changing our routine, but also knew this was a good opportunity for us to become more independent. I mean, that’s the job of a mother! To raise your child to be self-sufficient, right? There was still heartbreak and tears, but we made it through, and we were better for it. I was able to return to work and revive my job skills, and my daughter was able to develop better socially and cognitively.

If you’re ever feeling mom guilt, whatever stage or season of life you’re in, it’s a completely normal emotion. I think it’s ingrained in us for a purpose—it’s the basic nature of being a mother. We need that mom guilt to help guide us to be the best mothers we can be. It helps us to take a step back and make sure we’re doing the right thing. Sometimes the right thing can cause heartache, but ultimately it helps us and our child grow. If you are feeling mom guilt, talk to someone; don’t keep it to yourself. Call a mom friend, your therapist (I wish we all had one on standby!), or go to a support group. The healthiest thing you can do is understand it better, because in the end, you can use it to make positive changes in your life.

Taylor Arriola
Taylor was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she met her husband James. They lived in Arizona and California, and recently moved back to live in West Plano. They have a 4 year old daughter and 1 year old son. Taylor was a stay-at-home mother for over a year and then returned to work as a licensed counselor in the mental and behavioral health field. She enjoys yoga, exploring the parks and nature preserves in the area, and eating Mexican food!