Mom Guilt is Weird.

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last night we spent our first night away from atlas, together! my husband has been away from her quite a few nights because of traveling for work. i have been away from her one night back in december when i got super sick and he was out of town. my in-laws thankfully took her so i could sleep.

we had a great time staying downtown and we reminisced about how this is our TENTH valentine’s day together! crazy.

my first night away from atlas back in december (and our 4th night in our new house) evoked quite a few strong emotions in me. initially, i was very resistant for my in-laws to take her for a few reasons. the first – i felt like i should be able to still mother while dealing with sickness. most women aren’t so lucky to have family that would be willing to take her so i felt like i should keep her and just power through. i also felt guilty that they would have to get up with her 2-3 times a night (she still has yet to sleep all the way through the night).

my mother-in-law finally convinced me that it was the right move – thankfully i never worry if atlas is well-taken care of because they are fantastic.

after i buckled her in her car seat, all while wearing my super sexy mask to prevent the spread of my illness, i crawled into bed (aka our mattress on the floor at that point) and listened to the quiet house.

i was overwhelmed with guilt once again that i wasn’t taking care of my daughter. i felt guilty for enjoying the quiet. i felt guilty for taking a long, hot shower. i felt guilty for mindlessly zoning out on netflix as my heavy-duty cold medicine kicked in.

thankfully i have a great mom friend jessica, who is also a business owner, working mom and never hesitates to keep it real. i texted her and told her of this strange guilt that i couldn’t shake. she responded along the lines of “oh my goooodness – enjoy that quiet. enjoy that shower. enjoy time to recuperate so that you can be a better person all around. i would jump on a chance to have a night to myself!”

as much as i try hard not to need outside reassurance and validation from others, it seems as though i need that during my “beginner’s motherhood” and that is okay. it is becoming clearer each day to me that in order to be the type of woman/partner/mom/person that i want to be, i do have to take care of me. that’s so much easier said than done especially when you throw a being into the mix that you literally have to do everything for.

i am finding this new kinship with other women that i was never a part of before. a lot of that consists of us saying “omg. me too! it’s hard…” it is reassuring to know that other women struggle with this stupid “mom-guilt” and wondering if we are making the right decisions.

last night, as my husband and i sat at dinner i got so wrapped up in laughing with him that i kinda forgot we had a kid for a minute. i felt guilty that she wasn’t on my mind constantly. later, as we were laying in the most luxurious hotel bed, i realized that i didn’t feel guilty for spending the night without her, like i did the first time i was sick. then, get this – i felt guilty about not feeling guilty. what is this new weird world of mom-guilt?! i don’t like it.

parents reading this – how do you deal with this weird guilt? if you aren’t a parent, have you ever felt this and what did you do about it?

…and if you are into valentine’s day – hope it was grand! if you wanted it to be more, then you have to talk about expectations. anyway – off to go buy 75% off chocolate for myself!

28 Comments

  1. Elyse @ JustMurrayed

    February 15, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Obviously I’m not a parent but I’ve definitely had that guilty feeling because I didn’t feel guilty when I didn’t do something I thought I should. Honestly though, I think that no matter what we do whether you stayed home or went out you’re going to feel guilty. I would just let yourself feel those emotions but don’t dwell on them and move on.

    • chelsea

      February 16, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      good point elyse! it goes back to mindfulness, letting those feelings be but not necessarily engaging with them. thank you for that reminder that i had forgotten 🙂

      • Danielle Stapleton

        February 21, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        +1 for Mindfullness! Been working on this a lot lately. Trying not to judge myself for having feelings that are completely normal. But I feel the “guilty for not feeling guilty” thing… and I’m already struggling with a WEEK LONG trip coming in June where Tim and I will leave both kids with my dad. Seriously get anxiety thinking about it already…

        • chelsea

          February 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm

          oh wow week long trip coming up! how amazing sounds and yes anxiety provoking too, danielle! that mindfullness can go a long way – i am starting back up on meditating daily and i think it’s helping!

  2. Jennifer Haston

    February 15, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Oh my God, me too! Hang in there, mama! I feel like it’s a sick cycle we are all in, trying not to feel guilty and then feeling guilty about not feeling guilty, just this morning, I have the day off from work today and fed the baby and
    then slept a little while she slept and then when she woke up and was fussy, I (feeling guilty) asked him to take her because I needed a break. He took her and I felt better. I think the key is to recognize the feeling and say, “I reject this guilt I am putting on myself” I love me, and taking care of me is making me more able to take care of my husband and my child. I hope it gets better, I am definitely feeling it less.

    • chelsea

      February 16, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      it totally is – that damn cycle! you hang in there too. right you are that we have to recognize the feeling. i like what you said about saying “i reject this guilt” perhaps i shall try that. thank you!

  3. Audrey

    February 15, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Feeling that senseless, unfounded guilt is the worst. I have a terrible time when we prepare travel because I know the dogs will stress. Then, after we’ve been away for a day or 2 K will ask if I’ve talked with the dog sitter and I feel TERRIBLE because I’d forgotten to check in on the dogs. (Although our dog sitter keeps me updated and never cares if I don’t text.) Anyway, dogs and babies are super different, but I totally get the guilty feelings from all angles.
    You’re doing great, by the way!
    Audrey recently posted…What I Read… vol. 2

    • chelsea

      February 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      oh i remember the dog guilt too – we totally did/do that while travevling. it’s almost like sugar will know we weren’t thinking of her always. guilt from all angles is hard – thanks for sharing that piece of it too audrey! also – you’re doing great too 🙂

  4. Christina @ Hugs and Lattes

    February 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    I’m not a mom (that I know of) but I definitely feel guilty for a whole host of reasons that never make much sense. And then those days I don’t feel guilty, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.
    Christina @ Hugs and Lattes recently posted…Publishing for Yourself

    • chelsea

      February 16, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      bhaha you cracked me up christina with “not that i know of” haaaa. you funny. we at least we know we aren’t the only ones feeling this.

  5. Vivien

    February 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Not a mom either, but I believe in one phrase: it takes a village to raise a child. Somehow we’re forgetting the role of other adult figures of past generations, and/or we are placing crazy pressure on parents to do everything alone. I don’t think we should forget aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbours that take turns keeping an eye out for all the kids in the community so parents can get errands/meetings done or (gasp) take a breather!

    Do I think you should feel guilty? Absolutely not. Do I think it’s normal for you to feel so? I think it is normal…sign of being a great parent, imo.
    Vivien recently posted…Almost a Champ Again

    • chelsea

      February 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      i think i might need a huge sign that says that vivien. truly. you are SO right that indeed that is how families used to be – all together under one roof – helping the young and helping the old. while i do love my personal space, i think we could all highly benefit from that form of living again. i want her to be raised by a village because i have a great village. thank you for this – a lot!

  6. brittany

    February 15, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    So.. I am not a mom but I have noticed I feel guilty about work. Specifically, when I was working on my Ph.D. It is common in my field that we should always be writing (a manuscript, a grant..etc) or running experiments. When I was just starting I was running many experiments and would work literally around the clock to get things done. I would feel guilty if I put something off or asked for help. Later on as I was finishing up, I felt guilty when I wasn’t writing my dissertation or a paper or working on a grant for my new postdoc! I too noticed this really messed with me taking care of myself. When things get busy, I don’t sleep well, I don’t work out because I should be writing.. I miss lunches because I am busy running experiments (otherwise I should feel guilty if it wasn’t done) and forget.. I binge eat dinner because I missed lunch… and so on etc. But all this really did was create a cycle of guilt because when I do have time to relax I am worried about things I can be doing for work and don’t feel truly relaxed, but then when I have work to do I am tired and unfocused cause I never really had a break. I have realized, probably later than I should have, that this is not healthy. Now that I am somewhat settled in my new job, grant is in (yes!) and am aware of my terrible habits that it is time to make time for me. I have to make a conscious effort to do things like eat lunch and work out and reassure its fine to take the time to do this instead of X,Y or Z because that will still be there and its not an emergency (as long as its not one). I think it is completely normal to feel guilty but unhealthy to let it dictate your life. This is something I am still working on.

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      thanks so much for sharing that aspect when you were working on your ph D, brittany! since it’s a world completely different than mine – i never considered the expectation of always “needing” to be writing or running experiments. that sounds exhausting. it sounds like a tough thing for sure but you’re right – it comes down to self care and that’s an issue when that goes to the back burner.

      so happy to hear you are making a big effort to take those lunches, workout and take time for yourself!

  7. Sheila

    February 15, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    I have a 12 and 14-year old and quite a few years of mom-guilt. Yup, it’s a bit weird, but I like to think of emotions as guides. When I feel guilty, I feel it’s a sign to tune in to why I’m feeling that way and work toward addressing it. It’s an inside job asking me to check in with my values. Am I on track? Am I doing what’s right for me? When I’m feeling guilty about feeling guilty, that’s pressure from the outside, concern about judgement and how I “should” feel, what I “should” be doing, cultural conditioning, what will people think, etc. Which leads me back to the inside and trying to figure out what I feel and why and what I want to do about it. It’s a process. And the first part of changing anything is becoming aware … so I think you’re on the right track!

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      great point about tuning into “why” we are feeling a certain way, thanks for the sheila. i think a lot of mine comes into what i think others *think*i should be doing with my time. that’s not where my mind or energy needs to be so thanks for that reminder!

  8. Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}

    February 15, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    Ugh mom guilt is the worst. I get it all the time. I felt guilty the other day when I went and got a haircut and my mom watched Leighton.
    Courtney {Alkeks Abroad} recently posted…Leighton {Six Months}

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      ugh it’s so dumb but it’s real. i mean – getting a haircut should be a relaxing and self=pampering time but i know when i do things like that – i find myself rushing to get back (for no good reason). thanks for the solidarity comment courtney

  9. chelsea jacobs

    February 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

    PREACH. I don’t know that I’ll ever know how to deal with this. It’s such a weird thing.
    chelsea jacobs recently posted…Work Hard & Be Nice to People.

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      i hope it gets better for us – let me know if you ever have an epiphany chelsea!

  10. Penny

    February 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    You are a great mom. I am sure all this will get easier as time goes by. You are blessed to have family that will step in to help. Be thankful for that. Enjoy your time with your husband while you can get it and it will all work out.

  11. Penny

    February 16, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I meant to also say that guilt is from something that you have done that was wrong. But you have done nothing wrong and so while you may feel guilty from time to time just remember you are doing the absolute best you can. Try not to feel guilty you are taking care of Atlas, you are taking care of yourself and you are taking care of your husband and your marriage. What else can you do. Nothing!!!!

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 1:57 pm

      right you are – thank you for that reminder penny!

  12. Amberly

    February 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

    I totally get the mom guilt thing! I feel it every time Emmy reaches a milestone while I’m not around. I had it BAD a year ago when I was so engulfed in school and pregnancy sickness and wasn’t getting to spend much time with Bensen or feel like his mom most days. We’re going to get to a point where they’ll be older and more independent and we’ll be spending less time caring for them. I always remind myself that I need to keep me throughout all of it so that when I get to that point, I can embrace more of the me and us moments rather than having to rediscover and adjust to having more time.
    Amberly recently posted…Stuck on You Date Night from Crated with Love

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      love what you said about needing to keep the “me” throughout all of these phases so that we still exist once they do become more independent. that really resonated with me – thank you for that amberly!

  13. Marilyn Jess

    February 20, 2017 at 4:55 am

    While I have not been a Mom, I find it so interesting when people use the word Guilt to describe this experience. Even more interesting is the term Mom Guilt. A talk show host I sometimes listen to, a psychologist, helps people reframe what they think is guilt by defining it. It’s the best explanation I’ve ever heard. I found a definition which I think will prove helpful to you, Chelsea. Guilt is defined as “the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.”

    You neither committed an offense or a crime when you took time for self care. Longing, loss, missing your daughter–all those could be true feelings you had. In life, I reserve guilt for truly deliberate acts we commit, knowing or not caring about the consequences. Please, don’t let anyone, including our culture, to allow you to feel guilt over self care. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d banish the term Mom guilt from our vocabulary. How about replacing it with Gratitude for such supportive family and friends?

    • chelsea

      February 22, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      thanks for this thoughtful comment, marilyn! i like that definition of guilt because it will help me evaluate that usually – i have not committed a crime or an offense (like you said). right you are not to let society tell me otherwise that caring for myself results in this (and that is where most of it comes from when i really think about it). thanks for this because i am indeed grateful for my supportive family and friends (like you)

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