Last night my husband and I had dinner with a very successful entrepreneur and her boyfriend. She and Chris talked a lot of shop throughout dinner which was to be expected. To her credit, she was also very thoughtful throughout dinner and made sure to ask about Brooks and include me in the conversation whenever possible. Still, at the end of the night, I left feeling insecure about myself. Being a stay at home mom carries a certain stigma. I feel that others look at me like I’m not intelligent, driven, or even interesting. Often in our society, your worth is measured by the status of your position and the amount of money you make. I remember when I quit my job doing medical device sales and started doing personal training I felt slightly the same way. I suppose people may feel the same way when they retire. Like it or not, our identity is tied to what we do. I often find myself wanting to tell people who I just met that I had a successful career in sales prior to being a mom and a personal trainer. When I discussed the matter with my husband (with tears of course), he pointed out that the issue is actually the way I view being a stay at home mom. In his opinion people don’t view me any differently, I just think they do. To be honest, I don’t totally believe this but I do think he has a point. Why do I need validation from other people (especially people I hardly know) that I’m smart and interesting? Why don’t I have enough confidence in myself to know that I’m both and that I’m also a really good mother? I remember when I was doing medical device sales and I was at the top of my game, I still told one of my co-workers that at the end of my life I didn’t feel that my success at work meant anything. I didn’t want people talking about how I was really good at sales at my funeral. I realized at that point that even though society may have thought more of me because I was making good money, my value in this life comes from who I am, not what I do. Funny now, because that’s not entirely true. I do believe what I do each day is really important. Sure, I’m not going to cure cancer, but I hope to raise a kind, loving, intelligent son who does good in the world. What I spend my days doing now is more important to me than what I used to do. On top of that, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. I want to be the one to teach Brooks his first words, to pick him up and kiss his boo-boos, and to teach him to say “please” and “thank you”. So why even after I know all of this, do I feel so small sitting across from a self-made successful business-woman? I guess I just need to remind myself each day that even though I may not have a glamorous job, I have an important one and the only one that I want right now. At the end of my life, I pray that people will tell my children that they had a really good mother, that I loved them with all of my heart, and that I loved raising them. And, I hope that as people say this, my children will already know all of this to be true.
This past weekend my husband and I went to a wedding down in Key West. We first flew to Ohio to drop Brooks off at my parents house. We had a really great time at the wedding and it was honestly nice to have some adult time. Still, I was really excited to get home to see Brooks. Three days was a good amount of time to be away from him. Tuesday was the first morning that we were home. Brooks woke up about 6:45 and I was excited to go and see him. I opened the door to his room and he looked at me and literally crawled the opposite direction in his crib. I went and picked him up and he was immediately irritated. I won’t go through all of the details but essentially what continued was the worst temper tandrum I have ever seen him throw for the next 5 minutes. He almost succeeded in throwing himself off of the diaper changing station and at the end of the melt down he purposely grabbed my face in an effort to tear it apart. It was at that moment that I cried. I cried not because he physically hurt me but because he emotionally did. He was mad at me for what I assume was for leaving him over the weekend and he was making me pay for it. I cried because I felt guilty for leaving him. I know in my mind that it’s fine that I did. He was in good hands and I’ve left him overnight only a few times in his life. I know he was fine, but still. He was obviously having a hard time adjusting and I felt bad for that.
Guilt seems to me to be one of the many things that all moms share. I’ve talked to other mothers who feel guilty for working, guilty for not nursing longer, guilty for feeling like bad mothers, guilty for not being able to give their kids more. For me, I feel guilty when I’m not there when Brooks wakes up from naps. I feel guilty for not having more stored breast milk when I can’t get him to drink anything else. I feel guilty for spending so much time working out. I’m a stay at home mom because that’s my choice and it’s what works best for our family. I spend a lot of time with Brooks but still…if I’m not with him every waking second there is a nagging thought in the back of my mind that feels like I should be with him.
I honestly have no idea of how to get over this guilt. My Mom says to just let it go. “Guilt never did anyone any good.” I believe this. I also believe that I’m a good mom. I believe we are all doing the best we can and there is no reason for us to feel guilty. Still, it is easier said than done.
This morning when I got Brooks up, he looked at me again and crawled the other way. He woke up in a fowl mood. Today, I accepted it as just that. I didn’t take his moodiness personally. For today at least, I didn’t feel guilty about it. As for tomorrow, well, we’ll see…