After I had my first child, a new feeling boldly stole center stage in my life - guilt. As my maternity leave came to an end I was faced with the dreaded “return to work” day. How could I possibly choose to spend my days working instead of home with my beautiful child? I was a horrible person. Not to mention how utterly terrible I was for sending my daughter to daycare all day. I quickly became obsessed with the number of hours she spent outside of my care – if I drop her off at 8 and pick her up at 5 she is spending 9 hours at school. How selfish of me for wanting a career!
I took comfort in a friend who stayed at home with her children – thinking she would help me find a way to quit my job and escape to her glorious world. It didn’t take long for me to realize that she too had a storm of guilt playing a major role in her life- causing her to question her own choices. Why did I spend time and money on an MBA when I spend my day with a 2 and 4 year old? Am I spending too much time running errands and too little time with the flash cards? Are my kids involved in enough activities? And so on.
Her questions were very different than mine but the resulting feeling was exactly the same. We were both miserable and wasting too much time and energy second-guessing ourselves and our choices. We were our own worst enemies – moving through life with the dark cloud of guilt hanging over our heads – always wondering if the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.
So I made the conscious decision to stop the madness. I pushed the storm of guilt out of my life. Like a bright and sunny day, I started to focus on why I had made certain choices in my life – to work, to send my kid to daycare – and I started owning my decisions. I stopped apologizing for my choices and accepted them as the best choices for me. I refused to acknowledge guilt. I had a new mantra – This is how I live my life – it works for me – it works for my family.
Now, guilt is a really sneaky. It tries to casually roll back into my life at times- especially when I miss a school event or PTO meeting. I work constantly to re-affirm that I’m doing my best and that’s all I can do.
A funny thing happened when I made the conscious decision NOT to feel guilty anymore….I was happy. My kids were happy. Things were falling into place with my career, my home, my family.
Whether you work or stay at home, choose daycare or choose a nanny, you’ve got to be confident and comfortable in your decisions – and know you are doing the best for you. You’ve got what it takes to push the storm of guilt out of your life and make your own grass even greener.
Photo credit – Nitibob on Flickr Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nitibob/2786445544/