Guilt, the bag I carry everywhere.
When I was a little girl my mother would inevitably say, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" At various points in time the responses and dreams varied- Rockette (never hit the height minimum), chef (was discouraged by family because they worked nights and weekends), fashion designer (my ability to color inside the lines was a challenge), architect (despite long interest and success in math, I didn't think I had what it took)...you get the picture, I wanted to be a lot of things. At some point, my decision making at a ripe old age of ...17...deemed business would be the route I go.
So off to college I went, in pursuit of a degree and gainful employment that I hoped provided me enough money to live in
What does this have to do with being a new mom you might be asking yourself, and frankly, I'm not entirely sure it does. But that's my problem.
My entire life, I imagine a career for myself, but also imagined being a full time mom. My own mother had been a part-time nurse, and I always thought it was a disadvantage (having grown up in a town where most mom's did stay home). I always assumed I'd be a burgeoning executive, and then without hesitation and with plenty of means, that would go to the side for 10-20 years while I raised my children.
But as you know, life doesn't always go as imagined. I did become the executive I'd always hoped, but had never imagined, but it wasn't so easy to just turn away.
For starters, I actually did all of that sweat and toil to be a decision maker. To lead a team. To inspire tomorrow. Before becoming pregnant, I had this partial vision
Pay and benefits...I suppose why so many people play lotto. They want enough money to not sweat it; me too. My husband launched his business years ago and due to a combination of factors, was finally to set out on his own just around the same time our dd was born. He does well, but it is 100% on him, and it is more blood, sweat and time that I'd ever imagine putting into something. The rewards can be great, but the risk is high, and an unexpected health care issue could truly bankrupt a family without question.
So I stay at my position, and when I'm in my prime I feel great. However, there are a million moments a week when I wonder how I got here. And I wonder who it was that wanted us to "have it all" and "do it all"? I long for simpler times.
I wonder, “Can I quit today?” Could I convince my boss to fire me?
I am riddled with guilt. Am I home enough? Am I present enough? And as I sneak out of work to make an earlier trainer, or slide in late, having stayed home for more time, I wonder, Am I working enough? I try to surround myself with strong, similar situation women, but frankly it is hard. I have a great, diverse group of friends in different situations, but like the guilt I wear about motherhood, it creeps into my friendships, my family relationships, and my own personal maintenance.
There is guilt also associated for even wanting to quit. Do I want/need to put that kind of pressure on my husband, and won’t I eventually want to work again? And if I think I will work again, how would I re-enter the workforce?
As I try to come to a conclusion, I realize that there isn't one conclusion. There isn't an answer, and that this challenge will probably stay with me for a long time to come. Longer than I would ever use a purse...
Guilt is something I know all Moms in all different situations carry. What is your guilt and how do you cope?