Friday, February 11, 2011

Mommy Guilt

Through several conversations I've had this week, I starting to think there is an epidemic called
Mommy Guilt!

Why is is that no matter what we do,
we always feel like we are coming up short and failing

our husbands,
children,
careers,
and ourselves?

Why do we put so much pressure and demands on ourselves?

In a conversation with a fellow co-worker the other day, we discussed how we felt torn between our careers and our families.  Both of us have invested a lot of time into our education.  Both of us felt that while we weren't excelling in our careers, we also weren't succeeding as mothers. 

I sometimes even feel like I'm failing at both. 

She told me a story of a friend of hers, a successful laywer,
who took an entire year off when her son was born. 

I thought "whoa"
What courage! 
What bravery! 
What love!

In our minds, however, to do something like that would "kill" our careers.  So, in the meantime, we gush over our babies when we are with them, provide the best care we can while we are working, and beat ourselves up for it every day!

As I mentioned before, I was able to participate in a round table discussion about breastfeeding and coming back to work.  I truly identified with some of the other women there.  "Jackie" was committed to breastfeeding her daughter for one year and then she was "off duty"!  "Sarah", a fellow student, was so relieved to hear about our school's president making policy that supported staff and student rights to breastfeed.  I was truly touched by two of the other women there.

"Cindy" was 11 weeks along with her second child.  With her first, she had been able to take that mystical year off.  Now with her second, she was working full time as a dental assistant and going to school for nursing.  You go Momma!  But that ambition was coming at a price.  She spends 12 hours a day away from home.  Yet, she wants to give her new baby the best she can, while providing a better life for her first.  Cindy was going to have to make a lot of sacrifices to make this happen.

"Nadia" has a one year old daughter at home and is starting to think about "number 2". However, she was concerned about nursing, with all the issues she had with her first.  Having a c-section and then an inverted nipple, her daughter had become a lazy nurser, then her supply dropped, and Nadia made the heartbreaking decision to give up nursing after about a month of exhaustive efforts.  As she tells her story, Nadia says things like "I messed this up", "I did this wrong", "It's my fault".  Watching her tell her story, my heart was breaking for her.  Now, in law school, Nadia has class all day and is trying to figure out how she'll manage maternity leave if she can't be in class and some of the lectures aren't recorded, never mind how she'll juggle the demands of studying, nursing and getting in some sleep as well.

I'll be the first one to admit that before being a mother, I had absolutely no understanding of the demands that is placed on those shoulders.  Now, as I look at the moms around me, I see them wearing their Mommy Guilt like blanket, weighing them down, suffocating them.

"You're doing a great job!!!!"
I want to tell each and every one of them!

But can I say that to myself?

Yes, I can. 

When I look at this smile.




When I hear these giggles.

How can I be failing as much as I think I am when she looks like this?



Momma, look at your children, their smiles.

Hear their giggles.

Even if they can't say the words yet,

they love you,

they adore you,

and they think you are amazing.

(just like I do!)


-Melissa

4 comments:

Jen @ Rolling Through Looneyville said...

GREAT post! And us mamas that stay home have the same thoughts... What if my best isn't good enough? What if my kids, (girls especially), grow up thinking that I gave up on dreams because I didn't pursue a career after they came? (For now)

You know? But I love your encouragement. All mommas are doing the best they can for their little ones, and all of that requires sacrifice.

You ARE doing a great job! And your little one is a-dorable :)

samajama27 said...

What a little beauty!!

Andrea said...

oh my goodness! this is so true and I stay home and often feel this way. And the funny thing was i looked at the beautiful things you sew and thought to myself, how am I going to teach my daugther to sew- I don't know how! the enemy wants us to think we are failing, but you're right we are not- we have victory in Christ! thank you for posting this!! you are an amazing woman and great momma!

Ashley @ Little Miss Momma said...

Fabulous post girl! You said it so perfectly! And you are one fabulous Momma to one BEAUTIFUL baby!!!