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This Is Me, Feeling My Mom Guilt

As I left for work this morning, I took one more glance at my youngest. The nanny was holding my 16-month-old, he was sadly staring at me, watching me leave him—again. His face silently heartbroken, perhaps he knew crying wouldn’t end my inevitable departure. I watched as the nanny lovingly kissed his forehead while chatting with my toddler.

I turn and walk out the door thinking, “that’s the way I kiss him.” I should feel comforted; she’s gentle with him, and he’s no longer screaming at the door while I leave. I should find solace, but I don’t. Rather, I am met with unfamiliar guilt, which takes up the front seat of my Jeep, follows me into work, and sits at my desk.

A few hours later, as I sat at my desk, distracted and regretful,  I sent the nanny a text. I asked about Emmy, how was he doing and told her I missed him. She responds with a short video, they’re at the park and he is swinging. My baby is laughing, carefree and untroubled. Delighting in the sunshine as he swings back and forth. I wonder if he’s thinking of me, I’m sure he isn’t. My heart aches with every smile and I call myself each hurtful name. I am selfish, weak and stupid for allowing myself to miss out on my boys’ lives four out of seven days a week.

I’ve been a working mother for four months, and I am embarrassed to admit, I don’t often feel guilty.

I didn’t exactly go searching for a job, I completed my schooling and the plan was to work when the boys started school. I didn’t have to work. Financially speaking, we were fine when my sole title was “mommy”, my husband was able to provide for our family of four. We didn’t have many extras but we were comfortable.

Yet, the Universe sort of handed me my dream job. My friend unexpectedly asked me to interview for the recovery home she worked at; within that one hour interview, this “one-day-a-week job”, turned into a full-time, 40 hours, four days a week, salary and benefits position. I left the interview in shock, I had never been offered an “adult” job. This was an opportunity to begin my career.

Once the disbelief faded, the realization that my stay-at-home-mom life could potentially end, set in, and with that, came excitement.

It’s no secret that I’m not passionate about mommy life, and as I SAHM, I often felt on edge.

I wasn’t miserable, nor was I nearly content. I discovered how unsatisfied I had been when I began working. I relished my new position; I enjoyed my three-day weekend with the boys, but come Sunday evening I was ready for the work week. Through adult conversations and job responsibility, I found a new happiness. I uncovered a different me, a woman I had yet to meet.

I had something new—a purpose.

Yet, there I sat at my desk (the only place in the entire world that my own), watching a video of my son. I wanted to cry, I wanted to throw up.

What’s more, I felt guilty about the guilt, because I know that this was ultimately my choice.

For the first time (in the four years I’ve been a mom), I choose to be kind and cut myself a break. I acknowledge my feelings because they are valid. I am allowed to feel guilty while simultaneously doing nothing to rectify the situation. Because deep down I know, this seemingly selfish decision was the right one.

Yes, my boys deserve their mama, but they deserve a happy one. They are entitled to a mom who’s constantly working on herself. A mama who’s not exhausted by the monotony of stay-at-home life. My sons are worthy of a mom who doesn’t resent their dad for leaving every day to chase his purpose—mom who is proud of what she’s doing with her life.

There are many women who find that, and more, in being a stay-at-home-mom; they are excited and fulfilled by raising their children. As much as I long to be one of those women, I am not. And beating myself up, won’t help me change.

However, you can bet your ass I’ll spend every weekend watching my baby smile.

Melissa is a 29-year-old student and stay at home mom to her two boys; 3-year-old Watson and her newborn, Emerson. She is married to a wonderful sober man and they have created a blessed life in Southern California.

Melissa has been sober since 11.6.13 and is active in 12 step fellowships. She understands there are no sober blueprints, and different things work for different people. Along with addiction, Melissa struggles with mental health issues, addiction to self-harm, and has a habit of self-loathing. Through recovery, she has begun to overcome those obstacles.

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