It's no surprise to the 8 of you who actually read this blog that being home on maternity leave has exponentially increased the frequency of my writing. When you sit down to feed a baby 6-8 times a day for 30 minutes at a time, you are naturally given more time to process and write (and watch a crap ton of Netflix). As my desire to write has been increasing, I've been challenged with what to write about. I want to be able to share material that is relevant for readers in all walks of life, not just those who are in my exact stage. What I've decided is to create a few basic principals through which all of my writing should be filtered.
1. My writing should be authentic and genuine.
2. My writing should be honest.
3. My writing should point people to hope.
So, in the name of honesty and authenticity, I'm going share about something I am just starting to experience, but that many may have already come to know very intimately...Mom Guilt.
I'm not sure who coined this phrase or how it all started, but ever since visiting Nora's daycare for the first time, I've had a nagging sense of Mom Guilt lingering in the back of my brain. I didn't even leave Nora there the first time, just dropped off some sheets for her crib, but I was a sobbing mess the whole drive home. Something about leaving her everyday and missing out on precious time with her and her tantrums and the everydayness of it all has got me feeling 50 shades of Mom Guilt.
The precious part of it all is that she has no idea and she will probably thrive in daycare because she throws smiles at people like she's running for office and melts hearts in an instant, but for me, I'm so wrought over the idea of someone else getting those special moment instead of me.
Serving up some Mom Guilt with a side of jealousy.
And it starts early. We feel guilty for not exercising more during pregnancy, for eating too many Pop-tarts and gaining "too much" weight. We are pressured into feeding them a certain way, giving them vaccinations and worry about how much or how little they are eating, sleeping or pooping. The sheer magnitude of things I've googled in Nora's first 3 months of life is astounding. Guilt and uncertainty always seem to override any confidence I have in parenting. Just when I think I'm doing something right, she throws a curveball at me and changed up what she needs.
What I'm challenged with in this season is loosening the grip I have on this little peanut. I've tried very hard, throughout my pregnancy, to hold this baby with open hands, knowing she isn't mine first, but God's. And as much as I want to commandeer every.single.moment with her, part of holding her with open hands is entrusting her to God and allowing others to care for her well. A few years ago, I had the privilege of watching two little ones for an extended season, and it was so good for my not-yet-mama heart to get to learn from them, watch them grow and play a small role in their growing-up. I'd hate to rob someone else of that joy because of my own fear and guilt.
One of the many things I desire for Nora is to be deeply loved and cared for by as many people as possible throughout her life. I want to help surround her with women and men who can meet her needs, encourage her heart, speak into her life and constantly remind her of the blessing she is and in order to do that well, I need to loosen up the tight grasp I have on my baby and make space for others. Would I spend more time with her if I could? Absolutely. But should I feel bad because she'll spend some of her days with someone else? Not at all.
Sometimes, to combat Mom Guilt, we need to let logic rule out our feelings. We need to remind ourselves that we have been given the privilege of parenting our children for as long as the Lord lets us, and that we're doing the best we can, gosh darn it. Save those guilty feelings for when you actually do something worth feeling guilty of, like prematurely giving your baby a Dorito that they end up choking on, or leaving the basement door open, leaving your toddler susceptible to fall down the stairs in her walker. (These are actual accounts of my childhood ladies and gents. God bless them, my parents did their best.)
So for anyone else who may be experiencing some sort of Mom Guilt, Dad Guilt, Grandparent Guilt, etc., know you are not alone. But also know that guilt can only have a hold on us if we let it. Here's to loosening up, letting go, and taking this parenting gig, one day at a time.