Yet another guilty mommy

September 18th, 2009 by admin Leave a reply »

I just read I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood for book club. Authors Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile interviewed a lot of moms who feel a lot of guilt about a lot of things. It got me to thinking: What do I feel guilty about—aside from never putting together any scrapbooks for Carter?

I don’t feel guilty about working, even though I’m gone from 8 am to 6 pm every weekday. (I don’t know how stay-at-home moms do it—how they have the patience and physical stamina. The most exhausting time of my life was my 20-week maternity leave.) I think it’s good for Carter to see me do what I love. It doesn’t hurt, in his eyes, that my job means I can make a book about airplanes.

I don’t feel guilty about Carter going to daycare. He learns more at Lucy’s than I could ever teach him staying at home. (Did I mention he understands Russian?)

However, I do feel tremendously guilty if I do something, even take a class, when Carter is not in daycare and is awake: weekday mornings, weeknights between coming home and bedtime at 8 pm, and weekends, outside of naptime, until bedtime.

Last fall, I went on two business trips, four days to New York and three days to Florida—the first time and only times I’ve ever left Carter for more than a day.

I also feel guilty when I want to sleep in the morning, but Carter is awake—especially when he bounces in at 6 am, or even 7 am, and says, “Get up, Mommy! I want you to play with me.”

I should be grateful. For years, Carter got up between 5 and 5:30 am—every morning. And that was it. We were both awake. I’d read stacks and stacks of books. I’d take him for walks in our PJs. Sometimes, I got lucky: he’d nurse and then we’d both snooze.

However, I feel like if I were a truly Good Mother, I would spend and savor every possible hour—even when I’d rather be sleeping—with Carter.

Truth is: Carter doesn’t care that much if I’m gone, as long as it’s not an extensive absence and Jeff is around. Carter actually wants me to go to yoga class on Saturday morning because he likes to go to childcare at the Y (they have fun toys). He’s starting to decline to go on errands with me, even to Trader Joe’s (!), to stay home and play. Sometimes, he’d rather watch TV than bake with me (double ouch). If I leave to go somewhere, I get a “ba-bye” for the most part.

Yet. I feel guilty. Welcome to modern motherhood. According to the book, I’m in good company.



  1. Cindy says:

    The last thing I need is a book to encourage me to mull over my mommy guilt. geez. I think mom’s spend too much time trying to be perfect these days (myself included) and there’s way too much pressure to do so.
    I appreciate your honesty here though. We all have to make choices and keep our fingers crossed. Luckily, my kids seem pretty resilient so far.

  2. Shelly Kanneberg says:

    Wow, Liz. I thought I was the only mom on the planet that had these “guilty” feelings. Kids love diversity. I used to feel so bad leaving our kids with babysitters. After all, we waited a really long time for our family. Here’s the thing … our kids are better socialized than other kids who are coddled all the time by Mommy and Daddy. They know how to behave around other people (most of the time), they know how to behave in public (again, most of the time) … I think you understand. I read your comments and realized that we are good Moms. We know when to hold our children close, and we know when to let them be free and independent.

  3. Anita says:

    Yeah, I hear ya. I think it’s most important to be available all the time when they’re younger. Conor is certainly enjoying a bit more independence. The worst part around the Mother Thing household is the early morning when I’m still sleeping with the twins and Conor wants to wake them up and kiss me and them. Serious conflicting maternal demands.

  4. admin says:

    You should definitely read this book. One of its themes is that lots of moms share these feelings and how important it is to other moms to talk to each other and support each other.

  5. admin says:

    Actually, based on your comment, you might like the book. It’s pretty down-to-earth about how unrealistic expectations are for mom these days—especially our own.

  6. admin says:

    Sleep vs. bonding time. It’s a tough call. Sleep is even more precious with newborns—for all three of you.

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