The countdown is officially on: I’m returning to work from maternity leave in exactly 27 days. Even though it’s my second time around the return doesn’t seem any easier, and like any big life change I’m feeling pretty emotional and conflicted. Hey, isn’t that what mom'ing is all about anyways?
I feel guilty.
But I’m awesome, why do I feel like this?
In true grade-2 book report fashion I have turned to Webster for answers: Guilt is defined as an emotional feeling that you are doing something wrong, whether true or not.
Oh, so guilt can be totally irrational, that’s helpful!
This feeling isn’t new but since becoming a mom the intensity of guilt I can feel has reached new heights. When it comes to the job of parenthood the stakes feel so high and even the simple decisions feel like they will impact my children forever. Just as pregnancy brain turns into mom brain, run of the mill entire-bag-of-popcorn-for-lunch guilt turns into #momguilt, at least for this gal.
Enter ‘return to work’ guilt
Committing to return to working mom status now feels just as tough as the first time. The debate rages on, my friends. The last time around I was excited to be back at my previous role as a facilitator however I think it was pretty obvious to everyone that I was leaving someone very special at home. I found myself kicking off each course I delivered with “I have been away for a year, at a very different job with a different boss, on call 24/7, that job being a full-time mom.” Super endearing and relatable for the 20 year old recent finance grad hires, right?
If guilt is irrational then I guess it makes sense that even though I know returning to work is right for me I can’t shake the #momguilt. My brain continues to work, worry, rinse repeat about this big change and what it means for me, my husband and our girls.
#Momguilt can be a nagging, never-ending, all-consuming kind of feeling. Even if you’re a mom who doesn’t feel guilty about heading back to work (umm own it that’s awesome!), I can assure you the ‘return to work’ specimen feels a lot like how it feels when you take an extra second before addressing a poosplosion, or when you let your baby cry for a couple of minutes before going to get him/her (maybe while writing a blog post about #momguilt for example…). I guess there is comfort in consistency.
Being awesome somewhere else for the same reason
“Going back to work, you are supporting your daughter, just in a different way”.
A mom friend imparted those words on me as I returned to work after my first maternity leave. It’s a kind of mantra I would repeat in the bathroom when I checked in with myself and felt the guilt monster over my shoulder. As I return to work I’m thinking about how many other moms and dads are doing the same and I just wish you all a transition that is as guilt-free as possible. Be kind to yourselves, we’ll get through this together!