I’m having a love-hate relationship with high heels right now. I love that I get to wear them again now that I’ve gone back to work.
But I hate the guilt that those shoes bring – guilt about putting my daughter in someone else’s care while I’m toiling away for a paycheck.
It’s the quintessential mommy dilemma: to work or not.
I had been working in newspapers for several years before I got pregnant. And the plan was for me to go back to work part-time after my daughter was born. Five years later, I still get a sinking feeling when I think back on the last night of my maternity leave. I had just brought this tiny little human into the world and spent the last 12 weeks bonding with her, napping with her, snuggling with her, pacing the floor through the night with her. And just like that I had to hand her over to someone else.
It was not one of my better times. I resented my husband for not being a millionaire so I didn’t have to work. I hated myself because I didn’t feel like I was being mother. I worried my sweet new baby would think I had abandoned her. I couldn’t focus at work and I seethed with jealousy when I saw stay-at-home moms out with their babies.
Four years later, after the death of my husband and moving back home to Charleston, I took some time off. And oddly enough, the stay-at-home mom lifestyle wasn’t the one I had idealized. Maybe because I was doing it alone. Maybe because my daughter wasn’t a newborn anymore. I’m not sure of the reason, but there weren’t a lot of these “perfect” days I envisioned us having. Yes, we played a lot of Candyland and made Valentine heart necklaces and baked cookies. But we also kinda got on each other’s nerves. We needed our own time and space.
And you know what else happened during my stay-at-home mom stint? I felt GUILTY then too. Guilty that I was wasting my college education. Guilty that I wasn’t teaching my daughter the value of hard work. Guilty that I was letting her think that money grew on trees. Guilty that I wasn’t setting a good example.
It seems like no matter what we do, we can never escape mom guilt. If you happen to know how, let me know. I’ll buy you a cute pair of heels.