Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Am I Failing at Motherhood?

After reading this mom's confession, I was inspired to share a little something I think about more than food; my daughter, and my own guilt.

Three days after Emma was born, we took her to the doctor to have her jaundice checked out, her levels were back to normal, but we were faced with another problem, her weight had dropped by about 8%. My hormones, lack of sleep and the new found responsibility of the little peanut in my arms coupled with the nurse's lack of tact followed by her announcement that I would have to supplement with formula if she had lost any more weight at the weigh-in the next morning had me in tears in that doctor's office, I was certain my fears were right, I already couldn't take care of my baby. I felt guilty that my body was failing us. I woke up and fed Emma every one and a half hours that night. The next morning, when I placed her little naked body on the scale she had gained 5 ounces. I had won that battle, by the war with myself and my emotions was just beginning.

In the 15 months since that day in the doctor's office, I have said out loud the words: 'guilt', 'guilty', 'bad mom', 'worry' and 'failing' to myself, my husband, and just a couple of friends hundreds of times. It got so bad that a few months ago at the insistence of them all, I found a therapist I now see twice a month.

The spectrum of my guilt is wide; is the TV that we keep on in the evenings impacting her development, or it creating too much noise for her to handle? Is she eating too many cheerios? Are her meals balanced? Do I spend too much time cooking dinner, and not enough time with her when I get home? Should I have had that 2nd (or 3rd) glass of wine last night after she went to bed? (What if there had been an emergency and I was half a bottle past sober?) Emma doesn't have any little friends, how will she learn to play/share? She needs to be outside more, is she getting too much sun is she is outside?

The longest and most brutal fight with myself is over my work/life balance. I work full-time with a thirty minute commute each way. I leave my house by 7:00 am and return by 5:30 pm every weekday. I get home, pack Emma into the car and drive our nanny home (about 5 minutes away) then it's time to make dinner, eat, maybe 30 minutes of play time after dinner and then bath, book and bed for the little one. Feeding my family nutritious home cooked meals is very important to me, but is it a determent to Emma? I feel guilty that I'm spending so much of my time cooking and not focused solely on her.

We love our nanny Isabel, and she loves Emma and Emma adores her too. But this morning my heart was in my stomach when we walked out to greet Isabel in the kitchen, (We're lucky to have Isabel arrive about 45 minutes early each morning so that I can get ready for work.) Emma took one look at her and started shaking her head 'no' and turned on her heels, arms outstretched, morning had come too soon, and she still wanted mama. Her protests about being with Isabel lasted only a few seconds, and then she was back to her happy self in her wonderful nanny's arms, but I was so sad as I walked to our bedroom to get ready for the day. In an ideal world I would stay home with Emma, while still working from home a few hours each day so that I can help fulfill that need most of us have to eat and pay bills. Unfortunately, my current job requires that I be in the office. My husband and I have had many conversations about this over the last year and while he is supportive either way, I feel guilty about not pulling my weight financially. And to be honest, earning a paycheck is really gratifying, I like knowing that I can buy cute things for Emma or myself without having to worry about the impact it may have on our family budget. But one part of Erin Hill's essay has really stuck with me:

'The same script plays in my head every morning: 'It's just temporary. We just need to get through this week, this month, this summer, this school year',And then: "They wont wait for you. Their childhood is now and they are not getting what they need. You aren't giving them what they need. They need you, and you're not here."

I guess the point of this post is part venting and in part casting a line to see if there are any moms who have found the wok/life balance I am struggling with finding. How do you handle the stress of motherhood and work?


  1. Hi Silvia! You have a lovely blog! I hear you and understand you completely. I know what it is to have a real paycheck. With our many moves I had to sacrifice my own career and thankfully I found my passion through blogging. I had a mother who was always working and I have to say that I don't resent her for that. She was my role model but the thing was is that when she got home from work she gave us the attention we were wanting, but if I have this memory then that means we were older than your daughter. She had help that would cook so she never had to come home and cook. I think you are doing the right things for you and your family. You have to do what works for you. All moms go through different "guilty" feelings though. Even I working from home that doesn't mean that I can devote 100% of my time to them. They have their needs and wants and I have them too, and somewhere along that you have to find balance. Balance is very difficult to find and I am still working on it. Sometimes it seems more like a juggle. If you are questioning yourself about all of this, then I think that means you are a pretty great Mom and all you can do is your best. Don't be so hard on yourself. And it gets much easier when they get a little older.

    1. Seeing that you don't resent your mom for working out of the house is incredibly reassuring. You're right about our roles as mother, wife and self being all about juggling to keep a balance. It's funny, times like now after reading your thoughtful words, I feel secure with the decision I have made to work- but there are other times, lots of them really when I am riddled with anxiety about whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze as they say. Thank you so much for your sweet note Sara!!