Back to Work and Fighting Mom Guilt


The sound of ocean waves hit me as I push open the door. Turning the sound machine off, I get a glimpse of you asleep, rolled against the side of your crib. Your dirty blonde hair covers your eyes as you roll over. “Mama! Mama!” you say as you grab your blanket. I reach down and pick you up, my beautiful baby girl. You feel heavier. I try to set you down in the kitchen, but you cling tight to me. Days when I’m off work are hard. You know I’ve been gone, and you refuse to be put down. Even though you’re a toddler now, I hold you on my hip and get your breakfast ready as if you were a tiny baby. For the first time in two years, I’m working full time, and every day it hits me, I’m not the mom I used to be. 

As I pour your juice into your sippy cup, I think about the way we used to take mornings slow and go to the park before your nap. If there was time, we might swing by Target on the way back. We haven’t gone to Target together in months. Being a mom is hard regardless of whether or not you work outside the home. I’ve been on both sides; this is a whole new challenge for me.

You dig into your yogurt and enjoy your breakfast. Today is Wednesday. Wednesday used to be MOPS day, where I’d meet with other moms for coffee and craft time. I’d bake orange cinnamon rolls and bring them to share. After breakfast, we sit together on the couch. “Hug!” you say as you lean into me. You’re just as sweet and beautiful as ever. I text Nana to see how things went yesterday. Any detail: what you did together, what you ate, I want to hear it all. 

You start to get upset, and I can’t tell what you want. The guilt sinks in. “Are you acting out because I’ve been gone?” I wonder.

Between the endless list of chores, phone calls, and mail to sort through, we find quality time. Playing with chalk outside brings a smile to your face. Kneeling on the sidewalk drawing shapes with you, all the cares of the world disappear. I’m 100% in the moment. When I stayed home, I might have used this time to clean up the yard a little or stay busy while you played. Not today. I want to soak up every minute with you. The days pass like this, slowly but so fast at the same time. I lay you down for bed, and my heart aches because the next time I see you will be tomorrow at bedtime. Images of you smiling fill my mind. I’m not the mom I used to be. I’m so sorry, and I hope that’s enough. 


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