(My) Milestone Monday: No More Mommy Guilt! I Refuse It


Last weekend Phil was away. I don’t have help on the weekends. I was by myself with both babies.

Here’s the scene:

Up at 6 a.m. Throw Emmett on the boob. Park Fia in front of Super Why.  Make coffee. Get Fia breakfast. Switch to Sesame Street. Let Emmett roll around on the carpet while I supervise and sip coffee (2 minutes of quality time). Feed cat. Emmett poops. Explosively. Put Fia in her high chair with a coloring book and bathe Emmett. Then feed him again. Fia starts to whine for eggs. Put Emmett in the swing and make eggs.  Plop eggs in front of Fia. Emmett starts to fuss. Pick him up. He poops again…a crazy amount. I am covered. In sh-t. I keep Fia locked in her high chair and give Emmett a sink bath. Put him back in swing, go change my clothes. Fia is finished. Begins to throw crayons. I am so happy she earned herself a time out, because for those 2 minutes I take my Lexapro, my Wellbutrin, and debate a shot of tequila.

I look at the clock. It is 7:30. Well f–k me.

At that moment, standing in my kitchen, dripping with sweat and both babies screaming, I had a complete and utter revelation. NO MORE GUILT.  Divine Intervention of the Non-Guilty Mom spoke to me.

I’m totally going to “out” myself here. I have full-time help and a part-time job. Not even. I’m a freelancer. I even have a night nurse a few times a week. It was almost every night in the beginning (I’d pump and bring her the bottle.) With Fia, I lost my mind with lack of sleep. It was so stressful for all those around me; I decided with Emmett I would do things differently. I would take my therapist’s advice and throw money at the problem. Lots of it. I could have sustained a village in Africa. Maybe two. Instead, I’ve sustained my mental health. And my marriage.

Up until now I’ve been afraid to fully confess. I’ve been nervous about the backlash from moms who will say I’m indulgent, that I’m not taking care of my kids, or even the “extremists” saying, “Why did you have kids if you’re not going to raise them?” Because here’s the thing: I am raising them and I now know I am doing a far better job with hired help than I could ever do on my own.

I shouldn’t have to justify this, but before I go further here’s why I have a full-time nanny: with Cleo in my life, I can pick and choose which child I want to be with. I can get quality time with both. That is key. But, I can also go to the bank, the grocery store, the nail salon and get a massage, all without carting a kid around. I can pay bills without sticking Fia in front of the TV. And blog. Added bonus: Cleo sometimes cooks for us. I still feel like I have zero time and I practically have a staff. Yet I often battle the demons of guilt. Shouldn’t I just plow through this on my own and be with my kids every hour that I can?

First of all, carting my kids to the store isn’t quality time. But now I think holding down the fort alone with your kids isn’t quality time either. For me, it was about keeping them alive. It was S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L.

Yet, my battle is constant: When I’m not with them, I feel like I should be. When I am with them at my house with the to-do list staring me in the face, I think of everything else I have to do.

While I’m at it, here’s another confession: I don’t love to “play.” As in, sit on the floor and build blocks or have a tea party.  I love watching Fia play though. I like to see the creative way she invents characters or stacks things. But pretending to pour tea over and over again? Honestly? I get bored.

So what I’ve done is carve out specific mornings and afternoons that Fia and I “do” things. We ride the kiddie train near our house, go on playdates to waterparks, museums, whatever. But usually it’s somewhere outside of the house. To me, that’s where I find my quality time with her.

Granted, throughout my solo-parenting day, we did have 9 more minutes of pure fun at home.  Fia and I were watering the lawn and she took the hose and squirted me. A mini water battle ensued. We chased each other around laughing. Emmett was taking one of his 20-minute cat naps (which is about all I ever get). “Ahh, see I’m doing it,” I thought to myself. “This is what the full-time moms get.” But then she fell, screamed for a Band-Aid, Emmett woke up arching his back (ready to release 11 more fart bubbles), and the moment was gone.

So why do I feel guilty for having help? Without it, I wouldn’t have quality time. Or maybe I would for a mere 11 minutes per day. Hardly enough to justify the guilt.

Sometimes I envy the full-time working moms because they can totally justify their nannies or  daycare. Other times I envy the SAHMs (Stay-At-Home-Moms) who I picture doing this in an orderly way.  I think I fall in this in-between area and perhaps that is where my guilt comes from. Or used to come from.

But ever since my revelation last weekend, I am trying to stop second-guessing how I raise my kids and just feel lucky I have this luxury.

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  1. by Keri

    On August 13, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Hope to be you someday! For now I’m working full time. But don’t feel guilty about anything! You are doing what is right for you! Go mama! And that morning you described? I’ve had those… They suck. http://Www.laderamom.wordpress.com

  2. by Stephanie Sprenger

    On August 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Good for you mama! I too feel guilty about my dislike for playing, as well as using help when I don’t “need it “. We do what we need to do to be happy healthy parents and more of us should have the courage to put it out there. Well done.

  3. by Robbie

    On August 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Amen Sister! I, too, work freelance jobs and now that my daughter is 3 in preschool I don’t always have a full-time nanny (used to), but after suffering post-partum depression, at about 8 weeks, my doctor insisted I throw money at the problem and get a night nurse to help us start to recover. Ever since then, my husband and I have learned the value of having at extra help for our well- being. We don’t have family around and don’t care to be maryrs. You put it so well that running errands with your child isn’t quality time, and sticking them in front of the tv to get things done isn’t any better, just cheaper (and people who claim they don’t do it are liars). Or maybe it’s just for moms who take Welbutrin since I take it too :) . Well said!

  4. by Jenn Jenn

    On August 14, 2012 at 4:11 am

    There is never enough “MUM”..that’s my favorite saying..Having another helping hand is what society used to do when we lived in family groups..I ended up in a ball in the middle of the living room floor after ten months of exhaustion and doing it all alone. Do what you can to preserve your sanity without guilt..It gets easier in time :)

  5. by Kim

    On August 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

    I am, and was raised by, one of those full time SAHM moms. We don’t do ANYTHING in an orderly fashion. My house is clean maybe once a week, for an hour.
    We all have days where we wouldn`t have the help you do for the world, and we all have days we would kill for it. I have yet to meet a mother that would not have wanted a night nurse with the newborn. I do NOT regret my lifestyle, or parenting style, but I’m sure not gonna judge you for yours! If your healthier for that help than use it.

  6. by Courtney

    On August 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

    It is so brave to put this out there! It’s clear you love your kids and husband and that you’re caring for them in the way that is best for your family–not to mention your sanity!

    ps – I generally get bored playing too. Isn’t that why we run around setting up play dates, so they can play with other kids??!!

  7. by Sarah

    On August 14, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Oh, I don’t know; I absolutely consider taking my son on errands, cleaning the house with him, and cooking dinner with him “quality time.” However, I don’t battle any mental or psychological issues, so I don’t know what it’s like to be in that position.

    I’d say don’t be afraid to admit that you have help, just like you shouldn’t be afraid to admit that you need help. My first reaction to reading this (I’m ashamed to say) was to be a bit judge-y. But I took a step back and reminded myself that, for the love of God, we mothers are so judgmental; why would I add to that? Plus, like I said, I don’t know what your life is like any more than you know what mine is. Who am I to judge you and your decisions?

    I think that mainly I’m commenting to apologize to you for my initial reaction. And to say that you have a lot of courage to write so honestly, and I admire that.

  8. by Jill Cordes

    On August 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I am so relieved to not have to defend myself to everyone and that you guys were all so understanding and supportive. Sarah–I totally get where you’re coming from and we all tend to be judge-y. Thank you for your kind note. And I will admit, when I take Fia to the store, we have a lot of fun as I fly her around on the cart. That is actually quality time, while accomplishing something. I think it’s Emmett that I don’t want to drag around. It’s just such a pain, and easier to keep him at home and on a semi-schedule.

    I’m sitting at a coffee shop–alone–writing and it feels great. Especially after reading all this from you guys. Thanks.

  9. by steph

    On August 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for “putting it out there” regarding your special medical needs. I suffered through years of an eating disorder, depression and anxiety with little support from my well-meaning family, then the past few years have included unemployment, an ill-timed pregnancy, health concerns, and generally wondering how we are going to pay the bills. I am currently experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks and am trying to hide it as best I can from everyone. I certainly would love to have the resources you have. I am certainly not judging you. Just appreciate what you have and keep loving your family. That’s most important :-)

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  11. by Leslie

    On August 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Thanks for admitting you don’t love playtime. That is my guiltiest mommy issue! I’m just not any good at it!

  12. by Elyse

    On August 15, 2012 at 1:40 am

    I have an amazing psychiatrist (here in LA) who deals with post-partum women and he explained that, for me, being an independent person before kids and suddenly having to rely on your husband for every move you make (bc someone always has to be responsible for the kids), your entire world has just turned upside down. Having that nanny allows for you to have some of that independence of your old life. It is super uncomfortable for me to “ask” my husband permission to go places when all my life I’ve never asked anyone’s permission to do what I want. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I have no apologies for needing that help to cope with the huge transition into motherhood. A healthy parent makes for a healthy child!

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  24. [...] get to say I’ve “Mom-ed Up.” At least in the nights. No way am I getting rid of my daytime help. I still think Cassandra will be [...]

  25. [...] telling Phil everything he had to remember to do for the kids while I was away. I was calling Cleo, explaining everything to her as well (as if she isn’t there every day already. Hello control [...]