New Moms

Replacing 'Mommy Guilt' with 'Separation Anxiety'

| by Nataly Kogan

I went back to work when my daughter was three months old and I started to feel guilty almost immediately. I read a lot of articles about how feeling guilty wasn’t productive or helpful, did a lot of pep talking, heard great advice from lots of moms about not feeling guilty, and tried really hard to nip it in the butt. I failed.

But a funny thing happened this year — the guilt didn’t disappear, but it did become a lot more muted. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen just how damn happy my daughter is at her daycare, how much she is growing and learning.

Or because I’ve realized that while I’d love to work a bit less, I do really love to work and it makes me a really great woman, mom and person. I don’t know how or why, but the working mom guilt is now well on the back burner of my mind.

It would be really fun if that was the end of the story. But it’s not because its spot has been taken up by something else — my adult version of separation anxiety. When I am not working or doing something that’s a must-do, like cooking or cleaning or running errands, I feel that I need to be with my daughter.

I rush through my shower every morning so that I can get a few more minutes with her before dropping her off at school. I say no to endless (OK, that was fun to say and feel popular, but they are not endless, just a few) invitations from my friends to grab lunch on a weekend because if my daughter is not sleeping I want to be with her. And so on.

I guess it’s a form of mommy guilt but it’s not that I feel guilty. I just feel compelled to be there, with my daughter, whenever possible. She is four and a half and I realize that things will be much different when she is a teenager and slams the door in my face when I want to hang out with her. But for now, she is happy to have me.

Thing is, I know I should separate more and not just for work. It would do me a lot of good to have a relaxing day alone or with a friend or hey, more than a day. I got completely envious when I was reading Angella’s post about taking a vacation on her own, away from her kids and her husband. And then I read Britt’s post about taking a road trip with her girlfriend and got even more envious. We all love our families, but c’mon, we all need a break from them. Now I just have to get over this annoying separation anxiety and get on my way.