There’s an endless list of things to feel guilty about as a parent. Here’s one that I’ve been feeling increasingly weird about.
I feel guilty that I actually crave leaving my baby sometimes.
Not in a crazy way. I’m not, like, leaving her alone or with strangers (and never would), but I seem to be a bit ahead of the curve in terms of time away from baby. From day 1 at home, almost every day, I’ve spent 1+ hours doing something that isn’t nursing or rocking Olivia. Better yet, I’ve spent that time outside of the home – walking my dog, shopping, working out…anything. And on the few days I haven’t, I’ve been much more likely to cry.
So what about this makes me feel guilty? Listening to all of the moms (and I really feel like it’s ALL of them) talk about their months of wearing their kid and distress on the first day of preschool; or moms in tears over having to find and trust a nanny; or stories about not getting to breath for months; makes me kind of feel like maybe I’m not in love enough with my baby. The other day I did a workout and told the instructor my baby was 4 weeks old. She asked what I was doing there. It was so awkward trying to convince her, yes, I have enough support to be here and, yes, I have been cleared by my doctor, and no, I won’t do anything that hurts. And then I go home and take over the couch-sitting baby-duty, because that’s my job now, right?
And 10 episodes of Friends later, I really feel like I’m going to lose my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, most of those 5 hours are amazing. I’m talking to my baby, feeding her, waiting with baited breath for the poop that takes her way too long to pass, marveling at her focus on the stairs. I love being with her. But then I realize that I can’t feel my legs, I have to pee, and I totally missed my opportunity to eat lunch before needing to think about dinner. I also feel like my brain is melting from staring at a screen, but let’s be real, how do you hold a book while nursing a baby?
I try to tell myself that I’m just really lucky that I have a partner who’s around (until he’s not, which is awful) and that it’s important for me to keep myself healthy and happy to be a great mom. I try to tell my self that many of those parents who spend their days attached to their babies either wish they had time or are just very different from me. I try, but that mom guilt earwig gets me. What if I’m not attaching enough to my baby? What if I’m being selfish? How am I already ruining our relationship?
But then I remember that, deep down, I’m still Shelley. I spent my first 3 years in Denver learning how to spend time with myself and the last 3 fostering those hobbies. And that Shelley is/will be a great mom. But she still has to be Shelley.