Guilty or Not Guilty?

Being a mom was always on my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Because I became a mom slightly later in life at age 33, I had plenty of time to prepare. When you become a new mom, everyone under the sun wants to give you advice. Some advice that was given to me really helped get me ready for bringing a newborn home. What no one prepared me for, though, was the amount of mother’s guilt I would have over the next few years.

Guilty or Not Guilty-1Now I know what you’re thinking…everyone feels mommy guilt once in awhile. Just like millions of other moms, I sometimes feel guilty for allowing our daughter to eat too much of something that may not be the best for her (like a hot dog for breakfast two days in a row) or for letting her have too much screen time with my iPad or the TV (Kai-Lan is currently her favorite to watch over and over). My guilt though was complicated and at times hard to let go of. It’s something that I carry with me every single day and is a work in progress.

You see, our daughter is adopted. Adopting a child is no easy task and can be emotionally draining. Our adoption journey had its ups and downs, but has turned out to be the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to us! We have an open adoption and have the most unique and special relationship with our daughter’s birth mother and her family. I honestly couldn’t feel more blessed!


With that, though, comes a lot of guilt. My first bout with overwhelming guilt came when I went back to work after my adoption-leave from teaching kindergarten was over. We worked so hard to become parents and now I was going to be spending eight hours a day with other people’s children and not my own! Being a full-time working mom is hard when some days my students take all of my patience away and there’s not much left when I get home for my own daughter. She can’t help that she is a growing young child who wants to be independent and push limits so I have to work extra hard to make sure and not lose my patience after a long day at school.

Guilty or Not Guilty-3The second biggest piece to my guilt is all of the moments that I have missed or may miss in the future with our daughter because I am away from her all day. I didn’t get to experience any of the things that come with being pregnant, so everything I miss with our daughter now is a huge deal. I don’t know if we will adopt again or ever have another child, so each time she conquers a milestone in her development without me there, I feel sad because I don’t know if I will ever have the chance to experience that again. Since I work for financial reasons (and because I love teaching), I have made a conscious effort to spend as much time with her as I can outside of the school day. She and I have a special bond, which I wouldn’t change for anything. I know that there will be plenty of milestones in the future that I will have the opportunity to experience with her and I really look forward to those special times.


I know that I will feel mother’s guilt about many things across our daughter’s life, but I plan to take a deep breath, accept things that aren’t necessarily under my control, and be the best mom I can be to our daughter. The next time you feel a little guilt about having a girl’s night out with friends or for not being able to volunteer as a chaperone for a school field trip because of work, I challenge you to do the same!

Guilty or Not Guilty-2

Melissa was born and raised right here in Iowa. Although she grew up in southwest Iowa (about as close to Missouri and Nebraska as you can get!), she has called eastern Iowa home for 15 years. She and her husband Eric live in North Liberty, along with their 4 year-old daughter Kennedy. Melissa attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her BA in Early Childhood Special Education and her MAE in K-6 Learning Disabilities. She currently teaches kindergarten for the Clear Creek Amana School District, where she has taught for 14 years. In her spare time, Melissa loves to be outside playing or working on projects in their yard, spending time with family and friends, and baking up goodies for her family. She also enjoys taking walks with their two dogs, plump beagle Lenny and shy dachshund-beagle mix Cooper. Life as a full-time working mommy keeps her very busy, but Melissa wouldn't have it any other way!


  1. Adoption is such a wonderful option! We were lucky to be able to do it both way-we have a biological daughter and ten years later we adopted our son who will be 18 next week! I think every mother feels guilty! I remember feeling exactly how you described it. But–I can honestly say that I feel I spent more QUALITY time with both of my children than my stay-at-home-mom friends. It’s a balancing act that. Feel ALL moms struggle with. Give your daughter an extra hug today as the grow up waaaaay to fast! Enjoy!!

  2. Thanks Jodi! I TOTALLY agree that every mommy feels guilt and yes, it truly is a balancing act. It took me awhile to adjust to the amount of guilt I was having, but now three years later I think I finally have a handle on it. It’s nice to know that other moms are feeling the same way and that it’s a natural thing for many women.

  3. Melissa great first blog..I too struggle with mommy guilt..I always wonder (never asked) if my mom struggled with it too. Or has it come with our generation?

  4. Hi Melissa,

    Thank you for sharing your story! We moved to Coralville from Chicago a year and 1/2 ago. We have a 3 year old and a 2 month old daughter that we adopted at birth and have very open adoptions with both of their birthmommas. If you ever want to get together to hang out and talk or have our daughters have a playdate, I’d love to meet up with you! Take care!

  5. Amber- I might have to take you up on that because we don’t know too many families that live in this area that have adopted. We know a lot of adoptive families, but none of them live around here or close enough to get together with. Always good to make another connection with someone who can relate!

    • We should definitely get together! In Chicago, we had/met lots of adoptive family friends but Iowa not so much. I always say it’s an “adoption desert” out here! It’s always nice to have someone that can relate to some of the adoption things we deal with. Email me and we can figure some time to hang out! 😉 [email protected]

  6. Melissa – I feel like you just wrote my exact experience – I was 34 when we adopted. I have taken Jodi’s approach and believe that I spend much more QUALITY time with my daughter.


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