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.
Now 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.
The 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!