Second Child: Now With Less Guilt
With the birth of my second daughter, I've realized something huge about myself - Less Mom Guilt!
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I’d heard of this illustrious mom guilt. I was too focused on the excitement of growing my family, though, to pay it too much attention. However, once Abby was born, all the guilt belonged to me. It came at me with full force. I was guilty that my body had somehow failed her, causing her to be born with vocal cord paralysis. I was guilty the first time I went out and left her at home. I was guilty that I couldn’t produce enough breast milk, and subsequently waved the white flag when she was 7 months old. I was guilty when I had gotten so used to her coughing with colds after she got RSV, that I dismissed what ended up being bronchitis.
As Abby got older, though, the guilt subsided. I knew that it was a natural feeling and something I shouldn’t obsess or fret over. It was only increasing my anxiety as a parent and was no good for myself, nor my family to feel this way. And mostly, I began to understand the importance of making time for me and learning to forgive myself when I made mistakes as a parent.
With a second child, I’ve realized that Abby really put me through my paces. She taught me so much about myself as a parent and that undying love will always reign over any sort of missteps I might make as a parent. She will forgive when I’ve done something wrong, and love me even more when I utter the words , “I’m sorry,” to her. And she also taught me that she won’t forget who I am when I spend time away from her. No matter if it’s a day away at work, or a couple hours of shopping solo, she greets me with excitement and open arms, “Mommy!”
As I’ve transitioned into this life with two children, the learning curve isn’t as steep. I feel less anxiety and guilt over the choices I make as a parent.
There weren’t any trepidations the first time I left Olive at home. Having my husband give her a bottle around 2.5 weeks so I could have some time to myself at the grocery store was fine by me.
Putting Olive in her bouncy chair so I could have some one on one time with big sister didn’t leave me guilt-laden.
Asking my mom to come over and watch Olive so I could take Abby out for a mommy and me date for some fro-yo didn’t cause me grief that the newborn wasn’t able to snuggle with me.
Knowing that it’s impossible to give both of my girls my undivided attention helps me to not have shame over my parenting choices.
Dropping both of the girls off at my mom’s place so I can get a quick workout in doesn’t cause me to feel like I’m in the throngs of guilt.
Pumping for a missed feeding in the middle of the day so I can take the big kid to the movies and leave the little one at home, doesn’t leave me feeling sorrow.
And as time has passed since Olive joined our family, I’ve learned to let go of all those guilty feelings of not being able to spend as much time with my first born as I used to be able to do.
And as I’m gearing up to go back to work full-time, I know that I’ll be OK. I know that I won’t repeat what happened once I returned after having my older daughter – walking into the front office of my school, my eyes meeting a co-worker’s eyes, and sobbing uncontrollably that I wasn’t with my baby girl. Of course I’ll be sad and miss Olive, and all the extra time I’ve gotten to spend with Abby too, but I know it’s for the best. No guilt to see when momma is happy in her profession, and those greetings from my girls when I walk through the door to look forward to will keep the working momma guilt at bay.
Guilt is a natural emotion, and as a parent I’ve felt it with such force. However, the more I grown as a mom and begin to feel less insecure about the choices I make, and the mistakes I make, the less of this emotion I feel. Or rather, the less I let it hang around and consume my brain. Both of my girls have taught me that and I will forever be indebted to them for it.
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