Written by: Bushra Nadwi
It’s 3 a.m. and I see you hunched over your sleeping baby of 7 months, watching her innocent face, lovingly taking in the way she’s tucked in in her cheery blanket, her soft breathing, the slight pout, and drooping cheeks.
A picture of serenity and calm.
I also see what rages in your heart in that moment. Swirling wildly and filling the deep cavity of your chest, are your feelings of love, overwhelm, fear, and profound ache. They mesh together and press down on your soul, and you realize that it’s guilt.
When your precious little one wakes up in the morning, you wouldn’t be there. When she cries for milk, you wouldn’t be the one to feed her. When she falls, stumbling in her baby steps, you wouldn't be the one to comfort her.
You would be at work, pushing paper, chasing clients, and thinking of how to word your 4th follow-up email to that one client who has conveniently ignored the final invoice, and your boss is not too happy about it. Meanwhile, your baby, that little piece of your heart that lives outside your body, will be at the daycare, a sweet yet strange person tending to her needs. That guilt creeps in every time you need to focus on work, on yourself, and just about every time you need to look away from her.
The dreaded, ever-present Mom Guilt.
Dear me, I wish I could tell you what I know now. Your daughter has grown into a beautiful, wise, and resourceful person like you. Your work did not suffer, how else do you account for those two promotions? Unbeknownst to you, your guilt drove you to give your most. You did your best at home and at work. You spent weekends and evenings with your baby and were her go-to person for all the dribbles, stumbles, and snuggles.
You see, hidden under that creeping guilt that your baby was under someone else’s watch and care, there was a grounding sense of peace that she’s in good hands. You went full hilt, and both turned out just fine.
I wish I could tell you the one thing that really needed your attention-but didn’t- was you. I know now your heart is full and content, but you could’ve easily taken time out for yourself back then. Should have, in fact.
Spent on those shoes you wanted, gone out with your friends on that weekend trip.
Been kinder to yourself.
I so wish I could tell you that there was no need to worry so much over every missed meeting or every high reading on your baby’s thermometer. They were well taken care of; how could they not? They were your priority all along.
Your mom guilt drove you to move heaven and earth to optimize every living breathing moment for your baby and your work. You kept pouring without realizing that you ran on empty for long stretches of time.
The *only* thing you really needed to worry about was yourself.
To acknowledge that you have enough and more.
To accept that you grew beautifully as a person and a professional
But didn’t stop to celebrate the new highs you reached.
Nobody suffered as you did with the fatigue of your constant guilt. Though it served as your internal compass guiding you to perform better, I wish you would’ve clocked the signs that you were winning all along.
If I could go back to being you, for even a moment, I would celebrate.
Life, my work, my child, and above all, myself. For I -you, that is, were always enough.
Meet the Author
Freelance Copywriter for Empaths, Changemakers, and Trailblazers