Motherhood equals guilt. I understood that the moment I had my first child, almost 11 years ago. I instantly worried I wouldn’t be good enough for this little baby boy I was holding for the very first time, but whom I already loved more than anyone. Was I ready for the enormous responsibility of raising such an amazing human being? In some ways I thought not. But I would have given my life to save his, and I surrendered to just doing my best.
My husband and I took him home and I figured things out as we went along. I hadn’t been around babies before so I didn’t even know how to change a diaper, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought. None of it was as hard as I thought, until our daughter, Daisy, came along. Sam was almost three by then and the experience was different this time, with post partum depression playing a role.
Low in energy and spirits, I had a tougher time with my second child and that’s when the real guilt set in. With two beautiful, healthy children, what could I possibly feel down about?
Wanting to be the best mother I could, I had quit my well-paying job to be with my children full time. The catch was that I needed to bring in an income to pay our bills and help with our mortgage payments.
So I did what no one with post partum depression should ever do, I opened up my own daycare and surrounded myself with little ones. With three of them still in diapers and four others aged three, the job was the hardest I’ve ever had in my life.
I ran my own daycare for a year and a half, and even though I hid it well, my depression went from bad to worse. That’s when I packed it in, got a different job and put my kids in a great daycare where I knew they would be well taken care of.
Did I feel guilty? Yes. But I knew I was doing the right thing. I still do.
I recently received a lengthy letter from a reader asking me why I had kids if I was so bored by them and needed a career. She went on to illustrate her own experience as a mother and how she was there for her children and would make them fantastic birthday cakes rather than buying a big slab from the grocery store.
Believe me, I’ve been the cake-making mom in the past, but it just didn’t work for me. It’s certainly not because my kids bored me or because I loved them any less, it’s just because that’s not my thing.
Fitting into a mould that others think we should fit into does a disservice to us and our children. Judgments like hers should be dismissed.
If ever I give advice out to mothers, and I rarely do unless asked, it’s to trust their own instincts and do what’s best for them and their family. None of us is perfect and feeling guilty about it will only make it worse.
I know where my heart is, and it’s with two amazing human beings named Sam and Daisy, whom I find the opposite of boring.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, my mother-in-law and all the mothers out there who are doing their best. Motherhood shouldn’t equal guilt.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. You can contact her at loriwelbourne.com