No Mommy Guilt

I can easily count how many times I’ve left my kids to go out of town. Once it was to attend a funeral and I was gone for two days. Three years later, after a lot of pressure from our families and reluctance on my part, the hubby and I took a 2-night road trip to Seattle. At that time, I didn’t feel ready to leave them but I did. Even though it was great to have a little kid-free time and some alone time with my husband, I still felt bad for leaving them and a bit stressed out. That was five months ago.

Then last week, for the first time ever, I left EVERYONE behind to take a trip that was just for me! I went to my first ever blogging conference in San Jose for 5 whole nights!! Before leaving, I was feeling a whole lot of emotions and excitement wasn’t one of them.

I was feeling guilty, that dreaded ‘Mommy Guilt,’ for leaving the kids behind for so long, because technically I only needed to be gone for three nights.

I was also feeling separation anxiety because they’d never been without me for so long. Maybe it had a little bit to do with my personality trait of what others may like to call ‘a control freak.’ I mean I’m always in the know of what they’re doing, where they’re going, making sure they’re not eating junk food, getting enough sleep and not watching too much TV. With me out of the picture, it was a free-for-all with sleepovers and everything else I couldn’t control while in another country.

It didn’t help when we were at the airport and I was leaving, that my eldest got sad and teary-eyed. It was so gut-wrenching seeing my mom carry him off while I was in the middle of a long line-up to get through security and i couldn’t even comfort him. But, I made it to San Jose. We video chatted that night and the kids asked me why I left and why they couldn’t come with me, but other than that, they were fine.

video chat

The next morning I woke up and my friend and roommate Crystal, from Sew Creative Blog, and I spent the day exploring the city, shopping and meeting new friends for dinner.

blogger friends collage

And you know the amazing thing? I didn’t feel bad.There was not guilt, no separation anxiety , nothing. I realized that this was something I needed. Time away. Time for myself. Time to do nothing and to relax. As mother’s we’re always on the go, for our family, our work, the home. We put our needs on the side and eventually it does catch up. I was happy to be on my own for a little while and there was really nothing to feel guilty about and here’s why: I know I’m a good mom. I’m not perfect, far from it. But I am there for my kids. I read to them, I play  with them, I give them love, I make food for them, I take them to activities, I read with them, we take walks, we ride our bikes, we do crafts, I take them on scavenger hunts, the list is endless. Somehow in doing all this amazing stuff for my kids, I get a little lost. That’s why it’s okay as mothers and parents, to take the time for ourselves, without feeling guilty. Whether it’s a small thing like getting a haircut or a pedicure or taking a week long vacation with your hubby or girlfriends, it’s important to take care of ourselves. It reminds us of who we were before having children and it even makes us better parents.

When I got back to Vancouver on Sunday morning I felt tired from a busy trip, but refreshed and I was so excited to see the kids!! Five days with no hugs and kisses was a long time 🙂 When I got to the car and opened the door the kids were happy. They had been just fine without me and had learned to let someone else put them to bed and run to someone else if they needed something. They also learned that even if Mommy goes away for a little while, whether its for one hour or one week, there are other people to count on. And of course, she will always come back.

24 thoughts on “No Mommy Guilt

  1. I believe that under specific circumstances your allowed to go out of town without your children. It’s easier sometimes for you to travel without having to bring others along. I know how feeling guilty could affect your judgement for taking care of business. However, looking at the situation it could be consider a vacation! I know that missing someone could be rough, hopefully it’ll all be worth it.

  2. When my daughter was two months old my husband and I left her for four days with my parents. We were at the London Olympics and my parents were looking forward to getting her to themselves for those days. I didn’t feel guilty because they don’t get to see her much and I knew how excited they were about it. Both our parents live too far away to see her on a daily basis so they need that time with her. Now, every now and then, we’ll leave her with one set of parents for a night or two. It gives us the time we need together (or sometimes alone) and gives them their time with their granddaughter. But I wouldn’t leave her with anyone else.

    1. You’re right Alexandria, there really is a comfort in leaving the kids with their grandparents because you know that none else is going to love and protect them more!

  3. I’m so glad Salma. Good for you. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip. We need to getaway from everything. I had a chance to do that a few weekends ago and I felt like a new woman. I have more patience with my son and I am able to enjoy being with him more.

    Glad you had a good time and a chance to getaway.


    1. Thanks so much Agi, it was actually so great getting a break from everything and just enjoying time alone. And you’re right, absence does make the heart grow fonder!

  4. Great story! We have traveled some of the same highways. I recently moved from Seattle and now live in the San Jose area, what a coincident. I agree with you that it is important for parents to take that needed break and re-energize from time to time. There is nothing to feel guilty about.

    Actually I think it is even healthy for children and will assist with separation anxiety when parents spend some time away. I am sure you are a great mom and the bond you seem to have with your kids cannot be broken. Do not feel guilty. You still have to live life. It is all about balance. Good for you!

  5. Great post and I can relate from WAY back when my four kids (now all young adults) were young. When you are a wife, mom, and homemaker, it seems so strange to leave the family behind — yet we all need a break now and then!

    The event you attended sounds like it was so much fun! I hope you will share more about it!

  6. You are far from neglectful. You have to maintain your identify as someone more than a mother – one day your children will be grown, after all. (I’m in that part of life). Want to share a little story with you. My aunt and uncle had three children and were excellent, involved parents. When I was raising my son (by that time their children were grown) they shared a little secret with me. They had a standing sitter when the children were young. Once a month they would go on an overnight – just the two of them. And their children? They are all professionals, all well adjusted. So, I agree. Keep that balance going!

    1. Thanks you for sharing your aunt and uncle’s story Alana. That’s actually a fabulous plan, to help parents keep something for themselves and focus time on their relationship.

  7. I’m so glad that you went and that we got to spend 5 whole days together. I had such a great time with you. I think sometimes it’s good to get away, get a fresh perspective and let them miss you and you miss them.

    One of my takeaways from the conference was the line “She did both”. A presenter said that if someone asked her daughter about her that she hopes that’s what she would say. We are so much more than just mothers. Doing things like this conference to further ourselves is fantastic for our daughters.

    XO- C

    1. I’m really glad too and you were such a wonderful friend and roommate. And yes, by doing both, we can set a great example for our children!

  8. Love this post! We all feel ‘Mommy Guilt’ and that is what sometimes keeps us from really doing the things that we love and most of all giving us a break from parenting so that we can return and be refreshed and rejuvenated.
    I feel so lucky to have met you and look forward to more blogging conferences together soon!

    1. Mommy Guilt really is universal but you’re right, getting a break is so important as a parent.
      I was really happy to meet you too and can’t wait to connect again soon!

  9. Absolutely! You needed it, and you deserved it! We all do now and then. So glad to see you had fun. I will be doing this in January and I’m looking forward to it.

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