Getting over Your Guilt
Letting go of your “shoulds” to create the life of your dreams.
I started my professional journey 14 years, two pant sizes and three kids ago. It might as well be a lifetime. The 22-year-old me was so many things: eager, driven, intelligent, excited, composed, polished and a little naive. I was ready to set the world on fire.
Today, thirtysomething-year-old me is often wondering: in a world where you can do anything, how do you decide what to do? The number one suggestion is follow your passion…but what if you have absolutely no idea what that is?
That’s the crossroads where I used to sit. What the woman in this photo (from 2019) found herself wondering.
I began writing this two years ago; before a global pandemic changed life as we knew it. I was (and still am) a full-time stay-at-home mom to my three young daughters. I was (and still am) a wife to a wonderful husband, my partner for the past 16 years. I was (and still am) an entrepreneur, just now with two businesses instead of one.
Rewind to 2008. It didn’t matter that I was only making $25,000 a year because that was just money; I was waking up every day, I was going to a job where I excelled, where I was respected; and I was working with people that I truly enjoyed and wanted to be like.
Fast forward to present-day-me. Living in a post-pandemic world, with a three-, five- and eight-year-old. Not only is my physical appearance different, but so much about my life is too, not to mention the adjectives I would use to describe myself.
Am I still driven? Intelligent? Excited? Composed? Polished? Maybe. But more than anything, there are many moments where I feel lost. Like I’ve lost sight of who I am and what my passions are, even if it was for the best reason ever…my kids.
We are beyond fortunate to afford being a single-income household. I also realize there are other parents who would love to be in my shoes, which honestly, only makes what I’m writing feel even more taboo.
I fully chose to walk away from a successful career in public relations to start a new chapter. And I have zero regrets. It made sense in so many ways and I’m grateful to experience all of the moments with my girls; big, small and everything in between.
Everyone tells you it isn’t easy to be home all day, every day (which I believe we all realized more than ever in 2020). I sincerely thought “it’ll be fine because I love my children more than anything else in the whole world.”
One day you wake up and start thinking:
“Maybe it’s not fine. Maybe the days are long and lonesome and I feel guilty for simply thinking that this isn’t enough, let alone saying it out loud for others to hear. And maybe I chose to be home with kids because I didn’t really know who I was anymore and what else to do with my life.”
You know what, though? It’s time to Let. That. Guilt. Go.
I didn’t feel brave enough to admit this for the longest time…for years. Like any season of life, especially parenting young kids, there are highs and lows. For the most part, I felt like I wasn’t thriving in my life; I was barely surviving.
Any type of parenting is difficult — working, stay-at-home, work-from-home — there doesn’t seem to be a perfect scenario. I continued to rationalize what was best for my kids and my husband, would in turn, be what was best for me, too.
Well, what I didn’t anticipate was the guilt. So much guilt over everything. I mostly struggled with not loving this new lifestyle. Yes, parts are great and I’ll never regret the time with my kids, but my silent guilt of wanting more slowly wore me down.
The need to feign fulfillment and joy was bolstering my guilt; if I could convince others I was fulfilled, then I could also convince myself. Until recently, I felt stuck because I lacked a passion outside of motherhood, a disparate purpose driving me forward.
My biggest revelation came when I realized, there isn’t one right answer. As humans, women, mothers, we don’t have to fit into one box. Corporate mom, carpool mom, somewhere in between… If we learned anything in 2020, it’s that fluidity and open-mindedness will bring resolutions.
In the age of the Internet and social media, we’re never truly alone in our feelings. If you look, there’s likely a community of people who are experiencing a similar version of your story. But how do you get real with each other and stop pretending life is anything short of wonderful, especially when your life isn’t really “bad” at all?
One night, when I couldn’t sleep due to extreme postpartum anxiety (which is another story), it came to me: I don’t need to have all the answers. I just need to admit that it’s okay to want more, and you can want more, too.
This does not make us selfish. This does not make us bad parents. Wanting more for your life doesn’t mean you’re not blessed beyond measure or ungrateful for what’s already in it.
It simply means that we know we’re destined to do great things. And that doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive to being physically with our children every day. We don’t have to sacrifice time with our families to support them. And we definitely don’t have to diminish our desires to the matrydom of motherhood.
During this middle of the night revelation, I also clearly saw one of my passions. It’s something that I’ve done before, has been there all along, but was cloaked under so many emotions (ahem, fear) that I’d lost sight of it for a long time.
That’s to write what I know and proudly declare it’s okay for women, moms, men, parents, anyone… to want more. What “more” is, it’s different for everybody and I hope you can figure out what yours is and how to get it and leave the guilt and shame behind.
It’s scary to publish your thoughts, fears and desires on the Internet. But it’s scarier waking up one day with regrets because you were too afraid to change something. Write your story, start the business, take the leap. That’s the only way you’ll know what’s on the other side.