I was lucky enough to have a night out with a dozen other moms this weekend. We’d all just spent the better part of two days working our butts off, organizing and running a large consignment sale. Our kids range from a few weeks old to double digits, with most in the two- to six-year-old category. We talked about a lot of things, but one discussion keeps resonating for me.
One mom declared “I miss my kids, but I don’t feel guilty being away.”
This weekend, I felt the same. In fact, I saw my kids for an hour that afternoon when I went home to change, so I wasn’t even missing them terribly. But it was one of the first times I can remember feeling that way in the last four years.
My first baby was breastfed for 14 months. I still found moments to go out and spend time alone or with my husband. But there was always a twinge of sadness mixed in; one or two parts missing her, one or two parts guilt knowing how attached she was, both emotionally and physically.
When our twins arrived, those feelings became more complicated and it became logistically much harder to leave them for a night out. So this was the first time in two years I’ve managed to make it to the post-sale outing. Always before it was a mix of things holding me back: sheer exhaustion, the desire to cuddle my kids and husband, guilt that my kids were missing me, and guilt that my husband was dealing with all three for extended lengths of time (even if it’s what I do most days).
I’m sure there will be times I feel guilty again, because that’s who I am, but it felt wonderful to be out without any of those emotions clouding the fun.
Getting to this point – going out without the guilt – comes easy to some people. And that’s great for them. But some of us take a little longer. For me, it came as a combination of factors. My kids aren’t babies anymore; no one is breastfeeding, no one turns solely for me when upset, no one needs constant attention through the day. I’m also a work-at-home-mom now, so I see my kids a lot. And I know I’m a happier, more patient and attentive mom and wife when I’ve spent time away, laughing until my face hurts.
For all the moms who don’t feel guilty leaving home for a bit — you’re not alone.
For all the moms who do feel guilty — you’ve also got company, and hope that the feeling can go away. Look closely at your emotions: missing your family is different than feeling guilty you’re spending time away. Don’t weigh yourself down with unnecessary guilt. Get out and laugh. It truly is the best medicine.