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How I Learned To Cope With Working Mom Guilt

I've tried to give myself grace and time, the same advice I'd give to any new working mom. The best way I've found to combat guilt has been to cultivate balance.
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A 3 years old boy in his bed with his mom
A 3 years old boy in his bed with his mom

Sometimes, on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one. - author unknown

Music fills every corner of my memories. Having a career as a songwriter has been my life's ultimate dream. Who cared about the years spent waiting, working overtime, hoping against the odds for that one song that would change everything? I was all in. Then, right smack in the middle of the trenches of my dream, he came along. My son. That first hour he spent laying on my chest, I swear the air was so thick with magic you could've touched it. Suddenly I found myself dreaming something entirely new -- balance. Yes, to write songs I'm proud of that I hope will resonate with others. Yes, also, to be the best mother I could be for him. And the order my heart put these two dreams in isn't surprising.

I anticipated on some level the struggle to balance writing songs and performing at shows with changing diapers and 3 a.m. feedings, so I never felt blindsided, even when at times I felt overwhelmed. What I never anticipated was the guilt - that dreaded, nagging, awful feeling I never expected to come along with the unfathomably deep, unconditional love I instantly felt for him. Guilt for leaving in the morning, guilt every time I enjoyed myself at work, guilt when I was pumping in the bathroom knowing he was eating at home without me, guilt for never incorporating cloth diapers into our routine, guilt for missing first words, first steps. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.

It is not easy to leave all that at the door and come into work fresh and ready to create. I had to dig deep, and I still do many days. Dig down into myself past the proud new mama bear with the endless list of worries to that girl who still loves to create meaning through words and melody. I can't go to those distant parts of my imagination as easily, but the more I work at it, the more I find that old love again. I love crafting a soundtrack to my feelings. I love finding ways to tell others' stories. Do I love it like I love being his mama? There's no competition. But who said it has to be an either/or?

I give it up to every mama out there that has figured out the work/home/guilt thing. I've tried to give myself grace and time, the same advice I'd give to any new working mom. The best way I've found to combat guilt has been to cultivate balance. I say yes to those opportunities that stoke creativity and bring joy. Learning to say no has not been as easy, but I've found freedom in placing priority on spending time with my son, and I haven't regretted it. As the months have gone on I've practiced breathing out the guilt and breathing in whatever present moment I'm in - at work or home. I'm a better mom for giving myself the time to be creative and do what I've loved my whole life. And I'm a better songwriter for carving out a schedule that balances the old dream with the new. I'm learning that I don't want to have it all, I just want to love what I have, and maybe that's not so far off from the dream I've always had.