Nanny Guilt

Dear Is This Normal,

My husband and I both have demanding jobs. One might say mine is more demanding, with off-hours calls to other continents, international travel, and a higher intensity work environment. Yet, our nanny, whom we generally adore, assumes I will be the one to plan birthday parties, bow out of work to attend dance class, be the primary decision maker on all questions related to our daughters, take the girls to the doctor….you get it. 

Somehow my brain’s first response to these scenarios is guilt (of course) because, no, I can’t skip my five calls this morning to go to story time with them, and no, I don’t plan on throwing a Pinterest-inspired birthday bash for my toddler. I don’t have the time or energy! Is it normal that my nanny, who sees me running around like a madwoman to keep up with work and all the demands of parenting on a daily basis, treats me as if my job is an optional activity?

Signed, 

I Won’t Be Shamed for Being a Working Mom

Dear Working Mom,

UGH. Ok, I want to first say: GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF. I know this working mom thing isn’t easy, not by a long shot, so the fact that you’re doing it and succeeding at it deserves an immense amount of credit. I am also very intimately acquainted with the working mom guilt you speak of, and it’s the worst. Working moms, whether they work by choice or necessity, are doing what they need to do for themselves and their families. And rather than shame us for it, it’d be SUPER great if people could be more supportive and just worry about their own selves, yes? Yes. 

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about this nanny situation! This is really really indicative of a broader, societal problem where people assume that women—because we are women—will just automatically take the reins when it comes to parenting, home life, and anything kid-related. And that is not the case in so many families, especially modern families with at least one working parent. We went in on those kids 50/50, so dammit, we’re splitting the work. 

I don’t think your nanny means any harm by it, but sadly, I would say it’s normal to assume that the mother will be the one to drop what she’s doing to tend to the kids, or plan the parties, or call out sick when their kid is sick. Perhaps your nanny has some deeply-held beliefs about motherhood and working moms, and has a hard time separating that from the work she does for your family. Or perhaps, she just assumes that (again) because you’re a mom, this stuff falls under your umbrella. All things considered, if this is the only issue you have with her, you may be inclined to let it slide. But that doesn’t mean you and your husband shouldn’t address it with her.

If you and your husband are on the same page as far as handling kid stuff as it comes up, then it’s time to have a sit down with your nanny and get her on the same page, too. Is it possible that she just doesn’t know that he can do a lot of the stuff she assumes you should do? Because he can! He can totally take the girls to dance (dance dads are awesome), and he can 100% take them to doctor’s appointments. 

It might be time to gently remind your nanny that your daughters have two capable, involved parents, and that rather than single you out for this kind of stuff, she should start alerting BOTH of you and letting you guys hash out the details. Some days, you will be the one around to go to story time. But their dad will be around on some days, too, and not only is it burdensome on you to put it all on your plate, it’s actually kind of a slight to dad that she doesn’t even consider him in these situations.

Finally, I want to just say: screw the working mom guilt. Screw it! Don’t feel guilty for working, for enjoying your work, or for putting a lot of yourself into your work. There’s nothing shameful about providing for your family, and there’s nothing shameful about enjoying your job. You’re juggling a demanding job while raising your kids and you should be incredibly proud of that. It’s not easy, not by a long shot, but if it’s worth it to you, then it’s exactly what you should be doing.

No Shame in Our Game,

Is This Normal

My Baby Hasn’t Pooped In 30 Days

Dear Is This Normal,

How normal is baby constipation? I feel like my baby isn’t pooping as regularly as she should. I’m concerned because she hasn’t pooped in 30 days. She’s almost 7 months old and was exclusively breast-fed. About a month ago we introduced solids for the first time. She doesn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort, but how long is too long to go without pooping?

Signed,

All Stopped Up

Dear Stopped Up,

Ugh, the poop struggle is REAL, Mama. If they’re not blowing out their diapers all over their car seats or on our new bedsheets, they’re not pooping at all! 

Baby’s tummies are an enigma and just when you think you’ve got it figured out they do a complete 180 and you’re left holding the bag (not filled, in this case). Thankfully, most baby constipation isn’t a major cause for concern, although it can certainly be stressful for us as parents. Let’s break down this back-up and see if we can’t get things moving again.

There really is no hard and fast rule about what constitutes constipation in babies. Like everything to do with babies, every baby tummy and poop schedule is going to be different. Because it’s been more than a couple of weeks, my advice to you would be to give your pediatrician a call if you haven’t already (you probably have). I know you said she didn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort, but you want to make sure everything is ok, you know? 

Your pediatrician will probably suggest a quick fix like a glycerin suppository to get the pipes cleared, so to speak. Not something you want to use on a regular basis if you can avoid it, but it works fast (seriously, maybe just set her down on a trash bag to catch the overflow). From there you can focus on how to prevent constipation in the future.

In your case, it sounds like the introduction of solids may have just thrown her insides for a bit of a loop. Baby constipation is TOTALLY normal. And really, really common, especially after introducing solids.  Starting solids is a fun stage, but it can definitely bring some things to a screeching halt! 

Luckily for you both, with a little prep, you can make this a thing of the past. The first step is to consider the foods she’s eating now. Lots of popular baby foods can cause constipation like bananas, rice cereals, and other foods that are low in fiber. 

Make sure she’s getting plenty of dark leafy greens and foods like pears, plums, peaches, and prunes. If your ped has given you the green light for water in a sippy, make sure to offer sips throughout the day. And as a final line of defense, consider using a poop-promoting supplement like Little Spoon’s Poopie Power Booster. This little stick of awesome powder is packed with prebiotics, probiotics, and prune powder to help get that baby’s tummy back on track.

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to know so much about poop. But here I am! And I hope the lessons I’ve learned over the years can help you and your little babe. And we thought parenting was unglamorous. I hope she clears up quick, mama! 

Your Resident Excrement Expert,

Is This Normal

I’m Having Difficulty Getting Pregnant With My Second Child

Dear Is This Normal, 

My husband and I experienced a miscarriage before we got pregnant with my first baby. It was incredibly heartbreaking at the time, no doubt, but we stayed optimistic. It felt like we were experiencing something so many go through, it felt like it was a part of the process. If that makes sense? Now though, we’ve been trying for over two years to get pregnant with our second. We’ve had multiple miscarriages, we’re working with our doctor, but nothing seems to be sticking. I never imagined having only one child. I feel guilty that I don’t think that’s enough…especially knowing so many people struggle to have any family at all. Is this normal? How do I grapple with the fact that I may never get pregnant again?

From, 

Trying for Number Two

Dear Trying for Number Two,

Oh mama, I am wrapping you in a virtual hug right now. Infertility is such a hard road to travel, and it sounds like you and your husband have already been through so much. The feelings you’ve described— heartbreak, optimism, and guilt—are all so totally normal on this journey. A lot of people brush off second child infertility as somehow less important or less difficult, since “you already have a child.” 

I have absolutely no doubt that you are beyond grateful for your little one. I sympathize with you. But I can’t stress this enough: you have nothing to feel guilty about. It’s hard to come to terms with things not working out the way we’d hoped and planned. Processing the way your family is different than what you’ve always imagined takes time, so be gentle with yourself during this process. 

I’m happy to hear that you’re working with your medical team to pinpoint the causes of secondary infertility, and I’m crossing all my crossables that you get some answers and good news so soon! In the meantime, as important as it is to deal with the medical side of things, it’s equally important to take the same care with the mental and emotional stuff you’re going through. In that vein, please consider this advice from reproductive psychologist Elana Dumont, a maternal wellness provider at Robyn, an incredible resource for parents on this journey. 

ANSWER FROM EXPERT:

“My heart goes out to you for all that you’ve endured thus far.  Unfortunately miscarriage, and the grief and disappointment that comes with it, is quite common and can be emotionally devastating regardless of where you are in your family planning. Please know that your feelings are valid. The sadness you feel fits your personal journey. These struggles aren’t more or less valid because of how many children you have or do not have. You identified that during your first time around miscarriage was “part of the process.” This, too, is part of your family’s journey. 

It can often feel like infertility is a full time job. Daily injections, early morning doctor’s appointments, and managing the financial burden of it all. Add on the stress of navigating the needs of a small child? You’re going through a lot right now. 

The reality is, we cannot control our futures. Envisioning our goals and plans can be helpful in the early stages, but when we hold on too tightly to our expectations it can leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and disappointed. It can be hard to value the life you’re living when your grieving the life you never got to lead. 

So what can you do? 

You’re grieving right now. Which means you have to do the hardest thing in the world. Keep going. Keep feeling. It sounds like, on the physical end, you’re taking care of what you can. So, focus on the emotional and spiritual end. No need to aim too big. Take a few minutes every day to practice accepting that things might not work out. Try to notice and appreciate the small things. Get a babysitter, have a date night with your partner, spend special time with your child, book a massage. Do not be afraid to ask for extra help. Infertility support groups can provide a space to vocalize and process your feelings. Feeling empathy for others who are in your situation can be a helpful way to learn to have empathy for yourself. Remember, no one can magically heal themselves overnight. We have to start small first.”

Elana Dumont, reproductive psychologist and a Robyn maternal wellness provider.

About Robyn: 
Robyn is a partner in your unique journey to parenthood, 
providing access to integrative maternal wellness tools 
 and resources while offering a community of support 
where you can share, learn, and grow.

Why Do I Do Everything For My Baby

Hi Is This Normal,

My baby girl is sick. We haven’t slept in two nights, I can’t get my work done. I hate being a woman in this society it’s just not fair. It’s not fair for woman to work the first year of a kids life and it’s a joke our country it’s a f***king joke. My husband goes to work all day with no guilt bc he’s a man nothing else is expected of him. Is it normal to feel this way?

“Co” Parenting

Dear “Co” Parenting,

You are absolutely right, mama, and what you’re feeling is totally normal and valid. It’s NOT fair. And it is a f**king joke. Motherhood is a glorious, wondrous thing, But it’s also incredibly hard. Mentally, physically, emotionally – it’s heavy. And one of the reasons it’s so heavy on our shoulders is because we’re carrying most of the weight. It’s like when a toddler wants to help move something heavy and uses their little fingers to gently grasp a corner of the object, while we’re over here straining to keep it from crushing them. We’re being crushed under the weight of this massive responsibility, but hey, we’re women! It’s our job! Even though we also have jobs and lives and interests outside of motherhood! We’re somehow just supposed to magically balance it all, flawlessly and without complaint, because we’re women. And again, this is OUR job.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being the only one qualified to do this! Sure, we might have a biological advantage in some areas of parenting. But aside from actual pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding, there’s nothing we do that our male partners can’t do, too. It doesn’t take a uterus to change a diaper, or lactating breasts to get up in the middle of the night to soothe an infant. So why is the onus on us to make this all work? Did you know that when a baby arrives, a woman’s workload increases by about 21 hours, while a man’s only goes up by about 12.5 hours? The division of labor in the home is still really inequal, and more often than not, women are the ones who suffer.

It’s absolutely a societal problem. And while we may not be able to single-handedly change these gendered parenting roles, we can absolutely start small with changes in our own homes. You don’t mention how much your husband contributes at home, but it seems clear that he benefits from this inequity. He goes to bed, sleeps all night, wakes up, and goes to work! He doesn’t have to be up all night with a sick baby and still somehow manage to perform the next day. Society may not expect more from him, but you as his partner should ABSOLUTELY expect more. It’s time to level the playing field at home, and start equalizing the division of labor between the two of you. It’s not 1950 anymore – more women are working out of the home, yet are still handling the bulk of the child care. We may be superheroes, but we are not superhuman, and our partners need to step TF up. And maybe your circumstances are such that it can’t be 50/50, that’s fine! At the very least, him understanding that the current set-up is not working for you and that you are struggling is the first step in finding a scenario that works for you both.

Putting the “Co” Back in Co-Parenting,

Is This Normal

What do I do about my child’s epic TEMPER TANTRUMS?

Hi Is This Normal,

My one year old is usually pretty chill except that he YELLS AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS whenever he wants something or is hungry. It sounds like a screeching pterodactyl or, as my sister in law said (she also has a one year old, who NEVER yells), he sounds like cat whose tail just got stepped on. When he’s frustrated, when he’s hungry, when he’s tired. We have a 4 year old as well and it’s been very frustrating. He’s been doing this since maybe 7 or 8 months. Is this normal?

Temper Tantrum

Dear Temper Tantrum,

You know that scene in Forrest Gump, when Forrest compares life to a box of chocolates? “You never know what you’re gonna get.” He may as well have been talking about parenting, to be honest. You have one kid, and think you’ve got this figured out, more or less. Then you have another kid, and they are the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of your first kid, and it’s like doing it the first time all over again. I went into parenting my second feeling a little too confident, and ended up looking like a total noob when my youngest was like, “Oh, none of that is going to work for me, thanks.” Just one of the many joys of parenting that leave us wanting to pull our hair out, it’s fine!

Your toddler’s tantrums are totally normal. Like, one of the most normal things about raising a toddler. It’s pretty much a developmental milestone, even if some toddlers are a bit more, uh, vocal than others. At a year old, your little guy’s brain is taking in TONS of information and new stuff and trying to process it. At the same time, his language and communication skills haven’t yet caught up to all this cool stuff he’s learning and doing and feeling! And when you think about it, that is incredibly frustrating. This is how he knows how to communicate at the moment. It’s not ideal, I know, but he will grow out of it! The great thing about kids this age is that they seem to develop new skills every single day. He won’t be shrieking like a pterodactyl at this first grade teacher, so at least there’s that, right?

But it sucks. I get it! It sucks so much. No one likes to be screamed at all the damn time, even if the screamer is adorable and small. While you wait for your little guy to grow out of this phase (at least somewhat, tantrums can last into years 2 and 3), there are some things you can do to try to stave them off or manage them. It sounds like you know his triggers pretty well – hunger, fatigue, and frustration. So try to avoid letting him get to the point of tantrum. Stick to a meal and snack and sleep schedule – being in a more controlled environment will help him feel more secure. Try to limit overstimulation, especially around times you know he’s usually hungry or tired. Let him explore his surroundings more (safely, of course!); giving him a bit of freedom and independence can help with the frustration he feels. And work with him on other ways to communicate, with small words or even sign language he can use to let you know what he needs or wants.

When he has a tantrum, don’t match him in volume. Speak to him calmly and quietly, in almost a whisper. In order to hear you, he’ll quiet down. Try to distract him at the onset of a tantrum, with a game or laughter. The idea is redirect his emotions from frustrated to happy or excited. Wrap him up in a big ol’ hug and rock him when he’s losing it, your touch and calming presence can be so soothing! Try not to give in to his demands (no matter how loud he screams, he doesn’t get a treat before dinner and he doesn’t get to stand on the counter).  If you’re getting too frustrated during one of his tantrums, then make sure he’s safe and remove yourself from the situation and take a breather. Toddler tantrums are all part of the process, and he will grow out of them! Right now, you’ve got to just get through them the best you can. And maybe invest in a good pair of earplugs for you and your family in the meantime.

Don’t Let the Tiny Man Get You Down,

Is This Normal



Where oh where does our mojo go?

Hi Is This Normal, 

My baby is 10 months old (I also have a 3 year old). I have no interest in anything sexual with my husband and literally cringe sometimes at the thought of

Where oh where does our mojo go?! I’m pretty convinced it’s off relaxing somewhere with all the lost socks and misplaced tupperware lids. Probably lounging around in a hammock, having a cocktail, just enjoying this new season of life. But don’t worry. You’re not the only one searching for your mojo. All of our mom-libidos occasionally need a vacay, too.  Even sex drives need time off, I suppose. Though it’d sure be nice if they came back, right?

 

Postpartum dry spells are totally, 100% normal. A lot of women experience a dip in their sex drive after having a baby, and it’s not uncommon to need some time to get back in the saddle. The whys? So many. Postpartum recovery, hormonal fluctuations, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation,exhaustion, stress, you name it. Oftentimes there’s a shift in your immediate priorities. You may feel cleared for sex in the physical sense, but that doesn’t mean that you’re emotionally or mentally ready to dive back in. And that’s OK! More than OK, it’s so, so normal.

 

My biggest piece of advice for you is to be patient. Give yourself the time. Don’t let guilt push you into something you’re not ready for, OK? Be open with your partner, and communicate how you’re feeling. We all know they’re probably internalizing this as a reflection of themselves, so make sure to amp up your communication game! Let them know what’s happening to alleviate any burgeoning complexes. As your partner they can help support you through this spell. Intimacy comes from more than just sex, and being open and honest with your boo about how you’re feeling can make you feel closer and help you work together to get you back in the game.

 

As far as getting “that feeling” back, start small. That feeling is about more than the physical act of sex. It’s about connection and intimacy and desire. We get so bogged down with the day-to-day grind of parenthood that it’s easy to lose track of other, equally important relationships in our lives. Put the kids to bed, turn the lights down, and snuggle on the couch for a movie. No funny business, just closeness. Hold hands, lean into each other, and relax. Don’t talk about the kids or work or daycare. Check out of being co-parents, and check in with each other as partners. Especially with a new baby it’s (unfortunately) easy to lose touch with the parts of ourselves and each other that made us fall in love in the first place.

 

Make sure you’re giving yourself the time and attention YOU need, too. We can be such givers in this life stage—worrying about the needs of our children, our partners, our jobs, our households. But hello, mama! You’re the glue holding it all together. You can’t expect to meet everyone’s needs at all times while neglecting your own! Whatever that “me” time looks like, prioritize it.

 

Take heart, mama. This vacation won’t be forever. Your struggles are normal. This is normal. Give your body and mind time to get back on track, and in the meantime cut yourself some slack! When your libido finally gets back from its extended vacation, you’ll be glad you did.

A Mama Who Got Her Groove Back,

Is This Normal

I feel like I’m failing at the juggle of it all. How do I figure this sh*t out?

Hi Is This Normal,

It’s been over a year since I had my daughter and probably 6ish months since I’m back at work full time. Between raising her, managing all the life things (keeping the house together, paying our bills, finding time to get a hair cut, eating decently, yada yada yada) and of course, staying on top of work – I am so beyond stressed i can’t even see straight. I’m so exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated every day and I don’t know how to get out of this headspace, prioritize and “be in the moment” anywhere. I feel like I’m failing at the juggle of it all. I don’t know how to find the light at the end of this tunnel. I don’t get how to find time for me, my partner, my daughter – where I can actually be present and not make constant checklists in my mind.

So, is this normal? And how do I do this?

Stress Mess

 

Dear Stress Mess,

Not only is this normal, you’ve just described basically every working mama in the history of motherhood! This idea that we can somehow “do it all” and do it effortlessly and without help is (in my humble, working mom opinion) one of the most damaging ideas foisted upon us in … ever? Let’s go with ever. I just want to give you a big hug and help you start checking items off that To Do list I know is a mile long, because I know exactly how you feel. We ALL know how you feel.

Motherhood is so freaking hard, and it’s compounded when you add a job to the mix. Of course you want to be the best mother in the world, while also being the most valued and valuable employee, and the best wife, and have a spotless house and work out four days a week and make homemade meals for your family every single night and do it all with a smile. But you’re one person, mama. One very busy, overworked, tired mama. I can tell you one thing: you are not failing. You are doing the hardest job in the world, and you’re doing it while also juggling a million other things. I promise you, your little girl doesn’t see a frazzled, stressed-out mom – she just sees the mama she loves, there as she always is, doing what she does best.

But you are right: it is SO STRESSFUL. And so hard. This feeling of being overwhelmed by all of your responsibilities yet still somehow not doing any of them well is the worst feeling. You seem to know where your priorities are: you, your daughter, and your partner. Now, you need to sit down and start re-prioritizing everything else. Because here’s the thing: you are Wonder Woman, but even Wonder Woman needs help. Even Wonder Woman has the Justice League to back her up (gosh I love metaphors). As much as we want to do it all ourselves, we need help. You know the saying, “It takes a village”? I realized a year or two into motherhood that the village isn’t just for our kids. It’s for us, too. We need the help and support of those around us, to be the best US we can be. You don’t mention how involved your partner is, but it might be time to have the Jesus Take the Wheel conversation with them, to get them on your page. Figure out what you can handle (and by handle, I don’t mean what you can do while sacrificing your own mental health, but actually handle), and move everything else off your plate. It’s going to require you to relinquish some control, which is hard for a lot of people (hi, it’s me!). But asking for help can be so incredibly empowering, and it’s going to give you some of your time and sanity back. And a happy healthy mama is the best mama, regardless of how many balls she can keep in the air. There is light at the end of your tunnel, but right now, you might need someone to hold your flashlight while you journey toward it.

Your Fellow Working Mom in Arms,

Is This Normal

Will I ever stop peeing my pants?

Hi Is This Normal,

Hello yes, I’d just like to know if there’s honestly any chance I’ll stop peeing in my pants every day? Because this seems to be my destiny now and it’s fairly terrifying. Am I resolved to a life of panty liners and dirty underwear? My doctor seems to be pretty lax about it unless I want to do physical therapy which is LOL considering my schedule and budget.

Needless to say, I’m not thrilled about the situation…

Thanks,

No Longer Potty Trained

 

Hi there No Longer Potty Trained,

Mama, I hear you and I salute you with my free hand (you know, the one not currently cupping my nethers to keep the pee in). There is a whole lot about postpartum recovery that, for some reason, people just … don’t talk about? Sure, you hear all about the sleepless nights and chafed nipples and stretch marks. But there’s a dark underbelly of postpartum recovery and motherhood that is still very taboo, and people are downright embarrassed to talk about it. Luckily for you, there’s no shame in my game!

Short answer: this is TOTALLY normal. Postpartum urinary incontinence is not only normal, it’s shockingly common. I bet if you asked all your mom friends about unintended leakage, a solid 90% of them would have some stories to tell. It’s estimated that approximately 7 million women in the US suffer from the condition after the birth of a child. It’s quite common during pregnancy, and more prevalent in women who deliver vaginally. Stress incontinence is the most common type of UC, occurring mostly in the third trimester (hi, heavy baby on your bladder), and lasting anywhere from a year or longer after your baby is born. When you deliver a baby, the muscles you use to control your bladder weaken, and hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can affect the elasticity of the ligaments in your pelvic floor. It sounds pretty gnarly, and you know what? It is! Because you literally grew and then brought earthside an actual human being like a warrior. Anywho, it’s a lot of medical jargon which translates to peeing your pants when you sneeze, basically. Let’s hear it for another one of those hidden pregnancy and childbirth side effects, hooray!

Now, to answer your question: you will stop peeing your pants one day. Maybe not tomorrow, but one day! I know how embarrassing it can be – trust me, there’s a stationary bike at my gym that I can’t even LOOK at without reliving the memory of an unfortunate spritz. Your pelvic floor and all those muscles and ligaments have been through the ringer, and it takes time and targeted exercise to get them back in pee-catching shape. It’s so unfortunate that your doctor seems desensitized to your discomfort. Sure, it’s not life-threatening, but it can make you feel like a real wet blanket (HEYO!). Physical therapy would be awesome, but panty liners are cheaper than a weekly co-pay and easier than finding an hour to yourself for your appointment. Luckily, there are some home exercises you can do to help strengthen that pelvic floor. Kegel exercises are kind of like … pilates for your privates. Try this one: lie down with your knees bent and feet slightly apart. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and urethra, like you’re trying to keep from tooting in line at Whole Foods (what, like I’m the only one?). But make sure you’re not using your abs – the contraction should all be in your vaginal area. Clench and release in time with your breathing; tighten on your inhale, controlled release on a slow exhale. Start by doing a few reps a day, and work your way up to 3-4 sets of 10, every other day.

I so wish I could tell you there was some magic pill or something that would shut the leaky faucet off. But your body did this crazy amazing thing, and it’s going to take time for it to put itself back together! Keep up with your Kegels, minimize your caffeine intake (it can make your bladder contract more easily), and in time, you’ll be able to laugh without crossing your legs.

Yours in Panty Liners,

Is This Normal

I don’t want to go back to my career.

Hi Is This Normal,

I’m a former CMO of a big ad agency, recently resigned board member of a major non-profit and mentor to countless young ambitious women all over my city. I’m proud to be the mama of two beautiful boys (twins) who are nearing their 1st birthday.

I have spent my entire life (aside from the last 20 months) building my network, climbing the corporate ladder and holding myself to an impossibly high standard as a female change-maker in the industry.

I don’t want to go back. I want to be my kids’ mom. That is all I want. Everything I used to care about and focus on and throw my energy at and stay up late for and work weekends for means TRULY NOTHING to me now.

And I can’t stand how much doubt people have in that. I’m so sick of the stigma, of having to explain myself, of the ‘wasted talent’ attitudes. I don’t want to feel like I’m sacrificing and yet, that’s all my community is making me feel.

How do I break the stigma and get people to see my decision as exciting, empowering and a new adventure? Or should I not even bother and just keep getting pummeled for reprioritizing my life?

Thanks,

CMNo.

 

Dear CMNo,

Here’s the deal. You could have written this very thing about me (ok, maybe not the CMO and board member part, but you get the idea). I did the career thing, I worked my butt off to climb that ladder, and I relished in my own success. I get it – you worked hard, and it paid off. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished! And now twins?! I have two kids, four years apart, and my brain actually breaks trying to picture doing it with two at the same time. Kudos to you forever. Xoxox.

But let’s start by being real with yourself: why do you think you’re worrying about what your friends and others think about this decision?

Here’s what I think: the people in your life aren’t putting nearly as much pressure on you as you’re putting on yourself. Sure, they might have some doubts about your decision to transition from your career to full-time motherhood. But is it possible that no one is really paying as much attention to it as you think? Self-doubt is a bitch, and it can sneak in even when we’re 100% sure we made the right decision. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re projecting their own self-doubts onto you, because you had the courage to actually make the leap. A quote from one of my mama role models Kristen Bell comes to mind here: “I find that the vast majority of people who are judging are just fearful or insecure.”

That being said, it is true: Women are often between a rock and a hard place when it comes to motherhood and their career. Go back to work and we’re bad moms. Walk away from our career and we’re throwing away our future. It’s a terribly unfair decision. How awesome would it be if people were just like, “Wow, you’re going to balance motherhood and your career, that is amazing!” Or, “Enjoy these years at home with your kids, when you’re ready to reenter the workforce you are going to absolutely kill it!”

You’ve probably noticed, being almost a year into this mom gig, that mothers are judged relentlessly, pretty much no matter what we do. We’re judged on what we feed our babies. We’re judged on how we get them to sleep. We are judged on sending our kids to daycare, not sending them to daycare, being too attached, not being attached enough. We also (maybe mostly?) judge ourselves. It feels like everyone is demanding absolute perfection from mothers, yet can’t seem to agree on who the perfect mom actually is! Sadly, I think this will always be the case, and we can either drive ourselves mad trying to win, or just say eff it and do what makes us and our kids happy. My advice to you: just say eff it. Your priorities changed when you became a mom, and there is not a single thing wrong with that. Are you walking away from a lot? Possibly. Are you walking toward something that could offer you more, just in a different way? Probs. And are you walking away forever? That’s entirely up to you.

Ignore the naysayers, and focus on making the most of this time (it goes so fast, I can’t even tell you). Something tells me you’ll have no problem reentering the workforce down the road, should you choose to do so. And if you do, think of all the nose-thumbing you’ll get to do at everyone who questioned your decision. Best of luck on this new adventure, you’re in for quite the ride!

Don’t Let the Haters Get You Down,

Is This Normal