The Velociraptor of Guilt Shows Its Head Again During Maternity Leave

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I have a difficult time relaxing.

Ever since I was a child, I had to be constantly doing something mental or physical. I have numerous memories of being on vacation with my parents, and they just wanted to take a justifiable breath and relax, but I always had other plans.

“What are we doing today? I’m bored. Let’s go!”
I was so so that kid.

My parents figured out how to keep me entertained with books, crafts, and an uncanny obsession with 3-2-1 Contact and The Wizard of Oz, but as a parent now, I can only imagine how much of an annoying little kid I must have been: intuitive or not.

I would have driven my own adult self – crazy.

This preface relates to my situation right now. For the last two months leading up to my second son’s birth, I was basically working double time as a teacher while writing approximately 12,000 words a week.

I felt that I had to do this in order to save for a month of maternity leave and because I was about to stop teaching to write and stay home with my two children.

Anyhow, I successfully was able to save for a month of maternity leave while also convincing my writing clients to give me this break and making sure I had more than enough ongoing work to help pay the bills after a month of leave.

It should be known that I worked my tail off to make this all possible, and it took tremendous determination, organization, and discipline to pull it all off.

Although it really shouldn’t be anyone’s business how I made it justifiably happen, I still find myself constantly feeling the need to defend myself even when people who genuinely know me know that I am intelligent and analytical when making life-changing decisions, and outsiders have no idea about the full context of my situation.

But again, I digress.

The point is that I am currently on a month leave, and just like that little redheaded girl on vacation, I am having a difficult time relaxing. I have felt tempted to write thousands of words again, and even though I have more than enough work for when my month ends, I find myself scouring Upwork for more writing jobs.

It is almost like I have an addiction to the challenge of obtaining them.

Many people in my life have told me that I need to learn to relax. My husband (also my complete balancing opposite) tells me to chill quite frequently. I apparently have issues with “chilling”.

Although I know how incredibly important it is to bond and relax with my newborn son, and although I am more than aware that I earned this time, I still feel like a restless little kid, and I also feel guilty.

Yes, the guilt always manages to shine through and peep its ugly velociraptor head through the door.

The funny thing is that I see a lot less of this velociraptor lately.

I used to see him everywhere: creeping in the shower, on my morning commutes, on my computer, etc.

He used to be all around, but I do feel I have somewhat tamed the beast, even though he is still there, drooling with his sharp fangs – beckoning me to come closer.

The truth is that although my children are my world, It’s hard being a mom in today’s world.

You are damned if you work and damned if you don’t and damned if you compromise.

You are damned if you breastfeed or use formula.

You are damned if you go a mile a minute or move at a slower pace.

Everyone seems to be an “expert” and everywhere you look you seem to be damned.

The question I ask myself now is how come I feel so damned after I found a way to take care of me?

Here lies the problem.

Part of this is my own fault. I am still that restless little kid who always needs something to do, but the unrealistic societal expectations are also contributors.

Why is it that so many women feel that whatever they choose, they just can’t win?

I, for one, don’t get it.

Here is my take: Do what works for you and your family. After all, you know yourself and them best.

As long as you are doing your best, loving yourself and your family, and causing no pain, who am I to judge?

Even I have had to accept that there is more than one right way to raise a child.

So today I am going to send my two-year-old to daycare (we have in him there for another month), and I am going to lie on the couch, kick my feet up, and put my newborn on my chest, and I am going to binge watch Girl Boss on Netflix.

I do not care to hear any opinions on this decision, and when the snarling velociraptor peers at me from my living room corner, I am going to chuck a rattle at him and watch as he temporarily disappears for a couple of hours.

I am going to force myself to relax until the urge to do the laundry, clean the kitchen, and search for more writing jobs takes over again.

Further Suggested Reading

Maternity Leave: A Novel

The Wise Mama Guide to Maternity Leave: Avoid Burnout, “Bad Mom Syndrome,” and Other Common Pitfalls of Motherhood

 Leave Guilt (thisbrightonmum.com)

 

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