I had dinner and drinks with a new friend this week at a nearby restaurant. It was someone I had met at a course and we had made plans to get together, do a bit of brainstorming and chat about our mutual industry and careers. I left my baby girl and her daddy with plenty of milk and her bedtime PJ’s and sleep sack laid out ready for her. This was the second time in three months that I was going to miss a bedtime. I felt like I needed a much-deserved break. I did my hair, wore non-stretchy pants, and looked forward to some vino & girl talk…almost feeling like my pre-baby self.
I missed my baby girl all night. I kept looking at my phone, expecting a text telling me I was needed and should come home. I kept wondering if she would be okay going to bed with a bottle of milk instead of nursing. Driving home, I felt sad and guilty. I thought to myself, how could anything take priority over my sweet three month old’s bedtime routine? What was I thinking?
I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Guilt is one of the main barrier’s to a woman’s happiness throughout her life. Women struggle with guilt much more than men do. I remember my mother feeling so guilty over this and that, never fully letting herself have faith in her decisions. I came home that night and apologetically said to my video-game playing husband, “I feel so guilty that I wasn’t here for her bedtime. Thank you for taking care of her.” He gave me a strange look.
Going to bed that night, there were two things that I couldn’t stop thinking about:
The guilt factor – Why was I feeling guilty? I have been happily and lovingly caring for my baby girl from the day she was born. I nurse her on demand and meet, I hope, every one of her needs. What exactly was wrong with needing some time apart? Would this somehow equate to me loving her less? Me wanting to be away from her? Me not embracing my new role as a mother? Was I worried about what people think? Did I take my new friend’s comment at dinner, “Where is your daughter right now?” too personally? Was it weird to other people that a new mother is without her child for an evening, doing something that has nothing to do with her child? All of a sudden, it seemed completely absurd to me that I was at a loud restaurant on a Thursday night doing something that was purely for me.
The equal responsibility of parenting – My husband is an amazing , hands-on father to our baby girl. He is happy to change her, play with her, cuddle her, and soothe her when he is home with us. He is perfectly capable of caring for her and he is the only person I trust 100% with this tiny, fragile, beautiful little being. He wasn’t doing me a “favour” by taking care of our child that night. He is an equal parent in this journey. Why did I feel the need to thank my baby’s father…for being a father?