“I feel guilty.”

It’s always the first thought that pops into my head when I leave my baby for any reason. It doesn’t matter if the reason I leave to go to Target to get “whatever-baby-related-item-we’ve-run-out-of” is for him. I still feel guilty, leaving him to go to a shopping center to enjoy a stolen moment of time for myself, while I leave him in my husband’s (very capable) hands. What usually ends up happening is I walk in, go straight to the baby section, pick out the items I need, and walk straight out, without stopping to browse the home aisles or beauty aisles like I was once so apt to do. After all, there is a baby waiting at home for me. He needs me. Nevermind that he actually, probably at that very moment, does not.

Recently, I’ve come to a realization. Putting my baby as my first priority is great, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there is something inherently dangerous in putting him first at the detriment of my own well-being.

Getting a manicure every other week because I need some me time shouldn’t feel like a sin.

Going to get drinks with a group of girlfriends shouldn’t feel like some illicit activity.

And for goodness sake, having a date night with my husband shouldn’t make me feel guilty, it should be a priority!

And yet…I can’t seem to shake the feeling I’m not doing my best as a mom if I do any of those things, or worse, enjoy them.

When Max was born, there’s no question a part of me died. It was the part that loved to do things for myself… the part that loved to go shopping, go to the movies, stay up late and sleep in. The reality is that some of those things are simply no longer possible. But it doesn’t mean that everything has to go away. Becoming a mom doesn’t mean that you have to lose all of who you were.

I know that mom guilt exists. Everyone talks about it. The media often perpetuates it. It almost seems like if you’re not feeling guilty, you’re either lying, or you’re a “bad” mom. But I think it’s time we turn conventional logic upside down. You should not feel bad about spending time away from your baby, especially if that time rejuvenates you and makes you feel more human again. It will make you a better mom in the end. I think it’s time we let go of the guilt.

The other day I heard Dr. Phil say one of the most insightful comments I ever heard. He said “do you love your kids? If you do, take care of their mother.”

I think I’m really going to start trying.

Am I alone in this moms? Do you ever feel guilty, and if so, how do you manage it??

Image: Jacqueline Pilar Photography