Mommy Guilt


Ben used to pride himself on naming my blog. “I thought of the name, so mommy wouldn’t even have a website without me,” he would taunt his siblings with. And, it’s true, kind of. The name came from a time when he was two and afraid of everything: His room, his class, his car seat, his dinner… and me. The moment he uttered the phrase “Scary Mommy,” I knew that my blog-to-be had a name and the rest is history.

Lately, though, his attitude towards what I do has changed. While his siblings love the attention, he shies away from it. He gets weepy when I’m not at home for bedtime and last week, as I told him I needed to leave for a few days, his eyes welled with tears. “I wish I’d never said the name Scary Mommy,” he whimpered. “Because if I hadn’t, you wouldn’t need to go.”

Hello, Mommy Guilt. I’m quite sure a knife in the gut would have been less painful.

These last few weeks have been the most exciting time in my life. Book launch party! Fancy hotels! Talk shows! New York Times List! I’m still pinching myself over all of it. But, as amazing as the experience has been, I can’t help feeling that I belong at home, in my yoga pants and carpool line. You know, with the kids who inspired the whole thing to begin with.

I always offer a question and answer session at the end of my readings and one of the most common questions is about balance — how have I found it? what’s my secret? — and the question never ceases to make me laugh. Me? Balance? That’s the last thing I’ve found. I’m bored when I’m not active enough and when I am, I feel like my family suffers. I want to keep all of the excitement, but pace it out in small doses so I can actually appreciate it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the way it works. Or, so I’m told.

So, I write this in tears on my way to New York where I’ll be for the next four days. I’m spending Jeff’s 35th birthday out of town and skipping out on baseball and a school performance. Sure, I get a king sized bed to myself, but it comes at a steep cost. Sadly, I don’t sleep all that well when I can’t hear them breathing.

I come home Saturday and this Mother’s Day, for the first time since Lily was a baby, I don’t want the day off. Turns out too little of my kids is even harder than too much.


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  1. 5

    Codie says

    This post had me in tears…this is how I feel after being able to stay home with my 3 boys for 6 months after giving birth, and now its time for me to go back to work. :( sometimes its not about the success or stability that comes with it, kids would just rather have more mommy time than all the expensive stuff WE want for them…stay strong and thanks for posting this!

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  2. 6

    Making It Work Mom says

    Oh I get this. Whenever I am away from my “babies” (12, 10, 5) I feel like everything has lost its luster. I can’t really fully enjoy anything because I am thinking about what THEY are doing.

    Sometimes you can’t fully appreciate perfect until you are removed from it.

    Hoping you have the best Mother’s Day ever full of screams, fights, tears, sloppy kisses, sticky fingers, and all the unconditional love you can handle.

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  3. 7

    Mercy says

    Four days alone – I could use that right about now. But then my son would probably find a way to make me feel guilty about leaving him. I might make it through one day and then be too concerned about them to not stay in touch.

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  4. 8

    Loukia says

    Oh Jill. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Except I don’t hdve a best seller! ;) Seriously, though – I left Mom 2.0 on Saturday, skipping out on the Versace psrty. All so I could be at home at midnight, to kiss the cheeks of my sleeping boys. Sigh. It’s so hard! xoxo

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  5. 9

    Amy I. Bloom says

    It’s a fine line we walk. We dream of having time to ourselves, and then we feel guilty, or even more strange, lonely, when we do. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

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  6. 11

    Kathy V. says

    You’re a good mommy. You know what helps mommy guilt? Champagne and long bubble baths. Just not at the same time, or you might drown. Relaxing and rejuvenating yourself is a gift to the little ones as well!

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  7. 12

    Britney says

    Yes, I have an 23 month old and a 9 month old and I’ve never left their sides for more than 18 hours tops! I feel like going crazy sometimes and that honeymoon we never had my husband keeps begging for sounds amazing, but I know I wouldn’t enjoy it. Especially at their age, my oldest is all “MaaMaaaa bye byee!” in tears if I leave to go to a doctor’s appt! It is a curse that is the cure :/

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  8. 13

    Pauline says

    My heart was aching for you as I read your post. As hard as it is right now, it will only serve to strengthen your bond with them. You’ll be more present and more attentive when you are with them again.

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  9. 15

    Lavinia says

    This month is the first time I’ve been away from my daughter for a long period of time. She ‘s with a friend while I prepare for a deployment. While some parents like to call their on a daily basis when they’re away, it’s much harder for me because once I hear my daughters’ voice I just go into withdrawal and it’s even worse when she asks me “Mommy why did you leave me”. That’s when the guilt really hits me, but duty calls.

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  10. 18

    tracy@sellabitmum says

    Oh hugs, Jill. My mama heart aches. You should be so proud of what you have done – and you know that they are too. But damn just being there for them…that’s the prize isn’t it. You DO rock it all. Love you.

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  11. 20

    Melissa says

    I NEED time away from DS2 b/c DH works away from home for 6weeks at a time. Sadly, the only thing I do when I get time away is just miss him like crazy. Damned if I do – damned if I don’t.

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  12. 21

    Jane says

    I think I must be in the minority because these days I rarely suffer from mummy guilt. I share custody of my DD5 60/40 with her father plus I work full-time so I don’t get to spend loads of time with her. But feeling bad about it isn’t going to change the situation so it’s just wasted energy. Instead I focus my energy on enjoying the time I have with her, and without her and being fully present in those special moments. I’m lucky that I have an employer that’s flexible and an ex husband who I get along with (sort of) which makes life easier. I choose to be happy and grateful that I have the wonderful gift of being a mum to my mini me whilst still having a fulfilling career and enough ‘me’ time too. My daughter may not understand now why I’m not there for her 24/7 but I hope when she’s older she will see the benefits of having a mum who worked hard to give her a good life and was happy with herself whilst doing it. Hopefully she can apprecaite that I did the best I could with the cards I was dealt. That’s all any of us can do.

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  13. 22

    Stephanie says

    Awww. I know. Those times when I say I need to get away, or I finally convince someone to take one of the babies overnight, the guilt kicks in and I want to go pick them up. Enjoy all this, though. Seriously. It’s the opportunity of a LIFETIME! And your entire family will be better for it, in so many ways, in the long run.

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  14. 23

    Cassie says

    We all know the feeling of Mommy Guilt. You just have to remember that it is good for them, if their mommy is happy and doing what she loves. You are a wonderful mommy and an amazing inspiration to the rest of us! Your kiddos will be all the more excited to see you when you come home. : )

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