Career Mom Guilt

Dear Claudia,

My baby is a couple of months old, and I am trying to decide whether to go back to work. I actually really want to return to work, but I also worry that she needs me and that I am not providing her with the best that she can have.

Do you think it’s okay for mothers to be away from their babies?

Alice in Wondering-land

Dear Alice,

I really want to give you permission to go back to work, because I know you will be miserable staying at home with a baby all day, but I can’t do that. Because even though I truly believe it’s not good for a baby to be around a mother who is frustrated and resentful, for some babies, that mother is still better than a nanny or childcare center.

If your baby is a mama’s child, she will suffer if you leave.

But if your baby could be happy with a nice nanny or in a stimulating, happy childcare center, problem solved.

So experiment.

Find someone for the baby to attach to, whom you could leave her with, and see how your baby does. If she seems listless and depressed, come back home. If she seems connected to you and alert, you’re fine.

By the way: welcome to motherhood.

All good mothers are conflicted about their own needs and suffer guilt just having them.

All mothers struggle with how to find that delicate balance between being a mother and having their own life. And even if you finally achieve that balance, something changes and it’s gone.

But Alice, if you didn’t have this conflict and guilt, you would not be connected to your baby.

So I applaud you for staying in the gray zones where you can find the right questions and search for the right answers. Because that’s exactly what makes you a great parent.

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