New mom guilt & ‘Rebound’ guy or real boyfriend?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

DEAR CAT: I recently went back to work after a 3 1/2-month maternity leave. I’m very happy to be back, but there is an industry conference coming up that requires me to be out of town for a week. I haven’t spent one full day away from my son since he was born, and I’m losing sleep over the thought of it. I missed the last conference due to my pregnancy, and it’s an accreditation thing, so professionally, I must attend this one. My baby will be well looked after and spoiled (in the good way!) by my husband and parents, but I feel so guilty about leaving. My family is encouraging me to go, but I can’t get rid of this feeling. I was hoping an objective opinion would help. — GUILTY NEW MOM

DEAR G.N.M. It doesn’t sound quite like guilt, it sounds like fear. You know your son will be OK without you, but will you be OK without your son? Of course you will, because you are a loving, thoughtful, responsible, doting mother who only spends time away when you absolutely must. If you were any less, your husband and parents wouldn’t be encouraging your trip. And perhaps they know that a little time away might be a good thing. Your child is in the best possible hands, and it’s OK to relax and tend to your job. Remember it’s only temporary, and…Cat’s Call: You will be refreshed and well-rested when you return.

DEAR CAT: I’m a 28-year-old professional man. Two months ago I met a lady who was recently out of an engagement. “Shelly” said she doesn’t want to be in a relationship again for a long time. I say that’s pretty reasonable, since her fiance broke things off. We spend a lot of time together and talk every day, on the phone or in person. We have a fantastic time when we go out and we’ve “rounded all the bases” if you catch my drift. She said she’s never had as much fun with anyone else. I can be very patient, and if she wants to date around that’s fine with me. How long do you think is appropriate to just play the “friendship” game? Would it be out of line or too forward to ask if she sees a romantic future in us? She keeps saying she doesn’t want a boyfriend, but we do all the “couple” things together. What is going through her mind? — CONFUSEDFRIEND

DEAR CONFUSED: She misses her ex. She’s still reeling from the idea of “what could have been.” She probably sincerely enjoys your companionship and all the fun, but even if she wanted to get serious, it’s doubtful she’s ready. It’s been only two months — that’s nothing in terms of heartbreak. There is no set time for how long you should wait, and it’s absolutely fair to ask if she sees a future with you. But just remember she’s in rebound mode, so no matter what answer you get…Cat’s Call: Don’t bank on it.

  1. Hi, Cat,
    I usually love your column and have been very impressed by your common sense. But I am SO disappointed by your answer to Guilty New Mom. I have 3 children, and had to return to work when they were still unable to hold their heads up. There are some very good reasons new moms have such a difficult time leaving their babies. I think this new mom should listen to her gut instinct, which is not to leave her baby. It has nothing to do with misplaced guilt, and everything to do with good mothering instincts. When she is 80 years old, and looking back at her life, I don’t think she’d look back and say, “Darn, I wish I’d gone for that accreditation and climbed the ladder as fast as possible, boy do I regret staying home with my precious baby!” It doesn’t matter that the baby will be well-cared for. SHE’S THE MOMMY. If she were miserable being with the baby, and itching to get away, that would be a totally different story. But her letter suggests she WANTS to be with her baby! And so she should be. Other than this column—keep up the good work!

    — Alison F., Pennsylvania    12/06/2008    Reply

  2. Am I missing something? I didn’t get the impression this mother was choosing ‘climbing the ladder’ over her baby. She felt guilty about leaving her son for the first time. She’d probably be having the same feeling 3 months from now. And remember the baby will be well-cared for by THE DADDY.

    — Katie S, California    12/06/2008    Reply

  3. Sigh! I think it is so sad that we women suffer so much in this country. In many advanced nations in Europe moms get 6 months to a year of maternity leave and even Dads get some time off for paternity leave! And I am not talking about just a few days..months for the parents to bond with their new family together. And they also have many laws preventing job discrimination or salary reduction based on sex, singledom or motherhood! But, as was recently shown by the stupid comments by Ed Rendell, we are still mired in sexism that punishes women for having a family, and then judges them for choosing not to have one. Its such a catch 22 and I for one am sick of it. Shall we try to pass that ERA again, people?

    — Abigail, NYC    12/08/2008    Reply

  4. My comment on the rebound guy: He is such a rebound guy. It doesn’t mean that it can’t work, but certainly the odds are against him. He probably shouldn’t expect that this will become a long-term relationship.

    — Mike, Pennsylvania    12/08/2008    Reply

  5. It’d be one thing if she ended the engagement but seeing as she’s the one who got dumped, that’s a serious blow. That happened to a coworker/friend and she wasn’t the same for a long time. She dated a lot but none of those rebound guys could have gotten anything serious from her. Not that they wanted to, I think some guys actually like when women are recently dumped because they get to play the good guy who would “never ever” do something like that.

    — rbrian nyc    12/11/2008    Reply


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