Mom guilt: Boy, have I struggled with this one. My ultimate dream in life has always been to be a wife and mother. You know how some girls dream of the perfect wedding? I would lay in bed thinking about what my future husband would be like, how many kids we’d have, what their names would be, if they’d like dogs, etc. The only dream that surpasses that ultimate dream is to be a stay at home mom.
So, you can imagine the struggles I’ve faced when that ultimate, ultimate dream just isn’t a reality for us right now. The weeks leading up to L’s first day at daycare were very emotional for me. Just the thought of daycare would send me spiraling on a wave of emotions. The day before? Why even bother with makeup? (Sigh)
Aaron and I went together the first day to drop L off. He was just a tiny little two month baby, my baby. I cried all day that day and cried even harder when they sent me a picture of him that morning as reassurance. I’m so glad I decided to go back to work on a Friday. I needed the weekend to recover after that rough day.
As time has passed, my guilt has eased. It’s become fairly easy to drop him off. I’m so incredibly thankful we’ve found a great daycare with ladies who love my little boy like their own. I’m equally as thankful that he clearly loves them as well. (And, if I’m being totally honest, it really helps knowing I’m still his absolute favorite person in the world….sorry, hubby.) Every day I look forward to seeing his excitement when I walk into daycare to pick him up. The way a smile breaks across his face and his little legs start moving in excitement is just beyond adorable and so incredibly heart warming.
If I were to give anyone daycare advice, it is to pay whatever it is you need to pay in order to know that your children are loved dearly and cared for completely by whichever daycare you choose. Knowing this is how I’m able to leave him in their care each and every day. This is why, with time, it has gotten easier.
However, just when I thought I had a pretty good handle on this whole “working mom” thing, I took L in for his nine month appointment. I was thinking it was going to be harmless; no shots, no sickness aside from his pesky allergies, I actually remembered to bring the diaper bag with a spare bottle this time (amazing accomplishment for me…). Things were looking up. Then they asked me to fill out a six page questionnaire about milestones, actions, and abilities.
Suddenly, the mom guilt was quickly creeping back in as I struggled to answer questions like, “Does your baby hold onto furniture with one hand and reach down with the other to grab a toy off the ground?” Uhhh… “Can your baby, within a few tries, successfully grab a piece of string?” We’re supposed to be playing with string?? “If you hide a toy under a cloth while your baby is watching, will he remove the cloth to find the toy?” I don’t know! “Does your baby hold a block in each hand and bang them together?” Maybe he does at daycare; by the time we get home at night, it’s practically time for bed, so I don’t see how he plays! “Does your baby say three words with meaning?” No…oh my gosh, his first word is going to be his daycare teacher’s name! She knows if he reaches for toys while holding onto furniture. She’s probably banging blocks together with him every day and playing hide and seek with toys.
All the questions whose answers I knew (the majority of them, by the way) quickly faded away as I focused on the stuff I don’t know about my son. To make matters worse, that night I paid special attention to those different actions, only to find out that he does, in fact, reach down for a toy while holding onto furniture. I had marked no. Oh my goodness, I’m a terrible mother. I didn’t know he could do that!
Needless to say, my life, and more accurately, my heart, has recently been rocked. I put on my confident face, but inside my heart was breaking. I should know these things. I’m his mother.
Mom guilt is real. I struggle with the kind many working moms have. Our time and attention is constantly being competed for between our work and our family. I dream of the possibility of quitting my job to stay home with L, only to hit the finances road block. We can’t afford for me to not be working right now. It just isn’t a possibility.
Clearly I don’t have it all figured out, but one thing I’m learning is that it comes and goes in waves. I had a pretty good stretch there for awhile where everything was running smoothly and all emotions were in check. Now, as I struggle to get past my most recent bout of guilt, I’m clinging to the hope that this too shall pass. I’ll overcome this wave, and everything will calm down for awhile.
Most of overcoming this guilt thing is keeping the right perspective. Even if it’s his daycare teacher who could better answer those questions, I’m glad that he is being taken care of by a woman who loves him enough to pay attention to those habits. I’m so thankful that she is willing to love on my son every day. I’m thankful he has a safe environment to grow and play in. I’m so glad he’s learning how to make friends and interact with other kids. I’m grateful that he is willing to go to other people other than myself. I’m thankful that he has a solid routine and schedule to follow each day and that they are willing to work on new skills with him, like mastering finger foods or napping without a swaddle.
These ladies are team Landon, right along with his father and me. We are all working together to raise him, teach him, comfort him, and, most of all, love him. This is what gets me through the guilt: knowing he is so very loved by us all. That sounds like one lucky little boy to me.