Ever since I had my first born almost 6 years ago around this time of the year every year (lucky me) I develop severe working mom guilt. I’m writing this post as much to myself as well as all of you out there in hopes you’ll be a little kinder to yourself and know in your heart we are all doing the best we can. All my best, Kare.
When I first thought about having children I knew I’d more than likely never be in a financial place to stay at home. To be totally honest I never even thought about taking steps to try and make it happen either because I like what I do and I wanted to have a career outside the home. What I was not prepared for was the mom guilt I would inflict on myself for missing things my kids have going on and it gets worse as they get older.
I think to myself “isn’t that something, I don’t even need other moms to shame me like what goes on in the many social media groups I’ve seen I take care of the shaming all on my own!” Seriously though the struggle is real. Let’s chat about it.
Whether you work outside the home or within the home it is almost impossible to take care of everyone’s needs and wants. We already know that most days mom’s needs are in a whitewater raft tumbling and tossing through rapids until eventually they are tossed over the waterfall. Even I can live with my needs being on the garage grill side burner that’s never been lit but my heart just crumbles when I can’t be there for my kids.
We can start with the fact that both of my kids go to daycare. Yep you heard me right and they have since they were 8 weeks old. I feel lucky because even though they’ve switched daycares a few times to do sitters retiring and moving school districts all of the lovely people who have watched my kids have loved them as if they were their own. My son’s babysitter didn’t even tell me that he’d taken his first steps at her house 3 days before I witnessed it for myself because she wanted me to have that moment. Ugh, incredible. Find the right daycare and it feels like family. They do say it takes a village right??
Really I think most people would think I am one of the lucky mom’s which they’re definitely right in some aspects. I do work a m-f typical day job and I’m home every night for dinner and school activities that happen in the evening. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I miss. I’m talking about the Christmas concerts, daytime field trips, holiday classroom parties, gingerbread decorating, my kids school birthday celebrations, you get the point. While I would love to make every one of these special events the teachers create it’s just not possible for me to take off 2 hours right in the middle of my day to go and then bring my child home because what kid wants to ride the bus after making a Sistine chapel gingerbread house?
You might be thinking maybe I could send my husband but he works outside the home too and drives many miles away from home so it’s impossible for him to know where exactly he’ll be at that time too. He handles it with grace as many dad’s do and lovingly tells me that there’s nothing I can do about it and the kids will understand. And to be fair they’ve always been so amazing about it but why do I always feel the weight on the shoulders? Even when I give in and call my mother to see if she can go I’m relieved that they’ll have someone but it still isn’t me.
Maybe it’s the weight of the pen when I write on my daughter’s slip that unfortunately I don’t have anyone to send into school to help her with her gingerbread house. All I picture is my 4 year old with a sad expression on her face just trying to get her house to stick with no success! Or the way the teacher is silent on the phone when they ask if I’ll be coming in to deliver my child’s birthday treat for the class and I say no I’ll be sending it with them on the bus. It’s like I can feel the judgement burning through the phone cable.
Do you know what the reality is though? None of these nightmare scenarios are actually happening. I know my daughter won’t be alone building her gingerbread house because she’s got an amazing school and teachers who I know will help her. Maybe there will be a mom in there who wouldn’t mind giving her a hand or encourage her to stop eating all the toppings so some make it to the actual house. And I know that during field trips and holiday parties the kids are having so much fun and building their social skills that most times they probably hardly notice I couldn’t be there. They’re always so excited to come home and tell me all about their day and everything that happened and whenever I apologize because I couldn’t be there they always say “it’s okay mom!” Finally then it feels like then I can give myself permission to move on.
As parents we are all doing the best we can to provide the best upbringing we can for our kids. We want to raise good mannered, loving, respectful kids and we want to make sure they look back on their childhood with fond memories of laughter and fun. And these things are still possible even if you can’t make every little thing happen with and for your kids. It’s good for kids to see their parents working hard and dedicated to whatever they have going on that’s important to keep the family smooth running. You’re still a good mom even if no matter how you try you feel like you can’t get it right. Your children still love you and think you are the most amazing person in the whole world. I know this is true because I see it every night in the eyes of my kids. This of course being after a 45min argument over why they have to eat their vegetables even though all they really want is ice cream.
At the end of they day none of it matters. They just want to give you their purest love and all the snuggles (take them!). And now it’s your turn to give yourself some forgiveness and self love. Take time to realize what a great mom you are and everything you bring to your family and every other relationship you have. Parenthood doesn’t come with a guide. You learn as you go. Try not to get sucked into all the teeny tiny details because if you allow yourself to go there you’ll end up missing so much and from what other parenthood survivors tell me the the time goes by really fast. Whatever mom guilt you have do your best to let that shit go so your mom flow can be strong because you are doing the hardest job out there and I think you’re awesome!
Take it all in and give yourself love and appreciation because you are doing the a phenomenal job and your family is lucky to have you.