Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mom Guilt

I could hear Yoda yesterday, "Strong is the mom guilt with you."

I would love to stay home with our girls, but it's not in the cards. I cried a lot when I first went back to work, and then it was every couple of months. After we moved to our new house last year, I knew staying home was no longer even a remote possibility, so I've only had a few bad days. Yesterday was one of them.

We've been blessed to have my parents as the girls' secondary care providers for the most part. Our eldest daughter has been going to an in-home daycare provider a few days a week for the last year and a half. She is a wonderful, grandmotherly woman who adores the 3 kids she watches part-time. She is having surgery this Wednesday and will need to recuperate for a month. Enter mom guilt.

In the interim, we had discussed having my parents watch S full-time, but they already watch Baby R 40 hours a week, and throwing S in the mix that much is too exhausting for them. So we were going to see if my FIL could watch her a bit and juggle some scheduling (mom guilt creeps in a little further), but then our provider suggested a daycare with a Montessori approach down the street whose owners she's friends with.

I was intrigued. I'd been wanting to put S in Montessori preschool, we just couldn't afford a typical one. The daycare costs the same as our other provider and was willing to take her for a temporary time with the possibility of switching to permanent if needed after this month. So yesterday was S's first day there.

They are nice enough, I guess, and there are about 10 kids S's age with 4 adults, but it's definitely more of a center than a home. She's old enough for that now, but it's just not the same kind of environment. S is not a fan of change. She's become fussier and clingier in the last week. I can't blame her. I'm not a fan of change either; who is? But some kids are really all about their schedule, and she is one of them. I know I can't keep her schedule the same forever, and I want to teach her how to deal with change in a healthy way, but I also don't want to unnecessarily create situations where she feels unstable. And the mom guilt has a firm toehold.

So yesterday, as I waved goodbye to her as I drove away, her little face in the window showing signs of apprehension, mom guilt won; for the first time in a long time, I cried on the way to work. I worried for her. I worried if I'd made the right decision, and if she was going to be safe and have fun and learn. I worried that she would be worried. I worried that she would not be able to nap. I worried that since there were so many kids, they would already have friendships and not make room for her.

I used to think it was just because I worked that I had mom guilt, but my SAHM friends tell me they have mom guilt, too, so I've decided it's just part of the job. More so for those of us who have unrealistic expectations. I try to keep them in check, but that's just part of my personality. I left work early so I could be the one to pick her up (Daddy usually does). I got there...and she was fine. And I let out a big sigh of relief, a breath I'd been holding all day without realizing it. The mom guilt subsided - for now.


Natalie said...

I'm a SAHM and have major mom guilt sometimes. I thin it's just all part of being a mom. It comes and goes, and I hate the feeling. I know that we do more than enough for our children, but it just feels like I should always be doing more.


MommaKiss said...

the mom guilt has kicked my azz more than once. it's never easy. like i'm never pleasing everyone. doing many things half-azz. Totally gets me!

Kelley said...

I am so sensitive b/c I teared up just reading about you crying. I need to get it together! Yes, I think we all have mom guilt. I work about 2 days a week, but I feel horrible when I leave my little dude at the Montessori school where he goes. There are 24+ kids in his STANKIN' class!! There are several teachers, but still...that is waaaaay too many kids in there. He's 2 1/2. This is a temporary place for him. We'll move somewhere else soon, but...I've had many days where I cried on the way to work. Still, when I pick him up, he calls my name & comes running to me with a big smile on his face. They're fine, right?? Right?? Right! :)

On another note, SO glad you stumbled up on my "Real Women of Genius" post! I am NOT right in the head, but I guess you know that now! :) I am so new to SU, but I am going to try it out more this week.

I look forward to following you! :)

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Natalie, I think that's it exactly - no matter how much I do for them, I always feel like I could be doing more.

MommaKiss, That's so true - I try to please everyone, but I can't do it all, so I only kind of get it done. Aack!

Kelley, Thanks so much for your encouragement! If you want to talk not-right-in-the-head, check out my post called "A Note on the Importance of Siblings" from a couple of weeks ago. :)

Lynn said...

OH I so feel your pain. The good news is that in the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively short period in their lives when they will have to deal with daycare and changes to their routine. The bad news is that it's a relatively short period in their lives when they are this age and you want to enjoy them before they grow up. We can't win!

Thanks for stopping by my blog from Liz's Stumble Upon....I'm still not completely sure that I'm getting this whole SU thing...

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

So true about the short time! I try to soak up as much as I can in the few hours I get to spend with them each day.

Sure! I'm in the same boat - I've gotten tons of great advice from B2S/B2B, but I'm still struggling with trying to do Twitter, SU, and fix up my blog to look better. :) I'll get there!!

Kristi said...

I agree that mom guilt is completely unavoidable. The quantity however, seems to vary by person. I work full-time (two days a week from home and three in the office) and I've never felt more sorry being away from my girls than now. Maybe it's because one is 2.5 and the other is 1 and they are so much fun now and I just want to hang. Or maybe it's because I feel like it's getting to be too much work for my mother-in-law. Or, maybe I've just realized that what I really want to focus on is my girls, home and writing. But alas...we need my income. So, for now I just placate myself with the fact that they are getting good grandma time (they love her to pieces) and when she's in the daycare setting, my toddler is getting awesome socialization and experiencing new things (learning to cut with scissors, use glue, play in a sand box, take turns with other kids, manage her feelings during little tiffs, etc.) that make her life richer.

gopopgo said...

Whatever. Mom guilt is NOTHING! Try Dad guilt:

Not only do you get/take crap from you kids but you get/take crap from your wife too. :-P So we have to hold our breaths until we pickup the kids AND until our wives forgive us. Good times!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Yep. We all have guilt. But I think it's ok, as long as you don't let it rule your life. You seem to be a strong momma. I hope she's liking it better by now!

Anonymous said...

Great post, I have no idea how I found your blog but I'll be back!

I work full-time with 2 kids (4 and 6). My parents watch them during the day for summer and after school for the rest of the year. Guilt has plagued me since day 1. I have bad days and good.

If anyone has any recommendation for how to get over it! I would love to read/hear your ideas.

P.S. I have really thin skin when it comes to mothering.

Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

I felt guilty when I worked, guilty when I didn't. I just knew I was screwing up my daughters one way or another, at all times. The way I screwed them up most: Passing along my guilt-ridden ways that they've now carried into adulthood. Wonder if it would be the same if I had boys. I'm not sure boys (men) feel as continuously guilty as girls (women) do.

Sherri said...

Ah, the Mommy Guilt. I agree that we all have it, in one form or another. It morphs as your situation changes and the kids get older, too. I have been both a SAHM and returned to work part-time when they got older. There's great guilt in both worlds, so I really think it's part of the job of Mom.

I got teary like Kelley did, too! I love how you poured your feelings out, and I look forward to following you!

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

Kristi - Well said! It's so important to keep that perspective.

GoPopGo - Touche! But I think men are better at getting over it whereas women seem to wallow in it. Or maybe that's just my experience.

Tracy, Sherri and Anonymous - Thanks so much for the support!

Lisa - I know - that is my fear. I need to be better at hiding the guilt and worry! I can already see that our eldest is a worrier. I try to help her find ways to resolve it, but I'm afraid it's just part of who she is already.

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