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.