It’s a scene that any working mum is familiar with. And this morning it happened to me (again). My child was sobbing at drop-off, screaming, arms reaching out as I turned and walked away. I could hear him crying from the car. Tears welled up in my eyes and my hands shook. I was tempted to stand outside the front door until I heard the tears subside. But I took a deep breath and kept walking.
Even though I knew he would eventually settle, it still broke my heart. I thought by my third child this stuff would get easier. I thought I was done with guilt. But then we have a bad day like today, and I feel like it’s the first time all over again and I’m questioning all my choices. My brain has arguments with itself:
I never put the other two in childcare this early. But I’ve been at home for more than five years! It’s my time!
He doesn’t want to go and tells me so in no uncertain terms. But it’s good for him! He loves playing with other kids.
It’s selfish. But I’m a better mum when I feel creatively fulfilled. And one day I want my kids to be proud of my work.
I work from home, I should keep him with me! Working with a two-year-old boy at my feet? Not gonna happen.
Why can’t I just study and work at night? My brain switches off at 7pm. I’m not going to produce my best work.
He’s confused because some days he’s at daycare, some days at home, some days at grandma’s. This is just how it is. I’m doing my best.
He’s going to be scarred. It’s only one or two days a week you mad woman!
Shut up brain.
I’m trying to get to the point of acceptance. Some days will be worse than others. He will have days where he really misses me. And I’ll have days where I really miss him. And that’s ok. All parents feel guilty sometimes. And that’s ok too. But I have to try and keep the bigger picture in my head. The why.
I’m working/studying/blogging because it makes me happy. I want to do something for myself and use my brain. Just a little bit. I’m never going to be able to banish mother guilt completely. As Danielle La Porte said at the Big Hearted Business (un)Conference last week: “Guilt is a sidecar to consciousness. You can’t change and grow without leaving things behind.” There are going to be some days where I feel guilty, but deep down I know I’m making the right decision. I’m not going to let a guilty moment stop me from moving forward and doing what I need to do.
How do you handle mother guilt?