I have posted about “Working Mom Guilt” before, and yet it is such a recurring theme in my life, it is never far from my thoughts. This week was particularly challenging, perhaps because I think for one of the first times, my husband had Working Dad Guilt.
Sienna is in preschool. Yes, I know even stay-at-home moms have their children in preschool, so I don’t know why I associate Sienna’s preschool experience with being a Working Mom issue. I know it is not.
And yet, every time I drop her off, I feel a sting of Working Mom Guilt.
This week, Sienna gave me a good, healthy dose of it.
Three out of five days this week, when I dropped Sienna off, she melted in a puddle. She even plastered her face and her hands up against the window, crying as she watched me drive away.
Knife. In. My. Heart.
Now, I know she loves her preschool. She often scolds me when I pick her up, saying I’ve picked her up too early, she is not finished playing, or doing her crafts, etc.
So what is it? This has only become a recurrent theme in the last couple of months.
I think a couple of things. One, she’s there by herself. I don’t mean there aren’t other kids there. There are, including her best friend. But she doesn’t have her older brother anymore. And, Graem is still at home with me while I’m on parental leave. She’s a sibling of three, flying solo. And, as independent as she is, I think she misses being separated from her brothers.
The second thing is I think she misses me. She has become more and more of a Mommy’s Girl in the last several months. She loves her dad, of course, but she is my shadow.
So, Working Mom Guilt sets in. As I left her at preschool this week, I’d just pray the whole way home. That God would comfort her. And me.
Tygh also got a healthy dose of Working Dad Guilt this week from Brae. Tygh gets up early, before everyone else, and is often out the door before we are awake. This week, Brae heard the garage door open as Tygh was getting ready to leave one morning. He bolted out of bed, flew down the stairs, and raced to the garage just as Tygh was pulling out of the garage. Tygh saw Brae, crying, reaching his arms out to him.
Tygh stopped the car, parked, and came inside. He carried Brae to the couch, who was inconsolable. “I miss you, Daddy!” he wailed.
Knife. In. My. Heart.
So where is this guilt coming from and what do we do about it?
I know that we are in the majority. Two, full-time working parents. Sure, one of us could stay home if we chose to. Yes, we’d have to dramatically alter our lifestyle, but we could do it.
We have chosen, however, not to. Tygh and I both love our jobs. Our careers. Our professions.
We also dearly love our children. The two are not mutually exclusive. For me, I firmly believe I am a better mom as a working mom. I am at my best when I feel fulfilled in my profession, and at home. I need that balance. My kids need me to have that balance.
But, I still feel guilty. At times. Not all the time, but at times. Like this week.
The ironic thing is that I’m not back to work full-time yet. I’m still on leave, and have chosen to work part-time, from home. So, yes, I could pull Sienna out of preschool (I suppose) and have her home with me, too. I have chosen not to.
And this is where some raw honesty comes in. I want to be home, alone, with Graem. I want Brae in school, and I want Sienna in school. With Brae, it was just me and him, at home. With Sienna, I kept Brae in preschool, and it was just me and Sienna at home. I’m doing the same with Graem. I need this bonding time with just him.
I’ve accepted Working Mom Guilt. So what do I do now? Well, I’ve chosen to let some things go. When the kids are home with me, I’m completely devoted to them. The laundry sometimes stays in the dryer for days. The dishes pile up in the sink. The beds aren’t made. We’ve hired a housekeeper so I don’t spend my weekends cleaning house. I say “no” to other commitments that would keep me away from my kids.
At church this week, the sermon was about living in the margins. Creating more white space on your pages of life.
I believe in that lifestyle mentality.
Because life happens in the margins.