I'm a good working mom. Really.

 

Today I heard a vent from a brand new mom who was planning to go back to work and was being eaten alive by mommy guilt about using daycare.
Specifically she said:
"I am going back to work because I HAVE to, and my baby will be doing all of his or her awesome new tricks, like smiling and laughing and rolling over and sitting up, all with someone who is NOT ME. I HATE the thought of it. I just hate giving up all of the milestones to someone who is not me. I can't imagine not being the one caring for my own baby -- if not 100% of the time, at least 95% of the time"

Oh lady! How I have been there! With my eldest daughter, those thoughts were constantly in my head. I compared the infant room at my daycare to "baby jail" with all the little ones lined up in bouncy seats, as if prisoners on death row.

Yeah, seriously. That was how bad I making it out to be in my head. DEATH ROW! It didn't help that I was hearing all the negative messages from family, fellow moms, and of course my favorite talk radio doc.

It is hard to see reality when you are standing there in the trenches, you are so engrossed in it. You are constantly second guessing everything. "Can the daycare teacher tell the difference in her cry? Will she sleep if it isn't dark? What if they feed her something she hasn't eaten before?" The what-ifs drive you crazy.

And in all honestly, there isn't any real way to get over those doubts until you have walked through it and come out the other side. Now that I have an older child (almost 5) and a new baby my perspective is very different. I am both "in the trenches" and "been there, done that" so all those 'what-ifs' have been answered.

So how did I answer my fellow working mom? What advice did I offer?

Here is what I said:
"Don't focus on your guilt. That isn't constructive, and in fact, isn't deserved. In realtiy, you may face people who will tell you that daycare is "neglecting your child." We will even beat ourselves up by saying that to ourselves. We tell ourselves nobody could do as good of a job as (obviously) we can.. and that couldn't be farther from the truth. It isn't like we are dropping them off at a crack house or leaving them in a box at the side of the road. We are selective with who we choose to care for them. To me, if you find someone who cares about your child, it isn't that you are taking something away from them.. you are just adding more people in their lives, who love them, care for them and nuture them to grow up to be wonderful loving, caring adults. You are providing for them what they need.

You wouldn't resent a kindergarten teacher, or a college professor, or a grandparent.. for spending time with your child. Maybe they aren't you, but they help shape your children to become independent and self-reliant. And you are doing all of this in addition to showing them a strong independent role model. Someone who is willing to sacrifice anything to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. Your motivation is one of love.

If your father worked full time outside of the home did you ever resent him? Did you ever think he didn't love you, that he chose his career over you? NO. Nobody thinks that about work outside the home dads. Why is it when a woman makes that (or is forced to make) choice, that that rationale is questioned? Why is that a guilt trip that only we get to take?

I know this probably doesn't sound super reassuring, but hang in there.. walk through the self-doubt and guilt. Since on the other side, you will look back and realize that the harshest critic of you is YOU. Your baby will love you unconditionally.. they will love the mom you are, and they will love the life you gave them because you worked hard, and had only their well being at heart. That is something they can only get from a real parent.. a GREAT parent."

I wish I had heard that advice more often. Since now when I pick my youngest up from baby jail I no longer feel any guilt. I have been there, done that, and come out the other side and in reality I am a better parent, a wonderful parent, the perfect parent for MY kids.

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