You guys, it’s been just a few months since my little started going part-time, so the wounds are still pretty fresh, but I also still feel a lot of guilt and am even sometimes scared of sending my child to daycare. Those first couple days were awesome: I’d kiss my son on the forehead, and then give my partner a quick hug before watching through the front window as they drove off. Then, I’d take a full, luxurious eight — eight! — minute shower, make some coffee, and then maybe cross a chore or two off my to-do list before finally sitting down at my computer to get some work done — actual work with actual deadlines that came from other people, completed in a peaceful, kid-free environment. Living the dream.
While the days when my toddler goes to daycare are still mostly awesome, I’m more conflicted than I was before. What’s especially challenging is that I really love my job (stay with me, that’s not the hard part), so I’m usually enjoying myself while my little’s away at daycare — and that makes me feel super guilty. Ugh. I’m well aware that this response is totally conditioned, and majorly influenced by society, cultural norms, and gender expectations, but still. It’s a pretty gross feeling. I mean, I left the job I had outside the home almost a year ago, and was fully at home with my son, using his naps and weekly visits from his grandmother to work on a fledgling freelance career. Although now that I’ve reached a point where his routine has changed and he’s affected by my career aspirations, I’m struggling. Logically, I know that there are a lot of benefits to having a working mom, but still it gnaws me...just a little.
Thankfully, some wise people have addressed this very problem before, so I don’t have to go at it alone. Allow me to share their words of wisdom in the hopes that you, too, will find yourself a bit uplifted and reassured that there is absolutely nothing wrong with your kid spending time away from you in the company of other loving, responsible adults.
"'How do you juggle it all?' people constantly ask me, with an accusatory look in their eyes. 'You’re screwing it all up, aren’t you?' their eyes say. My standard answer is that I have the same struggle as any working parent but with the good fortune to be working at my dream job. Or sometimes I just hand them a juicy red apple I’ve poisoned in my working-mother witch cauldron and fly away." – Tina Fey
"Children learn more from what you are than what you teach." – W.E.B. Dubois
"Is it not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings." – Ann Landers
"My mother was the one constant in my life. When I think about my mom raising me alone when she was 20, and working and paying the bills, and, you know, trying to pursue your own dreams, I think is a feat that is unmatched." — Barack Obama
The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.
– Jodi Picoult
"Whatever you would have your children become, strive to exhibit in your own lives and conversation." — Lydia H. Sigourney
"If I’ve learned anything as a mom with a daughter who’s three, I’ve learned that you cannot judge the way another person is raising their kid. Everybody is just doing the best they can. It’s hard to be a mom." — Maggie Gyllenhaal
"It takes a village to raise a child." – African proverb
"Be fully present at work and at home. Feeling guilty is wasted energy and it will wear you down quickly." – Dawn Sandomeno
"It’s not easy being a mother. If it were easy, fathers would do it." —Dorothy, Golden Girls
There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.
— Jill Churchill
"Sometimes, mothers say and do things that seem like they don’t want their kids … but when you look more closely, you realize that they’re doing those kids a favor. They’re just trying to give them a better life." ― Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care