On transitions and guilt.

July 17, 2009 at 9:57 am | Posted in Mama Bear, School (aka: daycare) | 15 Comments

When I first had Baby O, I figured out this one thing pretty quickly.

When you have a kid, there is SO much for which you can feel guilty.

Like not being able to BF for the full year.

Or not having the time (or wanting to spend the $$) to puree the freshest, organic foods for my baby.

Or not taking him to see Santa this past Christmas.

Or not taking enough pictures of him, or putting them up on our website timely.

Or not having planned a big birthday party for him.

Et cetera.


Being a working mom?

Could be the biggest single cause of mom guilt.*

Because truthfully, during the week, we see O for a couple of hours a day. An hour in the morning. An hour in the evening before he goes to bed. Some nights we don’t get a chance to do much but eat dinner and take a bath before he needs to be in bed.

I’ve gotten through the past year of work reminding myself that O is thriving at his daycare center. That socialization is a good thing. That forming an attachment to other people is healthy for O.

I’ve made friends with a couple other moms, and O has made friends with their kids.

And truthfully, I feel that I am a MUCH happier person being a working mom. I crave intellectual stimulation. I need the rigor of a regular workday to stay motivated and on top of things.

So I tell myself that the QUALITY of the time we spend with O counts JUST AS MUCH as spending MORE time with him.

And it helps the guilt. A lot, actually.



This past week? The guilt of being a working mom has been really hard to shake.

Despite the sleep issues last week, I had a great time on vacation with O. He’s at an age that is just SO MUCH FUN. He understands SO much of what I say, and he’s picking up words and new skills hourly, it seems.

And this week, his first real week in the toddler room, he’s having a bit of a rough transition. To the schedule. To being away from mom and dad. To all the activity, the noise, the kids.

So over the course of this week, then, morning dropoff has gotten worse and worse.

To the extent that he’s tried to climb right back into my arms as soon as I put him down. And for the past two days, I leave him in one of his new teacher’s laps, sobbing and fighting to get to me.

And then I leave daycare feeling like absolute SHIT. Even though I KNOW that he gets over his sadness fairly quickly, and the reports we get each day are pretty positive.

But I KNOW he’s not comfortable there yet. Because he needs his bear blanket – he’s taken to taking it EVERYWHERE with him at school. We have one for outside and one for inside there.

He doesn’t do that at home, not nearly as much.

And it’s mornings like this morning where I spend my drive to work talking myself out of feeling like a crap mother.

Because I WANT to spend more time with him. Because he WANTS to spend time with me. Because I’m forcing him to do something that makes him unhappy. Because he’s UNHAPPY.

And I hate the idea that I’m making decisions that are the cause of his unhappiness.

I know, I KNOW, that daycare is good for him. The socialization and stimulation that he gets at school is excellent for him. And learning that things change and he’ll have to adapt is a lesson he’ll need to learn, too.

And having a HAPPY mom benefits him, too.

But this part is just HARD. On the BOTH of us.

And there are times where I just can’t escape the guilt, as much as I want to.


*If I allow it.



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  1. I know exactly how I feel. I wish I could say that it gets easier…but it doesn’t (at least not for me). It kills me that I miss so much. And then the time we do have together, I am so exhausted that I’m not the best mom I could be. I wish there was a solution that we could afford. Such is life as a working mom. And it really sucks much of the time. But we’ve become accustomed to things like a roof, food and electricity. So for now, this is what we have to do.

    Sending hugs.

  2. I’m not sure there’s such a thing as the perfect balance. I think having a child is hard no matter what choices you make. But I sympathize and I hope O gets into the groove of the new room very soon.

  3. Yep. Hulk is just starting to get mobile… and it seems like that is tying right into the OMG MOMMY IS LEAVING ME stage. And he is also a blast to hang out with now – we play and laugh – he is a little fun person now. It’s hard. But you are doing awesome and daycare IS great for him. Trust me, I’ve seen the stay at home mom’s on my street. They are dying for a little sanity. You know you are doing the right thing. Try to keep the guilt at bay.

  4. Wierdly, I was fixing to write a post on some of the similar issues you raised. I am kinda old hat at the working mom thing since Michael is 10 years old, but my recent unemployment has reminded me how much I have had to miss out…and now I am probably going to be going back to the work force soon. And I am mixed up emotionally. I want and need a job. However, this time spent with Willow and Michael—it is so priceless. And I will definately miss it. And, of course, with any transitions, there are worries about how it affects them. So, I hate to tell ya–but you are right–parenting is a lot about guilt and balancing…and it doesn’t change when they get older either!

    In the end, we do what we can as parents to spend the time and enjoy them. I have a feeling that all the time in the world would still not be enough sometimes, however!

  5. It’s hard. I have no real words of wisdom here. As you said it is hard for him (and you of course) right now, but it won’t always be that way. As he gets used to it, drop off will get better. The other thing is, kids typically have a hard time going back to daycare after a week off with their parents. So, some of this may of happened even if he was still in the infant room.

  6. Oh Serenity, I can just hear the pain in your voice. And I know you’ll get lots of comments like this, but I personally think you are SuperMom! You do it all, and do it all WELL! I think the quality of your time together is more important than the quantity. If you spent all day every day together but weren’t happy, no one would benefit. It’s wrenching on your heartstrings, I know, but O is a beautiful amazing intelligent well adjusted kid, not despite, but BECAUSE OF everything you do and all that you are!!! He’s lucky to have a mom like you and to have been born into a family that adores him. Guilt is lame. Kick it’s ass. :o)

  7. Oops, I always forget it’s going to turn my symbols into a real smiley face. That one was supposed to be this: 🙂

  8. I know exactly how you feel. Unfortunately for me it hasn’t gotten better over time. Just this morning my almost 6 year old started tearing up as I was leaving and told me he didn’t want me to go to work. Not working is not an option so I just deal with it and try to get away from the office (work after kids go to bed) as much as I can.

  9. It is hard.

    And boy, will it get to you, no doubt.


  10. I am sure the transition this week was made harder by the fact that O was with you all last week.

    Don’t beat yourself up, you are doing what is best for you and Baby O.

  11. Kids get upset and throw fits for a variety of reasons–I’m a SAHM/Work from home mom and am with my daughter practically 24/7 but she still manages to pitch fits often when I leave a room. I am also a firm believer that guilt should not be ignored (being raised Catholic, I am an expert on guilt). If you go to sleep at night feeling guilty about something, then yes, by definition, you are doing something wrong (at least by your personal standards). Guilt is the mind’s most powerful ally in honest living. We all make our own reality. If you want to be at home with your baby, then work towards that goal until it is reached. Despite what others say and what you may think, you have it in your power to make a change. Of course it is no secret that I am a HUGE advocate for SAH parenting. From my perspective, your instincts are right on–go with them.

    You are a very intelligent and capable woman.Almost anything is possible if you make it so. Good luck and I wish you peace with this issue.

  12. Oh gosh, you could still feel guilty about lots of things if you didn’t work, I’m sure. I do hope it gets easier for him though – and also, therefore, for you.


  13. I’m betting that even if O had gone back to the infant room after a week away it would have been tough on him. The fact that he was making a big transition after a week away made it even more tough.

    Nothing is ever perfect! I know the 7 months I was home with M I craved adult interaction. Now that I’m back at work for me the ideal would be to find something part-time. It would give me the chance to use my brain and be with peers as well as give M the interaction he craves. M is a very social child and by Monday he is ready to go back and that gives me a little bit of guilt. I mean shouldn’t he want to be home with mommy and daddy? When we pull up to the school he squeals and claps. It makes me feel good that he is happy there, but it also makes me feel sad that he had to get use to that situation.

  14. I’m with Bea. And, like most of the others, I think this past week’s emotions have more to do with coming off of a vacation (big change in routine) and transitioning to the toddler room. If the feelings of guilt continue for more than a couple of weeks, then by all means reexamine them, but I think you’re being too hard on yourself.

    Plus, it’s not like SAHMs are watching the children all. the. time. I’m sure that I miss out on some magic moments while I’m blogging or checking Facebook (witness the latter’s extreme popularity among SAHMs).

  15. I think the guilt in built in or maybe I’m just a selfish person (I hope not) but I think you’re being really hard on yourself. I know that I’m missing some things that I’ll never get back, but I also know how miserable I would be if I was a SAHM and in turn they would be too.
    And just for the record, some nights I am sooo happy when they are in bed and I can just relax or the weekends, where I am practically skipping towards Monday. I’ve taken days off and instead of keeping them at home with me , they go to day school. I know that it’s not the “right way” to be, but it’s honest.

    I too know all about the guilt, but I also know that I am not missing anyting here at work, while they “work” at daycare and the look on their faces when I walk in and they scream and run toward us like it’s Christmas morning every single day, well it wipes it all away. They are happy there, and they are happy when I come to take them home and for now…that’s enough for me.

    I know that the transitions are hard and I hope that O adjusts quickly and leaves you feeling good about him being there. YOU ARE AN AMAZING mom because you care enough to think about things like this and feel for him and you.

    I did feel the pull this morning, when they were eating their yogurt and blowing me kisses, a part of me wanted to stay and get another hug , steal another kiss. I wouldn’t be their mom if they didn’t pull my heartstring like that now would I???


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