Thursday, March 17, 2011

Guilt and the Perception of Working Moms

(Oh my, a free morning in which to write! There's a delayed opening at daycare, so the Babby and the BabbyDaddy get to sleep in, while I get to sit and drink my coffee in peace like I used to. Bliss!)

I have to ask the working moms out there: What's up with everyone assuming I'm guilty for putting the Babby into daycare? When I've talked to people about my feelings, a lot of folks have said things like "You have nothing to feel guilty about." I guess that's people talking from experience - they felt guilty - or by observation - they've seen other mamas express guilt.

But...

Isn't guilt best reserved for those times you're doing something a little bit selfish and fun that's also kind of naughty, like eating a little too much pie but oh my gosh is it delicious or spending all day reading when you ought to be doing chores?

I mean, really now, why should I feel guilty that I'm spending very close to half my paycheck to put the Babby in a very nearby in-home childcare situation that's vegan and run by a very nice person with all sorts of education in child development who we've actually known for quite a while?

We actually feel good that we're able to put her in such good childcare!

I can tell when I pick up the Babby that she's having lots of fun and being stimulated and well cared for. I can tell when I drop her off that she's looking forward to her day. She's napping like a champ, and eating just about as much as she'll eat with me. Heck, the other day as I was unbuckling her car seat in front of daycare, she said: "That's M.'s house. I love her."

Again, that's GOOD, not bad. Nothing to feel guilty about.

Maybe if the Babby was six months old or six weeks old, I'd feel a sense of something like guilt - especially since I think it would be a lot harder to tell whether or not she'd had a good day. But the Babby is hugely verbal. If she had a bad day, she's more equipped to communicate that. And what she's been telling me is that she's been having good days.



No, what I feel is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and regret with a heaping helping of sad.

6 comments:

  1. It's funny how people sometimes project their own perceptions, anxieties, prejudices, etc.. onto mothers. Sounds like Babby is doing awesome!

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  2. I think part of it also is that it's such a common sentiment presented in the media - the woman going back to work who maybe isn't exactly unhappy about going back to work (not that there's anything wrong with that). But I don't think guilt is the right word for what most mamas feel, anyway. I don't even know if there is a word for it!

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  3. I went back to work when Chick was 18 months old and seriously we were both so ready for it!!! I love my daughter dearly but being a SAHM was never for me and she absolutely loved daycare. As a parent you are always made to feel guilty about your every decision so you just have to go with what is right for your family!!! Stopping by from SITS to say Hi!

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  4. I had to go back to work when my little guy was 4 months old and it was super hard, I think because I felt like I was surrounded by SAHMs and I was the only lady who had to work...which obviously is irrational. I felt sad, but not guilty. Guilt is what I would feel if I decided not to work and couldn't pay the mortgage or put food on the table. Now, that's guilt.
    I found your blog through SITS, love it!

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  5. Boy I remember that! I didn't feel guilty that as a single parent, I had to work or we didn't eat - but I did miss him, too. I had 6 months straight at home with him which is more than some people got! We are graced to do what we need to be graced to do!

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  6. @Emma It's definitely not for everyone! Glad you knew it and could do what was best for you. I don't think there's one right way to be a mom - I just wish there was more flexibility for everyone!

    @gin Thanks for stopping by! And exactly! No reason to feel guilty for doing what's best for the fam! (I have a lot of SAHM friends, so I know how you felt...)

    @LBDD YES! Now to get back to work so I can finish my day!

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