I went back to work when my son was eleven months old and have been working full-time ever since. I believe in what I do to support my family and I don’t resent my need to provide. Unfortunately, some days in making sure I’m covering everything, I feel I’m missing out on everything else.
More often than not, I send back field trip forms with no signature in the volunteer portion. I’m a working mom and I can’t always get away due to other responsibilities. He says he understands and then spends the whole time trying to convince me to come on his outing. It breaks my heart to say no all the time but I know deep down he understands.
The other day he thanked me for buying the things we needed to make chilli, so I know he gets that my time is traded for money which is used to buy the food he loves. He’s a kid who loves looking at a full fridge and a full pantry and he knows he is lucky because he asks me to support the food bank. I know I have to work to provide these things, but I still feel like I’m missing his own childhood.
I feel guilty on a lot of levels. On occasion, I’ve been judged by those who have the option to stay at home (or don’t have the option to work, depending on the situation); their words were so damning they made me doubt myself. I feel thankful but guilty that other moms send me pictures of my kid because I don’t have the flexibility to go to things. There’s so much I’m missing and he’s only going to be young once. It goes by so fast and I feel left behind.
On an intellectual level, I know he’s benefiting from additional socialization at daycare. His daycare is incredible. We are so lucky to have a place for him there. He’s proud of what I do and likes to brag to his friends about it. He encourages me to rest and relax because he knows I work hard.
The other day he came to me with his heart in his hands, literally. It was a wriggly jello heart, “to show his appreciation” and it was the sweetest thing ever. He’s always held my heart in his little hands, so the symbolism was not lost on me. Guilt will fade in time, I’m sure, and I’m doing the best I can. As much as I feel like I’m missing everything, I know I have it all when I hold him in my arms.