I’ve struggled with daycare guilt since day #1. Jacob started going to daycare part-time at 5 months old and looking back, I can’t believe I dropped my tiny baby off there. Growing up, I never imagined myself a professionally-working mom. I’d stay at home with my kids, of course.
Well, then I went and got myself a career. I may have preferred to get married and start a family at 20 but that’s now how life went for me. I had to do a few other things — thankfully, because I’ve enjoyed my life.
But then career became a thing that mattered to me. It became something I was good at and found fulfillment in. I planned to continue working after I had my baby, though I wondered — would I feel differently when I was actually holding that precious little guy in my hands?
The truth is, I did feel different — but I knew that working was still important to me. It’s part of me and I didn’t feel called to be a stay-at-home mom, no matter how much I loved my son. Leaving him the first time was heartwrenching and I cried as I walked to my car. Most days it was heartwrenching. Some days it still is. But, I’ve finally begun to learn to “let go” of my guilt. Learning is the operative word — I need a lot of practice.
So many days, I let the guilt creep over my entire day, pegging me with reasons why I was a selfish person for choosing daycare. But choosing to work isn’t selfish or wrong — it’s just a decision that I made without moral value attached to it. I don’t love my son less because I work — and I have to keep telling myself that over and over.
I still have guilt, but I am finally starting to release some of it. I see how much he is learning each day and know I wouldn’t have that kind of structure or patience at home. Not that a one-year-old needs that much, but I like to see all he is learning. I see him with his little friends and hear him speaking new words. He is home by 3:30pm everyday, meaning we spend any hours with him after daycare. He doesn’t appear to have any special problems at this time that require special attention and how many daycare-raised kids would raise their hands and say they turned out A-OK?
I know there are people who may read this and think — she’s just trying to justify her decision. There are some who may think I’m selfish. The Mommy wars are relentless. But sometimes, you have to fight back the lies in your head. Just because Dr. Laura told me my whole life from the radio speakers that I would be a bad mom for working doesn’t mean she was right.
I could NOT love my baby boy any more. He is the light of my life and the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wouldn’t do well as a full-time, SAHM mom, it’s not how God made me. And thankfully, I have choices and opportunities in this life.
There’s never a way to escape mom guilt of some kind. But for now, I’m allowing myself to believe in the gifts God gave me and the wonderful care my son is receiving at his daycare. I’m cherishing the hours I spend with him everyday, which are many, and trying to remember that no matter what I’m doing — he’s still going to grow up before I know it.
I thought maybe other moms could relate.