My son is recently four years old. He started at his Montessori school five days a week from 8 am to 5 pm two days before he turned two. Almost exactly, half of his life and mine as a mom has been spent as a SAHM and the other half as a full time working out side of the home mom. (FTWOTHM?)
The first two years we made the rounds of Little Gym, Emler, Kindermusic and just about everything else. The former two we still do a lot… soccer, baseball, Emler, Ice Hockey and Chess, school and a career.
So very similar and so vastly different eras of our lives. Neither is right or wrong. And my advice to all new moms is that exactly. If you stay at home with your child you will feel guilt. If you work outside the home you will feel guilt. I am very familiar with both. But if I am honest; I choose the guilt of working outside the home.
Mostly because of my list:
5 Things That Ease my Working Mom Guilt
- My child’s education
My son is a genius. Not really, but I am blown away daily by his knowledge, his curiously, his ability to grasp ideas and concepts and this thirst to know. Not to mention when he reads words out of nowhere, counts to 100, says something in Spanish and instructs me on how to play Chess. He learns so many things, is exposed to so many ideas and influences and has so many experiences thanks to his teachers and the other children at school. These are things he would not have if he were still home every day with me. I know my strengths and I also know my weaknesses; I do not have the patience to teach.
- My career
My career is something that I am proud of and a big part of what makes me who I am. After all, I devote much of my day, most of my days to it. It also affords me relationships with adults, intellectual stimulation; the ability to start and finish a cup of coffee while it is still warm. It allows me to financially provide for my son (and fund his education). It lends me confidence, and perspective and a very healthy dose of independence. All of which make me a better me, a better mother and a better role model.
- Accepting I can’t do it all
I used to think I could have and do it all. And I would argue to the end of the earth to prove wrong anyone who told me otherwise. Juggling a full-time career and a child was the perfect earth shattering-rug-out-from-under-me fall on my face first week on the job that I needed. (I almost missed his birthday dinner, forgot his lunch and locked him in the car with my cell…in the first three days). I wouldn’t have believed anything else. I need my family and I need my friends. It takes two villages really, one to help care for my son and the other to keep me sane in doing so. Because I had no choice but to accept this reality; my son and I both have better relationships with others and I know how to ask for help. Double bonus.
- My child’s confidence and independence
The little one just finished an all-day snow-boarding camp in Northern CA over the New Year. I loaded him in hats and gloves and helmets and goggles and layers upon layers and dropped him off at 9 am at an unfamiliar place with about 50 strangers so he could learn how do to something I love. He asked me what time I would be back to get him. He met my “3 pm” response with “cool, have a good day” and marched right on in. Didn’t cry, didn’t look back. He wasn’t scared to be on his own and trying new things with new people. He knows he will be okay and he knows I will always come back. I am really proud (and happy) for him. Some people struggle with that their whole life.
- Quality time
I set some serious boundaries in order to make sure our quality time bucket is filled. I very rarely work during the hours of 5 pm and 8 pm. That’s our time together. If there is still work to be done come 5 pm it is done after his bedtime. Our activities and chores always get done during the week so that are weekends are filled with time to snuggle, play and mostly do whatever we feel like doing, together. We soak it up and I truly enjoy spending time with him and miss him when he’s not around. I didn’t always feel that way.