By Tracy, Managing Editor
Last week, Katherine sent me a tweet with a link to a working momma related post on one of Parenting Magazine’s blogs. (This post stemmed from an original post on this blog on the Wall Street Journal.) I was told it was about being a working mom and missing milestones. This topic alone made me stabby all over. But of course I ran over to read it. And what I found was more of a question to us working mommas.
Do You Want To Know About Baby Milestones You’re Missing?
This was the biggest fear I had as Abby transitioned into daycare. Would I miss her crawling for the first time? Would I miss her waving bye bye for the first time? Would I miss her first word? Would I miss her first steps? Would I miss…Would I miss…Would I miss? I could go on and on.
And this makes me feel guilty. No matter if you are a working mom, a stay at home mom, a single mom, or any type of mom really, you get momma guilt. Our guilt may stem from different things, but the underlying feelings are all the same. And they suck. They make you feel inadequate. They make you feel like you are failing your child in one way or another. They just make you feel all stabby.
My gut, when first reading this question, wanted to ask the question back, “Why the hell do you feel the need to make me feel at fault for the choices I have made to become a working mom?” When I feel attacked, I want to attack back. It’s part of my human nature. I felt like as a working mom, simply asking that question was judging me.
And really, I feel judged all the time as a working mom. From a co-worker with grown children and grandbabies of her own, who often tells me that she could never have been a teacher when her kids where babies. From the doctor’s office receptionist who tries to tell me that being late to an appointment with Abby will result in me being rescheduled, despite my efforts to explain to her my commute and picking up Abby antics. From our pediatrician who nonchalantly gave us specific numbers as to how many more times Abby is going to get sick than a kid not in daycare. From my students who don’t understand why I won’t take sick days, even when I struggle to speak, because those are now reserved for Abby sick days. From other moms who just can’t seem to fathom why I would work when I could simply stay at home, like that’s the only way it should be.
But then I took a step back, and really thought about the question. Do I want to know about Abby milestones I’m missing while I’m working? And the answer is absolutely, 200% yes.
The first time I missed a milestone, I was sad. What mom wouldn’t be? Abby first showed her scooting around skills to her daycare teachers by slightly moving backwards. She never really did this much after that, and we waited another month or so before she actually took off crawling, so I didn’t mind. And her first tooth…they noticed that one before we did. Again, another sad, but then I had a ton of time to study that first tooth and watch it poke through her gums. (Seriously, every day I would check that sucker out.)
But then I think about all that I have seen. Her first steps were taken during the holidays last year. We were all home to see it. The first time she walked backwards, we saw that too, with all of the amazement on her face as she realized what was going on. Giggles and saying “Momma” and “Dadda,” we heard all of those firsts too.
I feel very lucky to have seen so many of her milestones. It’s all about timing really, and time for milestones seems to be mostly on my side.
But when I miss something, I don’t want to not know about it. I mean it’s their job as childcare teachers to teach Abby new skills. In fact, they are responsible for getting Abby to sign “please” and subsequently her learning the word. When I noticed she was doing this at home, I asked them about it. They told me how she had been signing “please” for weeks. They know so many parents work with their toddlers to sign so they didn’t think about the fact that Abby was doing it for them first. It was an exciting thing, really, as I could really see how much they foster learning in Abby.
But as she gets older, as she’s almost 2, I realize that there are tons of things she is going to do and her teachers will be the ones to teach her and see firsts. This is especially with words these days. Abby daily picks up so many new words. It all starts with repeating what she hears. “Oh really, Mommy,” is an example. I sarcastically say “Oh really” to her and all of a sudden she got it. So of course there are different words spoken at daycare that she is going to learn first from them. And will I be upset? Will I be territorial about Abby’s learning? Nope. Not at all. Especially as a teacher, I know it’s their job to teach our children to accomplish milestones appropriate for her age. In fact, if Abby didn’t come home these days with new skills learned, and new words to say, I’d be upset.
So I’ve learned to set aside this guilt. For now.