Between my posts on anxiety, exercise, and feeling the need to control something even if it’s just my son’s play room, I think this site has become an outlet for people asking, “Is it just me?” So here we go again…
I don’t deal with a ton of mommy guilt for working full-time. When I first went back to work, I was a pile of tears and worries, as I had never done it before. I couldn’t focus, I wanted to be with my son and I felt like I was doing him a disservice. BUT. But as the months went on, and I realized that as a teacher, I do have shorter hours and more vacations than most working mothers, I came to accept my current status. I like days off with my son. And most of the time, I also like days that I work. I’ve begun to balance the scales, even allowing myself the me time to exercuse every day so I feel strong and healthy. My boy is happy when he’s with his Abuela, and we have a good thing going.
The problem? Even though I don’t consciously feel guilty or sit at my desk wondering what my kid is doing while I’m teaching other people’s kids, something like guilt still creeps up somehow. At least I think it’s guilt. Because, you see, I feel the need to compensate for being a working mother. Make it up to my son somehow. What I mean by that is that when I do pick up my son or when I do have a day off with him, I feel that it needs to be something special, something memorable, something to write home about. Quality, since we can’t have quantity.
For spring break this year, we’re planning our first real family vacation. We’re not just going to stay in a cheap hotel for two days and pinch pennies. We’re not going to rush. And my husband and I are certainly not going away without our son. We’re going to downtown Disney, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom as a family, and we’re going to do it up, take pictures, eat expensive food and enjoy ourselves. In my head, I’m already planning that because I know it’s the next time I’ll really get to spend any quality time with my son that isn’t interrupted by a quick dinner and bed time routine.
On the day to day, I tend to do little things like stop at Toys R Us on the way home either before or after I pick up my son. If I go before, I surprise him with something. If I go after… Well, he’s still too young to really “pick out” something, but if he runs around and ends at something that piques his interest, I’ll pick it up, take it home, open it up and play with him until dinner/work out/bath/whatever-is-next time, in the hopes that he feels taken care of, important and… I guess so that he has positive feelings toward our limited amount of time together.
I realized lately that I’m probably doing this too much, and that it’s going to set a bad precedent for later when he can understand. I also realized this Saturday morning that running around the house, reading books, pushing trains around in his jammies, he’s perfectly content. He doesn’t need a play date or a new toy. I guess I’m the one who needs it?
I read a tweet from a mom recently where she admitted that her school age son and daughter complain if they don’t have a play date or activity every weekend. I think I’m setting myself up for that… I don’t want my son to be spoiled or unappreciative. I don’t want him to expect some kind of possession each time I’m gone or expect that it’s my sole purpose in life to entertain him. I need to find the balance.
So, any tips for me on how to navigate this working momma gig and make sure my son feels that he has quality time with me when I am home? You know, without having to take trips to the zoo and toy store every day after work? And, as per usual… is it just me?