Yesterday afternoon I picked up my girls from school daycare. While walking to the yard where Lilly was playing, I noticed her old teacher was there playing with her. This particular teacher cared for Lilly for almost an entire year, and she was very attached to her. When the teacher left for another job a few weeks ago, Lilly was devastated, and it was very hard for her to say goodbye, and I’m sure Lilly was very excited that she came for a visit.
I wasn’t so excited.
I had the sinking feeling it would be hard to get Lilly to leave the teacher. My suspicions were confirmed when Lilly saw me walking up, and I didn’t even smile at me. She immediately looked away. Normally, when she sees me, she is excited and runs up to give me a hug. She may not always be ready to leave because she enjoys playing with her friends, but she is always happy that I am there. So when she didn’t even smile at me yesterday, it broke my heart a little bit.
I tried to talk her into coming home with me, and she simply wasn’t having it. I literally had to pick her up kicking and screaming and carry her to the car. While all the teachers and parents watched. It was humiliating. And it made me very sad. I know she loves this particular teacher, and she has obviously missed her, but I still want to be number one in her life. I still want her to want me over everyone else.
Of course as soon as this happened, my old friends “guilt” and “doubt” came for a visit. They sat down right next to me and started saying:
“Lilly doesn’t love you because you never spend any time with her.”
“You are selfish for working so much.”
“You shouldn’t leave her at daycare so much.”
Guilt and doubt made me start questioning my decision to work. I felt as though Lilly wasn’t attached to me, and of course, I blamed that on the fact that I work so much. As a working mother, I carry a lot of guilt about how much time my girls spend at daycare. Any time something goes wrong, I blame it on my job. But why is it that every time I face something difficult in parenting, I automatically assume the difficulty wouldn’t exist if I stayed home with my girls? Wouldn’t I simply have a different set of challenges if I worked less or stayed home?
Some people might not understand this – but I do not want to stay at home with my girls. I enjoy my job, and I’ve worked hard to have the position that I’m in. I do not want to give all that up. And if we’re being honest, I stay home with my girls on Fridays, and by the end of that day, I’m miserable and counting the minutes until my husband gets home. I’m unhappy and I know I’m not giving them my best. I realize not everyone feels this way, and I have the utmost respect for my friends who stay home with their kids. But I know it’s not for me.
I think there’s a misconception that because I choose to work, I don’t miss my girls while they are at school, or it’s easy for me to drop them off each morning. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find the right “balance” in the hopes that then everything will fall into place and be easy. In my opinion, “easy” is an illusion. I have balance. I love my job. But it’s still hard on some days. Just because it’s right, doesn’t mean it’s easy. And that’s okay.
Brittany is a wife, part time attorney, and full time mom. Her oldest daughter, Lilly, is the smartest, sassiest, funniest two year old the world has ever seen. Her younger daughter, Colette, lights up the world every day with her infectious grin and sweet disposition. She’s eternally grateful for her husband, who has likely changed more stinky diapers than she has. She balances juggles work, motherhood, and marriage with a little bit of humor, lots of coffee, and the occasional wine night with friends.