By: Heather Desmond O’Neill
“Mama, I’m going to miss you … just one more hug, please???”
Ugh. And guilt has kicked me in the stomach, again.
Being a working mom has its advantages and its disadvantages. There are mornings when I want to wake them, hold them and smother them with kisses, and there are mornings when I sneak out of the house and push my car into the street before starting it so as not to wake a soul.
I returned to work when my first-born was 6 months old. In those early mornings I would tiptoe into his room, rest my hand on his back, and wish him to stir so that I could hold him close and snuggle before heading off for the day. There were mornings when my heart ached as I left the house, feeling an emptiness that I never knew I could. I could not wait to get home and waste away the afternoon staring into his eyes and nuzzling with him on the couch.
When baby #2 arrived, I still felt the same, but somewhat enjoyed getting out of the house to go to work. I would still go in and rest my hand on their backs, but instead of wishing them awake, I would wish them to sleep because dealing with the cries of a newborn, or the pleas of a toddler for extra hugs and kisses were pure torture. And with the addition of baby#2, I learned there was no such thing as “wasting away an afternoon.” Every second is accounted for; feedings, diaper changes, story-time, potty training, trying not to neglect the older sibling…all the important stuff. Heading back to work was a welcomed change. I had conversations with adults, felt like I was actually a contributing member of society and was more than a milk source and bum wiper. But the trade-off was guilt. Unparalleled, extraordinary guilt.
I want to be that mom who spends unlimited time with her kids, makes home-made everything, is fit beyond belief, and makes it look like nothing. But that’s just not the case.
I’m a working mom. I’m lucky enough to enjoy my job and work with great people. This year, I have taken on a more administrative role at work and have been more pre-occupied than usual. I thought I had managed these two facets of my life pretty well, but that thinking has been very short-lived.
Yesterday I left work “on-time” and rushed home to see the boys. We took out every toy from the garage and had a wonderful time playing in the sunshine. I let myself go there and thought, maybe I could juggle this working mom thing. I started planning my mother-of-the-year acceptance speech and then I heard, “Mama, wasn’t I supposed to go to the doctor today?”
Guilt kicked me in the gut again.
I forgot the doctor’s appointment! And you know how far in advance you have to schedule them!!! I had a reminder on my phone, I got the email and phone call from the office, and I still forgot! My mother-of-the-year award flew right out the window.
As I was wallowing in the guilt, feeling horrible for wasting people’s time and dialing the office to reschedule, my extremely intelligent mother-in-law told me to stop worrying. “It wasn’t meant to be. You were supposed to be here playing with the kids in this beautiful weather.” And she was right. I was. So, I pushed guilt aside and enjoyed my afternoon.
Guilt will be there tomorrow to greet me, I’m sure. Until then, I’m off to play hide and seek and commit the sounds of my boys’ giggles to memory. I’m sorry I missed the appointment, but I can’t change it now. I’m happy to have the time to play with my boys.
Are you carrying around guilt? Have you ever forgotten an important appointment for your kids? How do you deal with it?