Working mom of two, Jessica Baxter, grapples with mom guilt
I got to do the school run today. I never get to do the school run. I’m always rushing the kids out the door, while frantically trying to finish my make-up – and that last sip of coffee – before heading to work.
I’ve never questioned this morning routine and actually quite like having one less thing on my to-do list every day. Until today when I saw just how much it meant to my kids to have Mom pick them up.
Their absolute delight at seeing me filled me with a burst of happiness followed quickly by a familiar pang of guilt. The same guilt I felt when I couldn’t breastfeed. The same guilt I felt when my son was born premature. The same guilt I carried with me on my first day back at work.
Mom guilt, I realise, is with you from the start and never quite leaves
Not being able to tuck my kids in some nights or having to leave them in the care of the nanny when they’re sick is when I feel it the most. Small moments, perhaps, but no less important in their childhood memory banks – and just as fleeting.
I sat with these feelings, quietly obsessing over my failings as a parent, while I waited for a friend I was meeting for dinner. She arrived a little flustered, admitting she snuck out her daughter’s room a few back rubs shy of her being completely asleep because she knew she was running late to meet me.
Totally normal behaviour in my opinion, but I could see it left her wracked with guilt
Despite being a stay-at-home mom – and a good one at that – she spent her one night off, checking her phone, anxious that her daughter had woken up and she wasn’t there to settle her back to sleep.
In that moment, I realised that not working isn’t the answer to eradicating mom guilt forever. Whether you’re staying home with the kids, as some of my friends have chosen to do, or pursuing your career ambitions, mom guilt is something we all feel. It’s like a rite of passage.
While I don’t want to miss out on moments with my children, I also don’t want to lose sight of who I was before I became a mother.
Now, when I feel that guilt taking hold, I remind myself that, for me, having a job I’m passionate about makes me a better mom, albeit a time-starved one, and that what is really important is making the most of every moment with my kids – even the small ones like the school pickup.