Baby crying at daycare

Drop off + Tears = Mommy Guilt

Baby crying at daycare

My 3.5 year old is just starting to figure out that some mommies, likely seemingly better mommies in his estimation, stay home. They do not go to work. Their job is to watch their children.  The first conversation went something like this:

“Mommy. Andy’s mommy does not go to work. She stays home and watches Andy.”  (Andy is the little boy in Toy Story.)

“Well, I watch you and I go to work,” I say, trying not to panic. “Aren’t you proud that mommy went to school for a long time and works really hard to make a difference in the world? Isn’t it nice that I earn money to buy us food and clothes and TOYS?”  (I figure the “toys” insertion will win the day – it does.)

“Yes, Mommy.”

Mommy – 1; mommy-guilt – 0…for that day.

Cut to three days later, however.

We experience the worst drop-off at preschool/daycare since approximately age two.  Complete with leg-hanging, teacher-pulling, arms-outreaching, tears-falling, heartbreaking “But I miss you”s.  This wonderful day’s conversation went something like this.  No, exactly like this – I cannot forget the words this time.

“Mommy, why do you have to go to work?  Why can’t you stay home?”

“Well, a lot of people depend on me to be at work and I need to make money to buy you toys.”  I am certain the little guy can hear the desperation in my voice as I try to resort back to the “toys” win of the other day.

“But why can’t you just stay home for one day?”

“I do.  I stay home on Saturdays and Sundays.”

“But why can’t you just stay home for one school day?”

“Because, son.  I work, and you play and learn with your friends at school.”  SIGH.

“But, Mommy, I miss you.”

Terrible drop-off day two.  The tears today were mine.  Let’s face it, I really want to cling to his leg and hold my arms out for “one more hug.”  Six years from now (if I am lucky to make it that long), he will not want to spend this time with me.  He will not want “one more hug.”  I do what I tell him, though.

I keep him in my heart.  I look forward to the afternoon.  I read to him.  I play on the floor with him.  I hug him.  I kiss him.  I tell him I believe in him and that I am proud of him.  I love him.  Then, I go to work, and come home, and prepare to do it all over again the next day.  Because that is what a working mom does.  Because, one day, he will be proud of me, too.

7 thoughts on “Drop off + Tears = Mommy Guilt

  1. Susan Feakins Masry says:

    Love this, Lauren! The end got me choked up, I really relate to what you write.

  2. This basically sums up my morning – I pleaded with AJG not to have a meltdown as we were sitting in the doorway. Today it worked, it hasn’t in the past, and I know it won’t in the future. And it breaks my heart. But I’m doing what’s best for both of us! Thank you, Lauren!

  3. The trick here is I think not to feel guilty. if you don’t then he will be fine. There are many moms that stay home with their kids & their kids suffer cuz all they do is yell all day. I think you just need to hug him & empathize “I know…you REALLY wish mommy could stay home with you allll day”. End of story

  4. Angela Adriatico says:

    I need a hug now too from my lil guy……

  5. Everyone needs to realize that you have to do what is best for your family. I used to have a tremendous amount of guilt about working but I didn’t have a choice nor did I want to waste the masters degree I so diligently worked on for several years. I enjoy working but I also love my son. Fortunantly for me, we haven’t had the why can’t you stay home conversation. He is surrounded by kids of working parents at preschool and honestly I am not sure he knows the difference. However, that doesn’t keep me from having a tremendous amount of guilt. I have learn to live with it. I am working to provide for my family. To give my kids the things I didn’t have growing up. Would it be nice to stay home, sure, but that isn’t what God had planned for my family. My son is about to go to kinder this fall and I am positive that he will be a well-rounded, well adjusted child. He’s smart, creative and loving. I think I’m doing pretty well as a working mom even though the city where I live does not support working moms very well. Gymnastics, music lessons, swimming – all during the day. I am sure there are working moms out there. I can’t possibly be the only one. For now my guilt has subsided. However, I am due with my second in August and I wonder will I have to go through it all again?

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