You guys, I’ve been having a lot of really good parenting conversations with friends over the last few days, and while a lot of themes are consistent there’s one that’s particularly sticking out to me and that’s guilt. Ahh…good ole gilt…we all have it and we all hate it. It comes in all shapes and sizes and does not discriminate. We harbor guilt for so many different reasons: work, schedule conflicts, sickness, even wishing we had 2 minutes of alone time makes us feel awful. Guilt sucks, bottom line. We may never be able to fully get rid of it, but maybe there are ways to try to work with it.
I’m not one who feels guilty about every little thing when it comes to my kids, especially as they get older and can comprehend situations more completely. The biggest guilt I’ve had as a parent is when I decided to go back to work and put our son in daycare full time. It was crazy because before he went to daycare we had a nanny taking care of him and I never even flinched when I would leave him with her. I don’t know what it was, but on the first day that I dropped him off, I cried in the director’s office worse than my son did at hand off….like a baby! She assured me that I was not the first mother to blubber in her office and that he would be fine. Of course I knew this, I just could not shake the guilt. Now, I’m also not the mom who calls daycare to check in and see how they’re doing, I go with the notion that no news is good news and if I don’t get a call then great, it’s all good. In the end everyone survived and he enjoyed 4 years with them. I credit them with helping to shape the child he has become. I thank them for instilling values and manners beyond what we have done. I can also say that my 3 year old attends the same daycare and I don’t feel one bit of guilt when I drop him off in the mornings…not one. Clearly I’ve made peace with the childcare thing.
Most recently though, I had to leave my big kid in NY with my husband while I took my little guy to Florida for a family emergency. We were there for 2 weeks without them…imagine my guilt! Yes, I knew I had no choice but to go and leave them behind, school and activity obligations took precedence, it still didn’t make the decision any easier. My husband is more than capable of taking care of our children, so I didn’t really worry about either one of their well beings (well, maybe I worried a little about my husband’s because he’s not as versed in moment to moment operations in our house), but I missed them like crazy and I felt guilty for separating the boys. It was all okay when they were able to finally join us and we could be together again. Reassurance from my husband, son, friends and family helped ease the guilt during our separation, but it didn’t fully go away until I had them in my arms.
I think for me at least, dealing with my guilt boils down to not sweating every single thing. There are so many situations you can obsess over, it will literally weigh you down and make you crazy. I’ve learned that I can’t control everything and honestly, I don’t want to, it’s too exhausting. I know my children are in good hands when they’re not with me. I know they’re happy and growing and learning. I know I am too. I’m thankful for the village that keeps us going, that encourages us and helps us. It makes everything easier…I encourage you to find your village and come to an understanding with your guilt. Your children need you most, but they need their own freedom too.