Mother’s guilt

Somebody hug me!

I just dropped my nine-month-old baby girl, Smiley, off to daycare for the first time.

I am sitting here with the house to myself for two whole hours. No husband, no kids, just me. I cannot remember the last time I was completely alone. It’s weird.

On the way home from daycare, I made a mental list of all the things I should do in these two hours. Instead of putting my feet up to watch some telly, or read a book, treat myself to a movie, a lunch date, or anything nice for me really, I felt that I should punish myself.

Mother’s guilt has got me bad. Its hands are tightening around my throat, it is creeping up my back to my shoulders and neck, and I just feel, well, crazy. Just crazy and guilty.

Guilty that I am sending Smiley to daycare when she’s so young, guilty that we can’t afford for me to be a stay at home mum, guilty that I’m kind of looking forward to going back to work, guilty that I’m a little excited, guilty that she will be left with strangers and if she cries I won’t be there to wipe away her tears and make her giggle. Yes, your honour, I am guilty as charged.

On the trip home from daycare I decided that for my sins, I should make some homemade meals for Smiley, I would make a dent in the ironing, mop the floors, and clean the bathrooms scrubbing the tiles like Lady Macbeth.

I frustrate myself because I should be used to the idea of daycare by now and being a working mum.

Curly-locks, my almost-three-year-old, has been going to daycare since she was 10 months old. The early days were really tough with her. She cried. I cried. Even now on bad days the carers have to peel her off me. Like this morning when her so called best friend told her that they weren’t best friends anymore and she is now best friends with someone else. I felt like crying along with Curly-locks.

On the whole though, she loves it. She is challenged socially, creatively and intellectually. It is good for her and us. We couldn’t be happier with the Centre we chose and the carers.

I can’t help but struggle with sending my baby there though when she can’t walk or talk to tell people how she is feeling. I will potentially miss out on her taking her first steps and uttering her first real words.

There are just two carers looking after eight kids aswell. There is no way they can give my little darling as much attention and love as I could give her at home.

My mum was a stay at home mum and we loved having her drop us off to school, pick us up, play with us, and help us with our homework. I want the same for my children, but I am also torn. I seem to have this pull back to work. I want to get back there to challenge myself, to start climbing the corporate ladder again and … to socialise.

There is also the expectation from society that mothers should be able to do it all. These days it seems to be the norm that women juggle motherhood and career. It is overwhelming and exhausting.

In this household anyway, the decision is out of our hands as we need me to earn money.

The best thing I can do now is to find peace with the decision that Dave and I have made and what we believe is best for our family.

Well half an hour of my two hour break has passed and I am feeling slightly more normal now that I have blogged my emotions out rather than stirring them up further punishing myself with chores.

Instead of a list of punishments for myself, I am now making a list of things for me that I can do in the remainder of my two hours alone.

  1. Dance to music that is not Justine Clarke, The Wiggles, Yo Gabba Gabba or Strawberry Shortcake.
  2. Make myself a delicious lunch and eat it slowly and in peace.
  3. Catch up on Keeping up with the Kardashians.
  4. Do nothing.

Are you a stay at home mum or a working mother? Was it a tough decision for you or out of your hands?

33 comments on Mother’s guilt

  1. Lisa Wood
    July 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm (4 years ago)

    I so feel for you, and hear you.
    I have been a stay at home Mum, as well as a Working Mum πŸ™‚
    And the Mother Guilt always gets me now matter what decisions I have made over the years, but at the end of the day as long as everyone is happy then the family will be happy. At that is all that matters.
    I like the saying that it takes “The Whole community to raise a child”- and it so very true, in your case its a community of carers πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. mummywifeme
    mummywifeme
    July 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks for your long comment, Lisa. It’s what I needed to hear right now. Thank you πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. Lisa@Circle of Toast
    July 11, 2013 at 2:12 am (4 years ago)

    I’m a SAHM, and have been since my first child was born. Financially it’s been tough, and we’ve had to do without some things, and there is always uncertainty about meeting some financial obligations – we’ve never had a brand new car, or a big pool, or overseas holidays. But for us the sacrifice was worth it, I would not trade that time with my kids for anything. But every family is different. What works for one family might not work for another. You and your husband have made the decisions that are right for you, and if you are confident and secure in your decision, then your children will be happy because you are happy. It sounds like you’re doing a great job! πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 11, 2013 at 9:28 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Lisa. That’s wonderful. Sounds like you are extremely happy with your decision. Good on you. I guess that I need to remember that no decision is forever. If I don’t like the juggling act, we can try to make some changes in our lives to make it work.

      Reply
  4. Leanne Winter
    July 11, 2013 at 7:45 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Renee, I’m in the same position as you, I have to work for financial reasons. When mothers say this rarely do they mean they work to pay for overseas holidays, swimming pools and new cars. I work so that we can pay our medium sized mortgage, put petrol in the second hand car and keep the kids clothed and fed. Take solace, as I do, in the fact that there are enjoyable aspects to working as you point out. Many, many, mothers do this and if the day care quality is good then all the good large-scale research suggests there are no harmful consequences – even some great benefits for them. Well done on getting through the first day.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 11, 2013 at 9:29 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Leanne. You have definitely made me feel better. As long as we are all happy we can continue on this way. If things change though, we will certainly have to reassess the situation and adapt to it.

      Reply
  5. Ai Sakura
    July 12, 2013 at 9:10 am (4 years ago)

    I’m a FTWM and it’s definitely tough leaving my girl in the care of someone else but knowing that she’s happy there to make friends and learn stuff, it makes it slightly easier. Not guilt-free, but better. When she enters primary school I hope/plan to cut back on work to have more time to spend with her and help her with school work. It gets pretty crazy in SG when ou enter formal schooling.

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 10:33 am (4 years ago)

      Yes, I can imagine. I admire how you can work full time. It sounds like you are all happy though which is great. When my two go to school I would like to cut back hours too. I’d like to be able to pick them up from school and help with their homework.

      Reply
  6. Sam Stone
    July 12, 2013 at 11:03 am (4 years ago)

    It is so hard to take them to daycare. I was so torn with my first, she is now five. SHe started daycare when she was 10 months. Our little man is 6 months and he will also start at 10 months. Unfortunately, can’t be a SAHM.
    Every mum gets the mummy guilts. Try to be kind to yourself. xo

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Sam. You too, when it comes to your second’s turn x

      Reply
  7. Katyberry
    July 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh, I hear you. My little ones all went to daycare from 6 months. Even now, with my youngest, some days are hard at drop off.
    On the whole I don’t regret being a working mum. I love my work, I love the satisfaction and independence it gives me, I love the social aspect. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it is working. All this week the girls have wanted to sleep in and have cried getting out of bed at 6:15am. I just feel awful.
    For me, the important thing is to be present when I am present – if you understand my meaning. Put the bloody phone down and stop playing on facebook and engage with them all. Plenty of time for my own stuff when I’m commuting, at work, or the girls are asleep. When they are around, I need to be mindful of that. It doesn’t mean dropping everything for them at all times, stuff still needs to be done at home that “isn’t fun” (I’m told this ALL THE TIME), but I make an effort as best I can.
    Best wishes to you. The feeling never entirely goes away, but you’ll find your version of balance.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Katrina πŸ™‚ Sounds like you’ve had a really rubbish week. You must be exhausted. ‘Be present’ is one of the things I wrote down on my list of intentions at the beginning of the year. It is so important!

      Reply
  8. Me
    July 12, 2013 at 1:44 pm (4 years ago)

    I think you should be using child free time to look after yourself – doing whatever you want.
    I went back to work when K was 4 weeks old. It was a financial decision for us as well. I didn’t really love my job but I enjoyed the interaction with people. I am the first to admit I am not a SAHM, never was, never will be I’m just not that maternal. And I have no guilt about it – it is who I am.
    Enjoy every single minute that you have to yourself and do it doing what you want without the mother guilt !
    Love, hugs and positive energy !
    Me

    Reply
  9. mummywifeme
    mummywifeme
    July 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you. Yes, I think next week I will definitely set aside some me time. It is so important to do. I am looking forward to the social interaction at work and getting back there. I will have to take a leaf out of your book and try to not feel so guilty.

    Reply
  10. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    July 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm (4 years ago)

    Renee, I really hope you did use that time to do something for yourself!
    I’m pretty sure we all suffer from mother guilt at some point, but sometimes it’s what we build up in our own minds.
    It sounds like you’re doing what is the best for you, your babies and your whole family.
    Don’t be so hard on yourself honey, you do an awesome job. xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Lisa πŸ™‚ x

      Reply
  11. Neets
    July 12, 2013 at 7:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Oh Renee, I remember that day too well. Be strong. The first day is so very hard. πŸ™‚ Hope you got through the day x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you. I did and she loved it x

      Reply
  12. Grace
    July 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm (4 years ago)

    I had severe mother’s guilt when the boys first went to daycare. But now I realise how great it is for them to socialise and interact with other kids and how important it is for me to have my time. I love daycare days because I do make myself a nice lunch and I get to write and just be!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes, there are definitely benefits all around. I don’t go back to work for another two months and the more I think about it the more I am looking forward to those few Wednesdays that the kids will be at daycare and I will be home alone!

      Reply
  13. Bea
    July 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm (4 years ago)

    I planned to be stay at home, for years friends called me “pippa”(remember Home and Away?) I was absolutely sure that i’d love it… But after 6 months at home I realised no one would win with 7days a week of togetherness! Very happily back to work part time and everyone is winning! Now on maternity leave again and loving this new baby time but counting down till a little piece of the old me is allowed back in. daycare provides skills and experiences that I don’t, and that’s a gift to my little lady!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol, Pippa πŸ˜‰ You are completely right. The more I think about it the more I can see how good it can be for everyone.

      Reply
      • Bea
        July 17, 2013 at 2:51 pm (4 years ago)

        Dropped my lady bug at daycare ard she cried,”please mumma, I love you don’t go”…breaking my heart! After such a positive run off love for the place today was doom!

        Reply
        • Bea
          July 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm (4 years ago)

          *of

          Reply
        • mummywifeme
          mummywifeme
          July 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm (4 years ago)

          Oh boy, that’s hard Bea. I had a not so good drop off today too *sob* Hang in there πŸ™‚

          Reply
  14. Emily
    July 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm (4 years ago)

    I’m a SAHM and I still get the guilts when I get just a few minutes to myself. Ridiculous, the hoops we make ourselves jump through, isn’t it?

    I always thought I’d go crazy at home, and thought I’d be back at work six months after having our first. A year, tops. Three years in and I’m still at home. It’s just the way it worked out.

    I hope that you enjoyed the rest of your me-time and that Smiley loved care x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 13, 2013 at 9:30 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Emily. Smiley loved daycare, so that made it alot easier. It is definitely ridiculous the hoops we make ourselves jump through. I’m glad you’re loving your time at home πŸ™‚

      Reply
  15. Kim @ spirited mama
    July 12, 2013 at 11:35 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Renee it was really interesting to read your post because I wrote one almost identical the other night but kept it in draft as I wanted to finish part b of my imagination series. My daughter is at school now but i still suffer mama guilt for daycare. My daughter was in a great daycare centre, everything was good but it still breaks my heart i had to work through her babyhood … i know i’ve got to let it go one day but it’s so hard … makes me choke up just writing this … I’m glad you were able to give yourself some nice ways to enjoy the day, kim x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 13, 2013 at 9:32 am (4 years ago)

      Ahhh Kim. Sending hugs to you right now. It can just be soooo hard. I would love to read your post when you publish it. Take care x

      Reply
  16. Maxabella
    July 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm (4 years ago)

    It takes a village to raise a resillent, confident child. x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm (4 years ago)

      Never a truer word spoken x

      Reply
  17. Emily @ Have a laugh on me
    July 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm (4 years ago)

    I think guilt is part of the job description but it’s all about keeping it in check! I work from home and still have to put in daycare, to get my writing done! I used to feel guilty but don’t anymore, they LOVE it, I love it and I’m a nicer mummy with a break from them – you are doing a fab job and enjoy the peace while you can xx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm (4 years ago)

      Likewise, Emily πŸ™‚ I think it will take just a little while to get used to it again and then I’ll be fine x

      Reply

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