I know I and other moms just want to do our best for our children. We want to keep them safe and healthy. We want to provide them with what they need...and, at times, what they want. We want to make sure they how how much they are loved. But why is it that no matter what you do and how much you do, when you drop your children off at preschool or at school, the Guilt Monster attacks?
Just recently, my two-year-old would cry as she watched me leave her with her teacher and classmates as I went off to work just three minutes away. It would break my heart, and I would think about how I quit my job when my oldest was a few months old to stay home with her. I was home for my middle child. My third was a surprise, and I was already back in the workforce when we learned about her pending debut. Anyway, there are times when I would sniffle down the hall as I exited the building, knowing she was in tears but eventually forget about missing me when she began playing.
Now, she doesn't cry. She waves good-bye, takes her friend's hand, and goes off to play. I, on the other hand, am the one who still sniffles down the hall. This time, not because she's crying, but because she's accepting and learning to let go. Something that I have informed my children that I will NEVER do with them. :)
So I surfed the Web, I stumbled on this article from iVillage:
"The next time you feel some hardcore mom-guilt because you have to leave your little one and go to work (and that would be tomorrow morning, right?), take heart: A review of 50 years’ worth of research, published online in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin, shows that tots whose moms head back to work in the first few years of their kids’ lives aren’t any more prone to academic or behavioral problems than those raised by SAHMs. Phew.
Researchers analyzed 69 studies conducted between 1960 and 2010 and found that in some cases, kids actually even benefited from having a working mom -- for example, in low-income homes where mom’s income resulted in less stress and more prospects for the child.
Of course, the findings aren’t all feel-good: The authors did note that going back to work full-time in a child’s first year was associated with slightly lower educational test scores, but working during years two and three “appeared to be advantageous for children’s achievement.”
Will this news settle the WM/SAHM debate once and for all? Not a chance. But for any mom who brings home a paycheck, it’s a nice bonus."
But for me, I've learned that the guilt isn't so much that they won't do well in school or have behavioral problems. I know many single moms who don't have a choice but to work. Their children are smart, well-behaved, and well-rounded. Their children were also well-disciplined. No, for me it's about accepting their independence and individuality. I can stay home with them and never encourage them, never lift a finger to help with their school work, never be involved. I can make myself "too busy" even if I stay at home. My children know that I will be there to help them with school, with friend "problems," with getting their hair done, with preparing treat bags for their friends, with so many things. My children know they are loved. My children also know that no matter how smart they are, they have to work to achieve success in school and in life. My children know that being a family is more important than TV or friends.
No, the Guilt Monster gets me at my expectations for myself. I want to be the best mother I can be for my children. I do not take my mandate to take care of these blessings lightly. I am amazed every day that God thought I was special enough to bless me with my children. But I will always wonder if I'm doing the very best I can for them. I will always wonder if I am giving them everything they need.
Then I realized that the Guilt Monster isn't so bad, as long as it just haunts me but never overpowers me. You see, as long as I still feel a little guilt, I know it's because there is that immense desire to be a great mother to my children. So I would rather sniffle down the hall or feel a little sad when my children are in school. That's because I ENJOY being with them, even when they misbehave. Don't get me wrong. There are times when I NEED "ME" time. But I like spending more time in my children's company than my own (or other people's for that matter). And I've come to accept that I would rather tolerate the Guilt Monster than feed any negativity from the Apathy Beast.