Is Mom Guilt Real?

So is mom guilt real?

Hi, my name is Melissa de Castro and I am a working mother. I am also a professional Registered Early Childhood Educator, a wife and the proud owner of our Innisfil Preschool Canada childcare centre.
As a full-time mother of 3, I get asked all these questions all the time: “How the heck do you do it?”, “How do you run a company, come home and deal with everything else?” “Do you not have serious mom guilt?”.

So here is the thing. My mom guilt has evolved throughout the years. When my children were little, I felt very torn. I felt that I needed to be there at all times. I felt that they needed me at all times. I remember dropping them off at childcare and crying my eyes out. I remember feeling this pain in my gut like no other. I remember feeling like I was the WORST MOTHER IN THE WORLD because I decided/or I needed to return to work. The reality is, most households require two working parents. Most mother’s need to return to work after maternity leave and you know what? Most children adjust well to childcare (of any sort).

So let’s get back to the topic…

Mom guilt and how real it is. Mom guilt is like no other guilt. When you are at work, you are just thinking about what you have to do both at work and at home and how you are hoping to sneak in a bit of quality time with your children. When your children are not feeling well, you absolutely feel sick just thinking about calling in sick or contemplate in sending your unwell child to childcare/school, knowing well that you will regret it when your child’s teacher calls you indicating that your child is not feeling great and he/she needs to be picked up. This mom guilt feels yucky.

Next stage of mom guilt
Not being able to attend all school trips or special events. This stage typically occurs once your children enter kindergarten. Listen, nothing beats missing your child’s first day of school. When I worked as a Designate Early Childhood Educator (Simcoe Public District School Board) I missed my twins first day of kindergarten. I still can not wrap my head around it. I was there welcoming all of our kinders into our class, yet I was not able to send off my children to school on their first day. Now that was serious MOM GUILT!

Next stage of mom guilt
Fast forward a few years and you get evenings which consist of you rushing home from work, putting together a fast dinner, only to be bombarded with tons of homework (not your homework, but your child’s homework, which becomes your homework…weird right?) and finished off by some sort of activity. You become either a soccer mom, hockey mom, dance mom, karate mom, basketball mom, etc. All of this is great, but all of this is squeezed into whatever time you have left in your day. Your guilt kicks in because you are not too sure if you are successfully helping your child in any of these areas and if you have more then one child like me. Well, then you are literally just stretched in all directions and praying that you are doing something right.

My current mom guilt
As many of you know, I followed my passion and opened a childcare centre in Innisfil. Starting any business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Many hours are spent grinding and literally pouring out all of your energy into your company. Now, if my mom guilt was not already tipping over the brim of my coffee mug lol. It now is overflowing. I can not stress to you all how hard I work and how hard I try to find the balance which I need to make everything work. In the beginning stages, I was working 12 to 14 hour days. I would open my childcare, close it, cover breaks, serve lunch and clean it. It was mentally exhausting, and yet satisfying. Fast forward 10 months and I finally found myself at a position where I could leave my centre around 5 p.m. and come in closer to 8:30 a.m. Now the guilt which I was experiencing was not mom guilt, but work guilt. I felt bad that I was not there to greet every family, clean every room, facilitate every classroom, deal with every inquiry and close every night. This guilt was real and still is. What helps me get through this is my mom guilt. I want to move away from a 12 hour day and move closer to a normal working day. Ironically, this helps my mom guilt. I feel better knowing that I am no longer working as long, yet still accomplishing so much within my day. I guess I am working harder and even more efficient.

So why do we have MOM GUILT? Why can we not spin it and tell ourselves that we are allowing our children to be resilient? That we are providing our children with great experiences and opportunities in childcare. Opportunities that we ourselves may not be able to give them in our home space. Why are we allowing ourselves to feel guilty because we have chosen to have a career outside our homes?
My mom guilt still creeps up every so often; however, I have learned that “I want to show my children that I can do it and that they can too”. There is no right or wrong way of raising children. We need to stop feeling so guilty about everything. One thing we need to remember is that happy children are healthy children. As long as your child is happy, you should feel happy and proud of what you are doing.

In conclusion, I meet many moms every day and I can empathize with how they are feeling. I know how hard it is to entrust your child in childcare and go to work. This is why I do what I do. I work really hard to make sure that families feel safe in our centre. I am not perfect. No one is, but I do know what mom guilt is, and I try really hard to help other moms as they navigate through their own mom guilt. I think that mom guilt should be less of a taboo and more of a hill which needs to be climbed and with time lessened, only to be climbed again. Motherhood is a journey and mom guilt is real; however, children are resilient and we mom’s need to know that we are doing great!

So to all you moms dealing with mom guilt. I want to reassure you all that you are doing your best and that you are not alone and that this feeling is real.

Hang in there. Some days will be better than others, but you will figure it out. One day at a time!

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