I work full time in a career that I enjoy and am passionate about, and my partner works more than full time, which means our kids are in full time childcare. There is not a doubt in my mind this is the best arrangement for our family. My kids are with professionals skilled in not only caring for them with kindness and concern, but also in providing them with countless developmentally targeted activities and experiences. I do not worry one second of any day about them while they are there. In fact, I’m usually so happy for them because they are so happy.
But some days I drop them off and feel awful. That’s the truth.
If we’ve had an especially hard or emotional morning or if one kiddo doesn’t feel the greatest, it’s hard to leave them for the day. But with only ten sick days a year, I use them sparingly and only for the really serious stuff. Which means there are plenty of days that I would rather be with my kids at home, or on an adventure, than sitting in meetings and having innovative conversations with adults.
Working mom guilt is real and it sucks.
Thankfully, it’s not even close to every day. But on the days when it hits, it hits me hard. Nothing in my inbox feels as important as coloring with my toddler. I can lose myself looking at their pictures and drawings all around my desk.
I don’t expect special treatment at work because I’m a parent, but I have become better at speaking up about my needs as they relate to being a full-time employee and also a parent. My boss knows, because I shared with her, that childcare costs $1 per minute per child if I have to pick them up late. I block my calendar off as busy at the time I have to leave to pick them up. I communicate early when I schedule pediatrician appointments. Additionally, Minnesota law also makes some small guarantees for working parents.* But an understanding employer and state laws only do so much to assuage feelings.
So yes, some days it is really, really hard to drop my kids off at childcare and go to work. It can feel like a heavy weight. Other days as they trot off to play with their friends and I sit down to engage with un-listened to communities, I remember that this is the best setup for my family. We are all fulfilled, challenged, excited and content most every day.
And that is something to be grateful for.
*THE SCHOOL CONFERENCE AND ACTIVITIES LEAVE STATUTE: State law allows you to leave work to attend a child’s conference or activity. You may also leave work to drop in on your childcare provider. Try to arrange time off with your employer in advance. This law applies to all employees in Minnesota and allows them up to 16 hours of unpaid leave in a year. It applies to all children (from birth through 12th grade) who are in a family childcare home; a childcare center; a half-day or preschool program; Head Start; pre-kindergarten; regular or special education; or school.