Mom guilt. Dad guilt. Gramma and Grampa guilt. We all have it, and there seems to be no escape. I’ve been a working Mom, with the guilt of not being with my babies enough, and I’m now a stay at home Mom, with the guilt of not using my time wisely enough with my children. Never ending guilt.
As I laid our 8 month old down for his mid-day nap, the other day, I heard a song that was so real for me. I feel the lyrics in Lady Antebellum’s “What I’m Leaving For” ring true for so many of us parents.
Lyrics that speak to us.
I’d like you to take a listen, or read the lyrics at the bottom of the page,and tell me what you think. Now go get your tissues before you scroll down, because you’re going to need them. But wait! A little backstory first. Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood, and Hillary Scott make up the trio. Between the three, there are six kids— three of which were born right after their 2017 album release. Kelley, Haywood and Scott have worked with the songwriters of “What I’m leaving For” several times before, and actually wrote this song based on the trio’s lives and experiences. Scott actually had to leave the room when they were trying to record the song, because she was sobbing so hard. Super relatable folks.
Take a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgtyzSe7cxM
Straight through the heart.
Man, oh man. Doesn’t that get you right to the core?! It does for me. I see my house. I see our kids. The trip we took to Disney. Our kids waving from the hand print covered windows. Setting the table together, and sitting there for dinner as we tell stories from our day, or finish a game of Life.
I also see some heartache from when I was a working mom. I was a working Mom at a television news station. Along with many other challenges, my job meant terrible hours for family. Because of my hours, and where we lived, I didn’t have standard childcare available. Nowhere was open late enough for the news to be over and me out the door. So, we came up with ways to work with the system. We traveled 20 minutes to meet my parents at a rest stop a couple days a week to play “trade the baby.” Then my husband (whom had gone back to school) changed his schedule to finish classes a little earlier in order to get to the daycare in the town I worked. Somehow this worked for our lives. At least for a couple years.
Sending her to Gramma and Grampa’s was nice. It was comfortable, and easier to think about than a daycare provider. A stranger!! A stranger I had carefully chosen and met beforehand. But, you all know exactly the feelings I mean. The guilt. My Mom Guilt. I’m missing all this time with her. Maybe she won’t take a bottle from her. Maybe she will like it better, and stop nursing. What if she crawls first there? Calls her Mama! It goes on and on. But I didn’t have a choice at this time. I had to work. I was providing for my family. The sole provider. I had to remember this- “every time I’m walking out that door/I know what I’m leaving for.”
This is where it gets real.
I’ll never forget the first time she stayed at daycare. I knew I had to stay strong. My Mom was a teacher and had told me the horror stories of the parents that couldn’t leave, only making it harder on the kids. I knew I had to be strong.
We were greeted that day, as every time to come, at the door with a smile. She was 12 weeks and able to koala hold on to me as I hung up her coat and organized her diaper bag in the cubby. Looking back, I should’ve let Daddy hold her then- he needed the hugs. We gave some information, showered her with kisses and hugs, and waved bye-bye to our little one. I wasn’t crying. I turned and walked out- breaking inside with every step. Our wonderful daycare provider brought her to the window to wave. We waved as we backed out of the driveway.
As the two of us drove down the main road to work and school, I congratulated us. “We did it. And she’s going to be just fine,” I reassured myself. I looked over and my husband’s eyes were as big as saucers and all welled up with tears, “I don’t want to leave her.” Of course I broke down. He pulled over in a church parking lot, and we held each other in a hug as we sobbed together. Nah. It was more of an ugly cry for me.
It’s never ending.
Every time I leave my kids a little bit of this happens inside. When I left for work. Date nights. Business trips. Anniversary trips.
I know my super accomplished, veterinarian, business owning, mother of four, Sister feels this way. I believe we all feel some version of this.
The Mom Guilt and total FOMO (fear of missing out) slips in. I know it is healthy to have time for my husband and I (and we do), time just for myself (and I do), friends (check that too), but I know how fast time goes by, and I just don’t want to miss a thing.
Bathe in it.
My oldest is 8 now. I find myself pausing to soak it in every time a “Mommy” slips out instead of “Mom.” It may be the last time I hear that from her. The last time our other daughter slips into my bed with a nightmare. Last “big boy hug” from our oldest son. The last toothless grin from our youngest. We had the last “First Christmas” ever. With each of the four children I have moments I hold my breath during. Or bawl my eyes out until my blood vessels have broken around them. (No joke- this was the last outfit of Christmas for our last baby.) Soak it in folks. Soak. It. In.
So Yes. This song speaks to me. How about you?