Two days after I posted The Summer Working Mom, we had a sitter come for the first time this summer to watch the girls. Scott was sleeping off his night at work and I was super busy with meetings.
We’ve done different things over the years during summer. For many years, my job was only 30 hours a week and I had very little meetings. I was able to make up work in the evenings after early bed times. Also, when the kids were younger, they still napped.
Some summers my mom and mother-in-law were both off one afternoon a week and would whisk them away. One summer we hired a middle-schooler to come hang out with them. Some summers we planned a lot of play dates at the house and they would play in their rooms or in the pool together for hours.
My job now is full-time and it’s changed in such a way that I could be in meetings on the phone for 6-8 hours straight. I don’t have the luxury of planning much work in the evenings.
The young lady we hired for this summer is 19. She’s super responsible and attentive and loves to play with them (not just watch them play) and can drive. The girls think it’s the best thing ever.
In fact, years later, they still talk about that middle-schooler coming to play with them and I’m sure they will do the same about this summer.
But let me share my neurosis about the whole situation.
When she came, it was fantastic to see her almost immediately grab a board game and take them to their room to play. They love board games and that’s something I definitely cannot do while I work.
Yay, this was the best idea ever. Look! They’re playing board games and not watching TV!
And then, guilt starts.
Oh my gosh, I’m the worst mother ever. They’re playing board games but it’s not with meeee! All their childhood memories will be with a sitter and not their mother.
Then, she takes them to the library and they pick out books to read.
Yay! They’re reading books–their teachers would be so proud. They’re going to have great memories of the sitter taking them to the library.
They’re going to go on Oprah one day and talk about how their mother never paid attention to them and they only remember me telling them to be quiet as I sat at my desk. Nevermind Oprah has been over for years. She’ll probably start the show again just to feature all their problems.
Then she swims with them–for hours. As I watch from my desk on my meeting, I can see they’re laughing and she’s doing flips with them and playing games.
What success! We got a great sitter who’s really giving them lots of attention–what more could I want?
Me. They could probably want more of me. All the other moms are at the pool with their kids. See? It’s right here on Twitter. I’m such a failure.
And on and on it goes. I continue to have an internal struggle about my kids, working and having a sitter. If I didn’t have one, they’d likely spend hours in the front of the TV. If I went into work, I’d hate not seeing them at all. So, I’m here where I see them all the time but then feel guilty about it all.
But the truth is, I know for a fact that I would not spend every single day playing board games, swimming and going to the library or the museum or whatever for hours on end. If I weren’t working, I’d be busy cleaning or organizing something or writing a blog post. I’d be doing something. Sure, there’d be more time with them but it’s not as if I’d do everything the sitter is doing.
And the fact is, they LOVE spending time with this sitter. I know they will talk about her for years to come and have great memories. I can only remember having a sitter a few times as a child and I don’t look back and say oh my gosh, my mother was such a failure. I can’t believe she wasn’t spending time with me. My thoughts are my mom had something to do and she got this great sitter for me and we had a ton of fun. Yay!
I’ve come to believe–thanks to my mom–that all this neurosis is just plain old unnecessary guilt. The Bible says Satan is out to steal, kill and destroy. He will do anything–anything–to steal my joy. Even when I have a successful job and kids that are having a blast, he is still trying to make me miserable about it all. And the thing is, no matter what situation I am in–working or not–he would do the same. It is his intent to make us unsatisfied and discontent with our job as mothers.
I believe, when I’m not being so neurotic, that there are none of us getting it “right”. It is not right to stay at home and it is not right to work. We are all called to our own place and only then are we getting it right. My job is to be sure of my call from God and then to be content with the calling and the outcome.
So, mothers, be certain I understood your neurosis. I live it, I breathe it, but I also do not accept it.
When the thoughts rage, I remind myself that I’m right where God has called me and He alone will complete the job He’s started in both me and my children. He knows what He’s doing and my job is to be content and trust Him. I remind myself to be thankful for my job, thankful for my kids, and thankful for a wonderful sitter. Gratefulness always kills the neurosis.
Moms, tell me I’m not alone. You struggle with thoughts like this too, right?