Grief, guilt, longing – working parenthood

Me with my Emma

Me with my Emma

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the reasons I search for ways to change myself.  My husband and I have a young daughter, Emma.  She will be turning four in March.  Before we had her, I thought I wanted to be a career woman.  That feeling quickly evaporated once she was born.

I still love what I do for a living, but being away from her so much is really hard.  It hurts my heart to leave her every morning, and my soul dies a little on the occasions when I travel, and hear that she cried after I left, or that she had bad dreams about me leaving her forever.  No one could have prepared me for the depth of these feelings.

I spend as much time with Emma as possible when I’m home, and we have mommy-daughter dates on the weekends.  We go to the library, to the play area at the local mall, we’ll have play dates with her friends, and we do the weekly grocery shopping together.

But, there’s always this sense of, it’s not enough.  Like I’m letting both of us down by not being a stay at home mom to her.  I live with the guilt of a mother that isn’t available to her child 24/7/365.

I think that many working mothers (and fathers, too!!) feel what I feel.  I don’t imagine that I’m unique in this.  I haven’t yet found a way to lessen the feelings, though.  I plan to keep looking for the magic potion that will wipe away the grief, guilt, and longing that go along with being away from my “baby”.  That’s the thing I want to change about myself in this case.  I can’t stop working – that’s just not an option for us – so I need to find a way to live with this situation, and not have my heart torn in two.

Are you a working parent?  Have you found a way to cope with these feelings?