I spent last week on vacation from work, just hanging with Little C. There was nothing special about the week. If anything, it looked very much like the week before for her, and very much like the weeks we spent together while I was still on Mat leave. By all accounts, it appeared to be an unremarkable week. But Friday night, oh boy did I cry.
My heart broke that I had to go back to work on Monday. I cried that she had to go to “Nana and Grandpa Daycare”. I cried because the week revealed just how better our relationship could be when we spent more time together. I cried because part of me was relieved to be going back to work.
In my struggle to accept my role as “working mom,” I’ve used “it takes a village” as a reminder that I am not the sole person responsible for raising my child. I have a husband who willingly gave up his cherished bus rides to work in order to drive C to my parents’. I have two parents who gave up their retirement plans (of sitting in easy chairs staring boredly at each other, apparently) to ensure C is always surrounded by love. I have two in-laws who are anxiously awaiting summer when they plan to abscond our girl for days at a time to show her how to fish. I have a sister, niece and nephews who accept her almost a fifth member of their week-day brood. She has swimming instructors, Rhyme Time leaders, church nursery helpers, doctors, dentists. Little C has an amazing village to help raise her and there never a point when she is not surrounded by family and love, even when I can’t be there. I’m hugely grateful for every one of them.
But it doesn’t make the guilt go away.
While I can’t feel guilty about the circumstances in which she spends her days, I feel guilty that after a week spent with her, I am ready to go back to work. I missed the feeling of accomplishment I get at work. I missed variety of the tasks I get to do. I missed the structure of the work day. For the last 6 months, I’ve felt incredibly guilty for working, as though my enjoyment of work detracted from my love for my daughter.
But it doesn’t.
It’s selfish to think that the only village that I’m apart of is my daughter’s village. A village is anyone who can help anyone else along their journey in life. My job lets me be part of the village for exchange students traveling halfway around the world, the students experiencing difficult circumstances that can derail their academics, the high school students looking to get a jump start on their university courses.
My girl deserves the best village, and she has it. But everyone deserves the best village. So sometimes, it’s important to let C’s village help raise her so I can be part of the village in someone else’s life. And it’s time I start to feel good about that.