Yesterday I went to pick up Lola from daycare after work, as I do every day. The front door was locked and no-one answered when I knocked. I walked around back to find Lola, Dylan, Franklin, Carla, and the dogs playing in the backyard. They were having a blast together.
Lola was very happy to see me but when it was time to go home, she told me "No." She wanted to stay. After going back and forth on the subject for a little bit, I did what I usually do in these circumstances; I gave her a hug and a kiss, said good bye and walked away, fully expecting her to come running after me, as she always does.
It backfired. She was absolutely fine with me leaving. That was NOT supposed to happen. I walked back up to her but no, she really was intent on staying. Carla told me it was fine with her and that I should enjoy the unexpected night alone with my husband. And so I did.
I love having the occasional night off, but this time it didn't sit well with me at all. I felt a little heartbroken. (Of course the melancholic classic rock song playing on the radio the entire way home didn't do much to lighten the mood.) I thought of all the things I do not do with my daughter. We have never been to the zoo together. We do not do crafts together. We hardly ever go to the park together, or go swimming. Lola does all these things, but with Carla. Not with me.
I know this sense of failure I have is self imposed. Not working, or working less, is not an option at the moment. And I am extremely fortunate and blessed in having found Carla. I leave my daughter in very capable and loving hands every day. I do for my family what needs to be done in the best way possible. But that doesn't lessen the feelings of guilt. And that makes me sad. And not just for Lola but mostly for myself, truth be told. Which adds on even more guilt.
Motherhood, it truly is a source of joy. And of guilt, just as much.