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Reality Check: I Miss My Baby

Q. My parents sit for my daughter while I'm at work, but I worry I'll miss special moments they'll get to see. How can I get past the guilt and longing?

A.
I've been in your shoes twice, and I assure you that it won't always feel this bad. You'll adjust. Your baby's undoubtedly already adjusted, and that should make you happier, not sadder. She's being loved all day, so from her perspective what's not to like? Think of her time with Grandma and Grandpa as a gift for them all, rather than as something being taken from you. Of course you miss her, but working is something you do to benefit your family, not something to feel guilty about.

I once went to a talk by a famous parenting guru, Penelope Leach. She said she thought working mothers are better off accepting that the various parts of their lives bleed into each other, rather than trying to compartmentalize.

I found her approach helpful. Go ahead and decorate your work space with photos of your baby. Call home a couple of times a day to check on her latest antics and "talk" with her on the phone. Just hearing her gurgles and letting her hear your voice can make you feel less left out.

When I got home from work, I'd spend the first half hour just doing fun stuff with my baby, to reconnect in person. And for that first year, I doled out my precious vacation days one at a time so each month I knew I had at least one looong three-day weekend to look forward to.

It can also help to keep the big picture in mind: There's no finite number of special times for you and your child to share. The important thing is to be happy where you are. So slow down, take a deep breath, and smile at your baby as you go out the door each morning. It's a long life, and you have the rest of it to spend with each other.

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