I Wasn’t There for My Son’s First Steps and It Made Me a Better Mom

I Wasn't There for My Son's First Steps and it Made Me a Better Mom | Houston Moms Blog

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my first son, there were a series of scenes that would play in my head from time to time when I envisioned what motherhood would be like. The oldest of my closest friends to get married {and as a result the oldest to start having children}, I knew from all of them that being a full time working mom was going to be difficult and would come with a healthy dose of sacrifice, but I still had those picture perfect mental images and scenes in my head of my son’s milestones:: first smile, first laugh, rolling over for the first time, learning to crawl, first solid food, first steps…and the list went on. 

But I wasn’t there for my son’s first steps and it made me a BETTER mom. No, that’s not a typo. I’m serious. Let me set the stage for you and explain what happened…

My Blissful, Early Days of Motherhood

While I was home with my son on maternity leave, he smiled for the first time in my arms. Shortly after I went back to work, I was there when he rolled over for the first time one evening. Both my husband and I were there when he started to crawl and when he had his first taste of solid food. Everything was humming along according to plan and was pretty much just like those magical scenes that had been in my head for so long.

After I went back to work, we were fortunate to have a nanny for my son. The whole point was to get him one on one attention and focus in our home while hopefully limiting him to as little germ exposure as possible. Our nanny was truly fabulous – nearly Mary Poppins! She would send me multiple pictures and videos per day of her and my son doing things together, or him making a cute face, or sleeping. I loved it and every time I received one, it filled my heart with joy. It felt as though I was there with him, even though I wasn’t, and I managed to keep much of my mom guilt at bay for a really long time. 

My Reality Check

Then came December 2, 2015. 

It was only Wednesday, but it had already been a grueling week at work. I was exhausted so I decided to leave the office a bit early to beat traffic and get some extra quality time with my son. However, I had put on my last clean pair of work pants that morning and I knew I had to stop at the dry cleaners on the way home or I would be forced to get creative the following morning with my attire – something I try and avoid if at all possible. Let’s face it…we all play to our strengths and coming up with creative clothing ensembles is NOT one of mine. But moving on…

I was in the drive-thru of our local dry cleaners less than a mile from our house, when I got a text from our nanny. Expecting it to be another cute video or something of my son, I excitedly opened the message on my phone. However, my heart sank after hitting “play.” I quickly realized it was a 6-second video of my son taking his first steps while I was surfing Facebook on my iPhone in line at the dry cleaners less than a mile away! My thoughts started to swirl around in my head and I could feel the tears stinging behind my eyes. However, at that very moment something that I cannot explain happened and it was one of the most valuable pep talks I’ve had with myself since becoming a mom. 

I asked myself, “Are you going to get upset, cry, and ruin this major milestone by feeling sorry for yourself because you missed seeing it in person or are you going to embrace the positive and rush home to give your son the biggest hug ever and have him show you his new skill over and over again?” I quickly opted for the latter. I then realized how fortunate I was to have an amazing nanny who understood enough about me and my working mom guilt and quickly thought to tell my stepdaughter to grab her phone and capture the moment on video so I could see. Before I knew it, I had quickly shifted my thought pattern back to positive and I could not wait to get home and see my son taking what might end up being his third and fourth steps {instead of his first} and I was totally OK with that. 

How It Made Me A Better Mom

My point in sharing this story is that as mothers {whether you’re a working mom or a stay at home mom}, we all need to just take a deep breath and allow ourselves some grace. My mother in law who raised three wonderful boys gives great advice and frequently tells me, “Major on the major and minor on the minor.” I cannot tell you how many times I have muttered this expression to myself since becoming a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I am not always perfect in taking my own advice and certainly have my own slip ups. There was an unfortunate incident when my son was about 18 months old and my husband {who loves to pull pranks!} had me convinced while I was on my first out of town business trip away from my son that he’d given him his first haircut without me there.  Let’s just say that did not go over well with me and I went from calm, collected wife to Cruella De Vil in about half a millisecond. But I digress…

We cannot possibly be there for every single one of our children’s major milestones in life – it’s impossible! Even if I stayed at home with my son, I could have just as easily been out running an errand or getting the mail when he took his first steps. What IS IMPORTANT is that we celebrate the milestones with our kids as soon as we can and focus on what matters – the experience for our kids and not ourselves. Missing my son’s first steps forced me to evaluate my own reactions to those inevitable curve balls that motherhood likes to throw at us and make a choice ::  either melt down into an emotional mess {basically ruining it for everyone} or focus on the positive by showing my son that I love him and am beaming with mama pride.  There have been other milestones that I’ve missed but I’ve learned to chill out more and not beat myself up over them. Instead, I share in the excitement with my son when I come home from work or pick him up from school and have him show me or tell me all about what he did, which brings joy to the both of us.  

So give yourself a break ladies, and try to remember to major on the major and minor on the minor.   

I Wasn’t There for My Son’s First Steps and It Made Me a Better Mom | Houston Moms Blog
Elizabeth Hotze Sanchez Photography

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Vicki has always had Texan blood pumping through her veins. Raised in Katy as the oldest of four girls and now a resident of Kingwood, she’s known for her undying and somewhat fanatical love of all things related to H-E-B, Amazon Prime, Taylor Swift, and Texas A&M, her alma mater {WHOOP!}. She has a passion for supporting other working moms in the workplace, as well as military veterans. Married to Paul since 2011 {also an Aggie and a veteran}, she has three kids:: step-daughter Madeline {2003} and sons Hamilton {2014}, and Harrison {2019}. By day, Vicki is a full-time working mom who works in HR and by night she’s a closet “60 Minutes” & “Real Housewives” fan. Always first out on the dance floor for “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, Vicki enjoys unwinding with friends over a glass of wine, a new craft brew and/or a H-E-B cheese ball.


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