Happy Thanksgiving! Are they growing up too fast?

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there. And Happy Columbus Day to the Americans. (I hope you got the day off.)

Someone sent me a question that touched on something I've been thinking about for months now, ever since I went back to work. The question was in the middle of a bunch of other stuff, so I'm paraphrasing the relevant sentences:

"I worry that he grew up because he had to, not because he was ready to. And that no matter what I do, not having me during the day forced him to toughen up too soon."

I've wondered the same thing about my older son. When I went back to work, it was the end of his pre-K year. We had two different babysitters in four months, and I really did not have anything organized or running smoothly. (In addition, all my emotions were in upheaval because we were dealing actively with the divorce at that point, but the kids still didn't know.)

I stayed as connected as I possibly could, but he just didn't get the face time with me that he had had before. And then when he started Kindergarten, with that teacher that we both disliked so much, I just couldn't be there when he got out of school. That killed me. He grew up and toughened up so much in that year, and it's always going to haunt me.

But I also think that it might have happened the same way if I'd been there for him at home the whole time. He's very intense and feels things deeply, but is self-contained. He might have worked through all of it mostly in his own head in those four hours every day between when he got out of school and when I got home. And it's possible that being home might have made things worse for him somehow, too.

This may just be another one of those things that I feel guilty about for the rest of my life, but that may not have had a negative effect on my child at all.

Thoughts? About this specifically, or regrets and wonder in general?