How do you spell parent? Let’s be honest, for most of us, we spell it G-U-I-L-T. And if you don’t, please, please, PLEASE comment and let the rest of us in on your secret!
Now I’m not saying I wake up every morning feeling guilty or spend my days in a shroud of guilt for my parenting shortcomings. But there are spurts during almost every day when the guilt hits me. Right this very second I am combating my “Mom Guilt”.
I’m in the process of creating a daily schedule for posting to my blog and for all the other things that must be accomplished in the course of a day. Today, I let myself get way off track. I did some important things, but not in a timely the manner. I’ve told myself that I must post to my blog today and now my son is home from school and I have not written a thing. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
He, of course, wants to spend some time with me. I oblige because I just can’t resist when my kids want to be with me. I know the day will come, all too soon, when they won’t want to hang with lame-o Mom. After a while of watching him play Minecraft, I am bored nearly to tears and the words I have yet to write are gnawing at me. I feel guilty for not wanting to sit and watch video games and snuggle. AND I feel guilty because in order to post the words I want to write, I will need to leave his room and sit at my desk.
The irony of my topic and my situation is NOT lost on me.
Luckily, I prefer to write my first draft on actual paper with an actual pen. So here I sit, on the floor of my son’s room, writing while he plays a video game. Compromise right?
Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that being in the same room together does not constitute quality time. But we are hanging out. He’s asking me questions, showing me his creations, and I am engaging him as well; not just mumbling “Mmmhmmm” and “Cool kiddo”.
Is it ideal? No. Are all days like this? No. This particular situation is my fault. I could have done things differently in order to have my schedule cleared by the time he got home. Would I still want to sit and watch him play Minecraft? Oh HELL no! BUT I could be more available to entertain him in other ways.
Another situation I am currently feeling a lot of guilt about is my daughter’s basketball games. We have had to miss a couple this season already due to some pretty major transportation issues. It’s no one person’s fault, it’s just the way it is right now. Last season I only got to watch the first couple of games and then had to sit out the rest because I was threatened with physical violence. That is a long story but suffice to say, I had to make a hard decision to keep my family’s best interest on the front burner. So every game I’ve had to miss since is like twisting that knife of guilt in my heart. I want to be the mom who is at every game, cheering the loudest. Sometimes that just isn’t possible.
As parents, we tend to want to give our kids the things we didn’t have when we were kids. I know I’d love to give my kids everything they want ( I know, I know…), take them on cool vacations to theme parks or museums, or anywhere for that matter, but our current financial situation does not allow for that, YET.
I feel guilty because so many of their friends get to go places and do things that we can’t. I have to remember that it won’t always be like this. My children are still having an amazing childhood and there are many things we will get to experience together. It doesn’t matter that I won’t be taking them to Disney for the first time (their father and his wife are) but perhaps it will be their NEXT trip to Disney and it will be new and different because I will be there with them! I’m excited just dreaming about it!
Just leaving the house to go to work creates guilt in most of us. We have to go to work to provide for our families but explain that to a crying two year-old who is clinging to your leg! I have been lucky enough at different points in my kid’s lives to stay at home with them. My most recent experience has been for the past two years. There have been extenuating circumstances as to why I get to be home and I wish things were different. I feel guilty for not being able to provide for them in the ways I would like to, but we have learned so much about living within our means and what is truly important in life: our family values! When I worked outside the home, I felt guilty leaving my kids with a babysitter, even if it was a family member. I didn’t want to miss any time of their childhoods.
How about all the hours on the weekend that we spend cleaning rather than playing with our children? Or the fact that we don’t feed our children a 100% organic diet? What about the days when bedtime comes a bit early because you just canNOT make it through one more hour? And let’s not forget all the times we raise our voices in frustration after vowing never to do it again?
How is this guilt that’s always lurking, waiting to pounce on us, helping anything or anyone? It’s not. It perpetuates a feeling of negativity and of not being able to “do it all”, which leaves you feeling like a failure.
The truth is, we’re all doing the best we can! We’re providing our children with what they truly need: love, support, food, a place to sleep, and MANY wonderful memories, that may or may not include planes and vacations. I am 35 and I’ve never been to Florida. My parents “only” took us to a small water park a few hours away once, a hotel with a pool a handful of times, and numerous places in between. They did the best they could and my childhood was not ruined because we couldn’t do everything we wanted. In fact, I have many great memories of growing up and I happen to think I turned out okay.
Today I could have avoided my feelings of guilt if I had done what I said I was going to do from the moment I opened my eyes. We can’t let these feelings of guilt eat us up. Our children need us in the “NOW” and if we’re lost in feeling guilty, that means we’re focusing on the past and the wrong things.
When I first had the idea to write about guilt for my blog, it was an obvious choice that I would use the “Mom Guilt” perspective, since I know it well. However, the more I thought about it, the more unfair it seemed to me. Especially when I thought about my husband and the hell and hard times he went through raising his children. His experiences really opened my eyes to what caring, concerned, INVOLVED fathers go through.
So this post is dedicated to all parents, no matter your age, marital status, or occupation. We’re all in this together so let’s try to make it a guilt-free zone!