How do you spell parent?

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!

Parent =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 whenguilt 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.

Every second, every minute, every hour of every day is a chance to do things differently!

Every second, every minute, every hour of every day is a chance to do things differently!

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!

guiltfreezone

15 thoughts on “How do you spell parent?

  1. I Love your article! It is very informative and I think It brings to light some pretty important things one should know about in life, especially when considering personal growth and development! Acknowleging and learning about the guilt (and other kinds of negativity) is paramount to recovering from the effects these will have on our lives! Thank You for taking the time to share this, I know I will read it again and get more out of it, that is quality reading if you ask me. Keep up the great work! ❤ 1LifeChef

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Shedding light and encouraging personal growth is why I do this. In writing, I often find that I am helping myself discover new things as well! As long as I have words within me, I won’t stop. I can’t wait for you to read more of what I have to say. 🙂 ❤

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  2. I don’t have children of my own, but I have observed this truth: no matter how much even the most dedicated parents do, give, sacrifice, spend, love, care, worry, support, hug, cheer, compromise, provide, teach, relax, feed, drive, defend, protect… *deep breath*… and SO MUCH MORE… that guilt you’re describing is inescapable. It may not attack every single day, but it does strike. You made a good point. Accept that you’re doing your best, and continue to set a good example by not letting guilt erode your joy and satisfaction.

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    • You don’t have to have given birth to raise a child, that is a very valid point! You have and continue to raise children so you have probably experienced this truth first hand more than you give yourself credit for. All we can do is keep trying, be better than we were yesterday, and in some cases, better than we were a few minutes ago! 🙂 Setting a good example is so important because our children learn FAR more from our actions than they ever will from our words!

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  4. Hey, Lisa–I don’t know if this is entirely germane but this is what kept coming up for me, reading this–my parents NEVER took us on a fancy vacation… and I think THAT is one of the primary gifts of my childhood! That may sound nuts, but… Okay, so here’s why we never went, and, none of us minded: For one–my dad is a huge introvert and hates crowds. The idea of a trip to Disneyland, or somewhere similar, would have been pure misery to him. (He found Yellowstone WAY too crowded! I mean–several dozen people in a campground? That’s almost Disneyland-level crowding, right?) Also, my bro and I hated long drives (no phones filled with games, or backseat movies, in the 80s when I was growing up). (We never went on a long plane trip as a family–but I don’t enjoy those now–not sure I would have, back then.) My mom likes a bit of the glamourous life, I think–but wouldn’t have enjoyed it if we weren’t. What we did have, were some wonderful times together. My dad is a Wyoming boy, going back many many generations… He met my midwestern mother at college (Stanford) and brought her back to his hometown… and introduced her to his beloved mountains. I think it was love at first sight. (That deep attachment they both felt to nature, to Wyoming mountains, is why my middle name is Juniper.) And us kids grew up being THRILLED at the thought of getting to settle in each summer at “our” campspot (#9, I think it was) up at GrandJean campground, in the Sawtooths. It is glorious–heaven on earth. We went on hikes–I always brought a book or 14–my brother explored the huge ant pile a stone’s throw away… And in the afternoons, to give my mom a break, my dad would entertain us with puppet shows in the tent. I have so many happy memories of those years. To me, a family vacation is being together, and all doing things you enjoy. It’s not about spending money, going somewhere exotic… Although it truly was transporting, experiencing something so different from ordinary life. And, most of all–those years of simplicity and not having a lot of money (it was SUCH a treat to go to a lodge to get a slice of PIE! the crazy expense! and, to eat pie while camping! the indulgence!) prepared me for a lifetime of not taking things for granted. Of not needing a lot, to have a blissful time. So–I wonder–irony of ironies–if this thing you feel guilty about, isn’t potentially a great source of teaching to your kids–about what it takes to have a Meaningful Experience (people you love, a Special place, activities you all enjoy)–and how little money matters, compared to other things. It’s always easy to get used to having MORE. Hard to get used to having LESS. And–to me–often, we have the choice–more money, or more time? Kids, in my experience, would ultimately rather have your time–than a luxurious existence. (Even if they might get excited for the latest luxury item… It’s the “poor little rich kid” syndrome–rich in things, poor in time and attention.)

    We all do make mistakes… have things we feel guilty about. But, although my parents were far from perfect–they did so much better than their parents. And, they were able to make almost unbelievable improvements because they were willing to take parenting really seriously–to look at their own childhoods honestly and heal those wounds, and decide–WE will do better. My mom’s therapist told her–it IS possible to end the cycle. In fact, one study said, the biggest determining factor of the cycle of abuse coming to an end was, the formerly mistreated child, as an adult, saying–I will do things differently. (And both my parents studied psychology, devoted themselves to gaining insight into children’s emotional needs. They ARE pretty endless but my parents genuinely tried. I have almost no recollections of them ever saying, “Not now, hun.” Of course they must’ve. But they were present, and attentive to MY feelings, so often that I can’t remember them being distracted or dismissive.)

    And even if they weren’t perfect–they did succeed, I think, in ending the abuse–and giving us a good enough childhood… so that my brother and I could enter the world emotionally, whole, and figure out whatever was missing, ourselves.

    That was a loooooooong thought. You must have hit a (good) nerve! 😀

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    • OMGOSH!!! I could not LOVE this comment MORE! I think you nailed it right on the head! It IS a teaching experience about what REALLY and TRULY matters in life. Your childhood sounds idyllic and just what I would love for my children! I would love to take them to the mountains and enjoy nature. We do that here and they love it! I have always wanted to visit Wyoming and Montana. So you checked out my first blog? A vast difference huh?!?! I love, love, LOVE how my new one is set up. Thank you so much!

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  5. Hello Lisa, thank you for your post. You essentially inspired me to (re)start my blog! I’m not a parent, let alone married, but the insight you have of guilt is profoundly universal and everybody could relate to whatever their circumstance is. As looking back my childhood, my parents weren’t at home. Both were working so I spent most of my time with my grandma, even until recently. There were times I felt jealous to my friends when they talked about the weekend they spent/visited with their parents. It was more so on the day where the school invites parents to visit their child’s class and observe their lesson. Mine never made one. However, I know that they were doing their best to provide care. Thank you for reminding me.

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    • You’re very welcome JiEun! Thank you for taking the time to comment. It can be hard to balance providing for your children along with being there for them. Perhaps your situation is one you can learn from for when/if you become a parent. You learned how you will do things differently. I’m sure your parents love you and I’m glad you had your grandma to be there for you. I am so glad you are inspired to start your blog! I can’t wait to get a good look at them! 🙂

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