We all suffer from it: Mom guilt.
Some of us suffer more from it than others. I am awesome with guilt. For instance, I cheated on a test in third grade (3RD GRADE!), and I still occasionally feel bad about it. Guilt works wonders on me, which may be why my mother uses it so often.
In any case, I’ve decided to take a break from Mom Guilt.
This kind of guilt is something mothers are particularly prone to. My husband, bless him, doesn’t feel bad that he goes to work everyday. He doesn’t feel bad that he goes out with his friends and plays on Friday. He doesn’t feel bad when he ships the kids outside and stays inside to watch a movie. He doesn’t care if the dishes sit in the sink, or if laundry piles up on the chair. If he did, one of us would probably do it. The difference is, he doesn’t feel bad about it, and I do.
But me? Oh yeah, I feel like a bad parent every day of my life.
So I’m taking a break from the guilt and I’m going to see if I can just be for one week.
I will not feel bad about the following things:
1. Telling the kids to go play. Outside, inside, whatever. And then having them do that while I do something else. I do not need to be the ever constant source of their entertainment.
2. Not feeding the kids their vegetables. It’s not like they eat them, anyway.
3. If we have a dinner consisting of cereal and OJ, that’s OK. No one’s going to die of malnutrition, right?
4. Taking a little time for just me. I love the kids, but I forget that they’re not little dictators who get to control all aspects of my life. If the one gets up at 4:30 in the morning, I don’t need to do so, too. He can go play in his bedroom until it’s a reasonable hour if he can’t go to sleep.
5. Not being perfect housekeeper. The house can be dirty–no one can eat off the floors in my house. But then, people shouldn’t be eating off floors at all. If a load of dishes doesn’t get done, if the laundry isn’t folded and put away, no one’s going to die.
6. Not being a stay-at-home mom. We need the money. I have a skill that can bring in said money. It’s not just that I don’t want to stay home (though that is true, at least in part), it’s that I can’t stay home. We wouldn’t be able to pay the bills if I did.
7. Not having the kids in every after school activity on Earth.
a. Yes, I’m sure Chewey would love martial arts. And I know they both need to be in swimming lessons (because, really, swimming is a life skill). I know Sea Monkey wants to take horseback riding lessons and dance. Chewey has demonstrated an aptitude and affinity for music. Yes, these are all wonderful things.
b. I don’t have the money or the time to cart them all over the world for said lessons. Do I feel bad that I am, essentially, denying my kids opportunities to explore their creative genius or become spectacular at something? Yes. Do I feel bad that I have a six-year-old who can only “kind of” swim, and a four-year old who really can’t? Yes. I know they need to continue with swimming lessons, but who has the time? We’d be relegated to more meals out of a box if we added more to our already busy schedules. Seriously.
8. Not being the calmest mom out there.
a. Scenario: We’re already late, because Chewey got up at 3:30 and once I got back to sleep, I slept through the alarm. For the 5th time this week, Chewey can’t find his shoes, despite the fact that I put them right by his door before he went to bed to combat this very issue. Alien gnomes came and stole them, I’m sure. After telling Chewey to look for them for the 50th time, I come upstairs to find him playing with his pirates in his bedroom. His shoes are not in sight. Only now, he’s not wearing any pants.
b. My response: I was distinctly unhappy about this turn of events, and I let him know it. Yes, he got yelled at. Not my finest parenting moment, but he did find his shoes shortly thereafter. Was it bad? Maybe. But I’m a mom and I’m going to make mistakes. God knows I got yelled at often enough as a kid. I’m not always going to parent with love and logic. Sometimes, my parenting will be emotional and pejorative. It’s not going to always be about positive reinforcement–sometimes, a kid’s going to get punished.
So, I will attempt to take a break from the guilt. We’ve all survived getting yelled at by our parents (shoot, I got yelled at three days ago by mine). We’ve all survived breakfast for dinner or TV dinners. We survived having imperfect parents, and our parents probably didn’t feel the same level of pressure to be perfect that we do, as much as they like to criticize our parenting skills. Or lack thereof.