Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Mother's Guilt

Posted by Mandy at 12:01 PM
My mom said something so true to me, as I cried to her over the phone, last night.

"The first thing a mom feels when she has a baby is joy. The second thing a mom feels is guilt. Over everything."

Never have truer words been spoken.

The reason for my tearful phone call can be broken down into two categories.
1. Loneliness
2. Guilt

My dear husband is such a hard worker. It's one of the reasons I love him so very much. If I never earned a penny in my entire life, I know that he would see to it that we lived comfortably anyway. The other thing I love so much about my husband is his kind and giving heart. When you need something, he is the go-to guy. The problem comes when these two wonderful traits combine and you end up with a guy that works too much, all of the time. Thankfully, this is temporary and our "normal for us" life will be continuing soon.

Having said that, last night was possibly the 7th day straight I had basically been home alone with the kids. As in I got up with them and put them to bed again that night, for days and nights on end. I can handle this scenario for a few days, but by day 5 I'm feeling the pressure.

As my husband took off his uniform from state police work, to put on work clothes to go work on a much needed and more than worthwhile project, I couldn't stop myself from breaking out into tears. (I admit it... I cried.) He drops everything to rush to my side. He asks, "what's the matter?" even though he knows the answer. I wipe my tears and try to explain that I know he has to do what he's doing, but that I'm just having a hard time at the moment watching him walk out of the door - again. Trying to avoid making him feel guilty, I put on my brave face and convince us both that I'll be fine in a minute. He leaves, I call Mom.

I tell her I'm lonely, I'm burned out, and I feel guilty about feeling lonely and burned out. I feel guilty that I want my husband home when I know what good he's doing. I feel guilty that I'm so burned out being with the kids that I don't even want to play with them much less do supper, baths, and bedtime. Apparently I had misplaced my SUPERMOM cape. As I talked and listened to my mom's wisdom on the issue (she had gone through similar things when we were little,) I started to realize that she was right. As a mother, I can feel guilty about nearly everything. No matter how much I do, I always wonder if it is enough, if it is good enough, if it's right. Do men have these thoughts? My husband seems perfectly content to spend an hour a day playing with the kids and has no guilt for plopping down to watch TV and shooing them away when he needs to rest. I'm not saying he should have guilt, but it just dawned on me that I seem to be the only one that worries about quality time with the children on a constant basis, when I'm the one home with them all of the time. What gives?

Where does the Mommy Guilt originate? Is it a comparison done in each mom's head of what she's doing vs. what she believes others are doing? Is it a genetic quality passed on to ensure that children are optimally cared for? Is it a new trend that only mother's in the past 40 or so years experience due to our society's constant lean towards more child-centered living? I'm not sure. From stay-at-home mothers to working mothers, we all seem to have guilty feelings on at least a weekly basis on a variety of issues.

Is there a way to combat a mother's guilt? I try to take a step back and look at my kids. They're healthy, happy, and well-cared for. Why do I feel guilty over the small things? So, I didn't want to play swords with Carter this afternoon; but I did take them all for a long walk this evening and read numerous books to each of them before bed. I did feed them and bathe them. I did tell them each I loved them, with total sincerity.

Am I the only mom that has guilt over these things? Am I the only mom that grows weary from child-care from time to time?


Sugar-n-Spice on Tuesday, 05 August, 2008 said...

This is why I love blogging. We get to realize we actually are not alone. You articulate so very well what a mountain of us are feeling. It's easy for me to look at you and think you're being way too hard on yourself. That you are perfectly normal, and that the woman who hasn't felt that way is either lying or extremely superficial. Yet I hold myself to the same ridiculous standards. And I have the same guilt for not being able to meet them. And I'm currently procrastinating on that whole supper-bath-bedtime thing. Because I, too, am in need of a little reinforcement. That isn't coming for a couple more hours. AFTER the kids are in bed.

Hang in there. And this, too, shall pass. ;)

Mandy on Tuesday, 05 August, 2008 said...

lol we should just get together each evening and one do supper and the other tackle baths... we can be single mom's together. ;)

Shelley on Tuesday, 05 August, 2008 said...

nope, I don't fit that one :) I honestly rarely feel guilty. I have always been a SAHM, but really don't feel bad if I get a day in Pine Bluff to eat with a friend and shop a while or something like that. I think I need to opportunity to miss my kids, and if they are always under my butt, I will never miss them. Michael works 6 days a week till at least 6 pm, usually later, and I get irritated with that, but it pays the bills and keeps me home with the girls, so I try to suck it up.
My kids watch verrrry little tv in comparison to most kids, so if I am having a blah day and don't want to play with them, I don't feel bad for renting a dollar redbox movie and sending them to their rooms. They think it's a treat, and I get some quiet.

Mandy on Wednesday, 06 August, 2008 said...

I've done the Redbox thing, too. It is a nice treat for ALL of us!

Ana on Wednesday, 06 August, 2008 said...

Oh Mandy you are so not the only one! I felt every single word because I have been there and continue to be there at times. The great thing about the blogging (especially Mommy Blogging) community is being able to share these feelings and finding out you are not alone.

You and I parallel on some certain levels. My hubby is also in law enforcement and I am also a SAHM. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that society makes mothers feel guilty for not spending what it's dubbed "quality" time. I also agree that in our competitive society we are constantly comparing ourselves with others and this is done in parenting also.

I can tell your hubby is a great guy. But men just are so different when it comes to views on what contributions they need to make when spending time with the kids. My hubby is the same. I feel bad for getting on him because he does work long hours.

Like sugar-n-spice said we do need reinforcement! You are doing great Mama! ((((HUGS)))

Maury on Wednesday, 06 August, 2008 said...

Guilt should be my middle name. I feel guilty about everything I do in life, and especially about my kids. I am really struggling with some decisions right now and both scenarios that are both perfectly fine for anyone else, I feel totally guilty about. And, when I worked I felt guilty about that. And then when I became a SAHM, I felt guilty about that. I am actually really pitiful, and could possibly need a nerve pill so I can just chill and quit being so hard on myself!!

Great post!

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