Sometimes I wonder how we don’t all suffocate under the weight of mom guilt.
I mean, does it ever end? There’s always something that’s making us feel bad, making us feel like we could and should be doing more, making us wonder if some seemingly tiny choice is going to have a butterfly effect on the rest of our kids’ lives.
I didn’t really get the whole mom-guilt thing until I had my second child. I was surprisingly logical with my firstborn. He was my sole responsibility, I knew I had his best interests at heart, and I knew that I was giving this parenthood thing my all. Did I feel the pangs of mom guilt every now and then? Sure, but it was fleeting. I could take a minute, refocus and get back to parenting business.
With my second, though, it’s a whole different ballgame. The guilt is constant.
Am I giving each of them enough time?
Am I on my phone too much in an effort to spend time with them while simultaneously trying to work from home?
Am I doing enough educational stuff with them?
Am I doing too much educational stuff with them, and should I instead just let them be kids?
I could go on, but you know where I’m coming from, because I’m sure you can feel the panic in my writing and because I’m sure you’ve also been there in your own way.
Right now, the crux of the problem is this: My 4-year-old is requiring a lot of my time. We have some issues that need fixing, and the only way to do that is with some serious sit-down mommy time. I am happy to do it, but he’s pushing back against some new rules at home, and every little thing is taking about 10,000 times longer than it should.
Where does that leave my toddler? Right next to me, trying to get my attention. Don’t get me wrong: She has solo time when her brother’s at school, and I do everything I can to entertain her, engage her and include her while this is going on. But I am only human. (Unfortunately.) There are two of them and one of me, and my attention is split. Right now, she’s getting the short end of the mommy stick.
I’m doing what I can. I’m trying to give myself a break. I’m trying to forgive myself.
Oh, and when she feels like I’m not paying enough attention to her, she screams at the top of her lungs. She doesn’t cry. She lets out an ear-piercing scream coupled with a smile. It’s…delightful.
In short: My son’s pushing back, my daughter’s pushing back, and I’m pushing forward, just trying to make it through the day, get shit done and retain a modicum of sanity in the process.
So…the six words.
They came from my husband. When I was emotionally vomiting all over the place about this, I said something to this effect: “I’m worried that I’m not giving her enough time and attention just with me and that I’m screwing her up.”
“Don’t worry—she doesn’t know what she’s missing.”
There it was. She doesn’t know what she’s missing.
Implying that she’s missing something. That she’s missing A LOT.
I know that’s not how he meant it and that he said it in an effort to make me feel better, but let’s just say it had the opposite effect. This is her normal, yes, and she’s never known anything different, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, is it?
I am doing my best. I know that. Or at least I think I know that most days. My daughter is my priority. I am always thinking of ways to teach her, of ways to make her days better—to make her life better—and of ways to show her how much I love her.
But we’re constantly on the go, I’m exhausted, and I’m missing that “I’m in a perfect, lovely mommy-baby bubble” feeling that I had with my son. Life is busy, and while it’s OK to let things go some of the time, you can’t let things go all of the time. Not to mention, when you do let them go for a day or two, then you’re royally screwed when you eventually have to catch up.
So I’m doing what I can. I’m trying to give myself a break. I’m trying to forgive myself. I’m trying to be the best mom that I can be. And I’m trying to make sure that my daughter knows how valued she is and that she doesn’t feel like she’s missing something.
I just hope that she understands all of that someday.
Tell Us: What triggers your mom guilt? And how do you deal with it?
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Rachel Zylstra says
One sentence really stuck out for me:
“This is her normal, yes, and she’s never known anything different, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, is it?”
It made me think ” Yes. Yes it is a good thing.” Being a part of a family. Getting a balance of types of attention is good. We are raising productive members of society. They will not be the sole focus of their friends, teachers, bosses attention. The world does not and will not revolve around them. You are one person and you are human. You do the best you can and that is good enough.
Rachel, thank you for your comment. That is seriously the best bit of perspective, and I really needed to hear it! You are so right. So much of what I try to teach my kids is that they are not the center of the universe and that they need to be kind and empathetic to others. But they, of course, are the centers of my universe. 🙂 I just hope they know how much I love them and that I really am trying. Shifting my perspective on all this will definitely help me, that’s for sure.