Can you be a mother without overflowing amounts of guilt? I wish that I could say yes, but... I don't think it is possible. Some days, I start the morning with feelings of guilt because I am a working parent. There are days when I feel bad knowing that my son doesn't have a parent taking him to school and picking him up. It is hard to know that someone else hears the first reports of his day... good or bad.
Then the REAL guilt comes when I think about staying home and I take a deep breath (sigh) and realize that isn't for me, either:
- I feel guilty when I am tired after work and my son is not.
- I feel guilty when I am doing laundry or dishes instead of playing with him.
- I feel guilty when I am not the "room mom" organizing the class parties.
- I feel guilty when I hear a teacher colleague of mine saying to another colleague, "Oh, she can't be a helpful volunteer, she works."
When I was sharing my pity party thoughts with a friend, she said that everyone has "Mother Guilt" in varying degrees and varying amounts on various days. All of sudden, without any encouraging, she started sharing her own "Mother Guilt" list and I was shocked! This stay at home mom had quite a substantial list:
- I feel guilty that I am SO bored sometimes when I should be thrilled to be home with my child.
- I feel guilty that my child is an only child and will not grow up knowing what it is like to share a room with someone and whisper after lights out.
- I feel guilty that we don't live near our extended family-especially Grandma and Grandpa.
- I feel guilty that I still want a nanny and house cleaner even though I am home full-time.
- I feel guilty that I don't do something "meaningful" like bake cookies or make a bird feeder each day with my curious daughter.
- I feel guilty when I miss my "old" life.
- I feel guilty that I hate story time at the library. I feel even more guilt when I see the other moms smiling as if they are having a girls' night out!
This week, someone that I love said to me that you "do what you can." She continued by telling me that I am doing the best that I can and it won't be always perfect, all the time. That's for sure! This well-spoken person, helped bring me back down to my current reality. I started to think about all the things that I am proud that I CAN provide my son on a daily basis. With this thought, I started a new list in my mind.
I am proud that I have a job that makes a difference. Being an elementary teacher is hard work, but it allows me to be home every night, weekend, and holidays.
I am proud that my son has a family dinner every night of the week.
I am proud that we are able to afford the specialists and counselors that we have taken our son to see and I know that not everyone is that fortunate.
I am proud that my son is learning patience, independence and other characteristics that he might not have developed if I was home each day.
Now it's your turn. How heavy is your "Mother Guilt" load? Is it possible to lighten this burden?