Floating in a sea of guilt on a boat made of guilt and why I feel guilty about it

by Melody on June 28, 2013

Embracing the Mama Guilt

My husband and I go to Vegas at least twice each year for a long (and wonderful) weekend.  He is quite the social butterfly and I’m no slouch in the conversation-with-random-strangers department myself, so we always end up making friends and getting to know our pool neighbors.  Every single time we go down, when people find out we have young kids at home, I get the question “Oh my gosh, don’t you miss your kids?”.

Uh, no.  It’s three days, people.  THREE DAYS.

Three days to be an adult, to remember that under my crusty Mom exterior, there is someone who can be pretty fun. Three days to go an entire 24 hours without having to make anyone breakfast, to plan errands and activities around nap time or to be up by 6 AM.  Three days to have a conversation with my husband that doesn’t jump around in fits and starts because I have someone pulling on my leg or yelling “MOOOOOMMMMM” in a bizarre hyena-slash-howler-monkey voice.  Three days to drink a beer without putting it down and forgetting where it went (okay, maybe not).  To go all wild and crazy and eat something that SOMEONE ELSE MADE and that SOMEONE ELSE WILL CLEAN UP.

After this last trip, the question got me thinking.  I wonder if I come across as crass or a little bit heartless when I say that I don’t miss my kids?  Do I really not miss them at all?

Of course I miss them, they’re cute and freaking hilarious and they say the most ridiculous things that I get to post on Facebook for a good laugh.  What I will never in my life miss getting away from is the guilt.

The guilt.  It threatens to drown me in a rolling sea every minute of every day.  When we packed up our babes to head home from the hospital, we also took home some Lansinoh samples and a bucketful o’ guilt, complete with a guilt manual and a lifetime warranty (read: It will never go away).

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On any given day, I feel guilty that the kids watch too much Tom & Jerry.  I feel guilty about the amount of work I do.  I feel guilty about not getting enough work done.  I feel guilty for snapping at them because they woke me up 3 times in the middle of the night and peed on the bathroom floor.  I feel guilty when they don’t spend enough time outside riding their bikes.  I feel guilty if they spend too much time outside and maybe I didn’t apply enough sunscreen.  I feel guilty if they have too many snacks, I feel guilty if they don’t have enough snacks.

I feel guilty that I will never be a Mom who loves Play-doh.  I feel guilty that most board games make me want to stab a fork in my eye.  I feel guilty that I’m not reading the 872 posts on “Parenting a Happy Family” or “How to Unplug for a Full Week” on Pinterest.  I feel guilty that Pinterest makes me feel guilty.

I feel guilty about booking a second trip to Vegas, but not signing the kids up for soccer lessons.  I feel guilty that we don’t have a Summer Bucket List.  I feel guilty for letting things slip through the cracks.  I feel guilty for forgetting to meal plan. I feel guilty for forgetting to write blog posts.  I feel guilty for looking forward to nap time, if only so I can relish the few minutes of quiet I get in an entire 24 hour period.  On particularly bad days, I feel guilty about the things I ate during pregnancy almost FIVE YEARS AGO.

The guilt is what I run away from.  When my husband and I leave town, we are secure in the fact that the kids are having a wonderful time.  They are staying up too late, eating brownies and whipped cream for breakfast and running Grandma and Grandpa ragged.  They are watching movies and going to the park and helping Grandpa at the farm and learning obnoxious words from my brothers.  Meanwhile, I am lounging by the pool and letting the guilt leach away with every passing hour.  For a brief moment in this toddler-raising mayhem, I can rest assured our kids are perfectly content.

And please, I know that I do stuff well.  Our kids eat like champs and 97% of the time, they are mowing down vegetables and begging for more sauteed mushrooms.  I keep a fairly clean and organized home.  I work out hard to show them that their Mom is invested in herself.  I make a point to get together with friends and let them play and socialize and wear themselves out.  I am laid back and calm (except when I’m not).  I make an effort to do fun things and make fun things on occasion, we’ve made approximately .003% of what I’ve seen on Pinterest.  I make a concerted effort to love on my husband as much as possible to show them that marriage is an amazing blessing.  These things are just easy to forget when you’re wallowing in a shallow pool of guilt-filled guilt.

I choose to believe that guilt is something I can’t tame, rather a tool to help me be a better parent.  While I generally want to punch it in the face and bury it in the backyard, I attempt to harness it and figure out  where it’s coming from and what it is trying to show me.

This in no way means I enjoy it or love it or even want to be friends with it.  I just choose to use it to my advantage.  This only works when I’m not crying in the corner and calling friends who I know will ensure me that I’m the best Mom on the planet and my kids will survive by their cuteness alone, even if I can’t manage to make homemade alphabet stepping stones or even shower on some days.

Peace be with you, guilt-riddled friends.  You’re not alone.

Question: What are some of the things you feel the most guilty about?  Leave a comment and release it from your conscience like a beautiful bird.  Or just make someone else feel better that they are not alone.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin June 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Loved reading this! It’s great to know I’m not the only one experiencing these guilty feelings. Thanks for sharing! :)

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Melissa Hansson June 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I’m not a Mom, but you sound like an awesome one. Good for you for taking care of yourself, too! A happy, healthy parent is a good parent, right? Enjoy Vegas!

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Mary Barillas June 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Honestly, i feel guilty when my son is at our gym too much, we own it and practically live there but sometimes I feel really guilty that I don’t deal with him right away because I am teaching a class and shoo him away to go upstairs and play either with other kids or alone!

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MissJay June 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time on my daughter’s “at home” therapy tasks. On days when I manage that well, I feel guilty that I spend hugely disproportionate time with my daughter than my son. When I balance them well, I feel guilty that I am neglecting my husband.

I feel guilty when I choose to watch a show on Hulu instead of work out . . . every single day.

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kelsie June 28, 2013 at 11:48 pm

This is beautiful, Melody! I’m there with you. I feel guilty that my kids diet isn’t varied enough, that I didn’t eat as much fish while I was pregnant with Emery or take vitamins everyday, that I look forward to quiet time Every Day, that my kids don’t get to run around in a grassy yard (just sand outside our house here), that I spend too much time on the computer on my phone instead of focusing on them (cough cough..like right now), that I’m not teaching them about God enough…..
*sigh*
And then, like you, I choose to use the guilt to push myself to be more of the mom I want to be, and I let go of the regrets and worry. I am so thankful that every day is a new day, full of new mercy. A fresh start.
Thanks for the post!

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Janna June 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Love your post Melody! I struggle with guilt in many parts of my life…the reason I journal when my thoughts r overflowing! It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one!

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