The other day a friend and I were talking about how Moms must be hardwired to feel guilty. We always seem to find something – some reason to feel guilty and beat ourselves up, whether that reason is big or small. The small reasons differed for each of us, but the biggest reason was the same: WORK.
When I went back to work after my first son was born, I felt guilty about leaving him at daycare. My first day back wasn’t until Wednesday, so Monday and Tuesday were “test runs,” and the first day only for 4 hours. Instead of going home I went to Walmart and wandered the aisles like a zombie, counting the minutes until I could pick him up and flee back to safety. I also cried the entire time. Luckily I picked the only store in the city that was deserted on a Monday morning, because I was a complete and total wreck.
A couple months later I started a new job. This one paid enough that my husband could quit his job and stay home with our son. Woohoo! BUT…it required me to travel. So, instead of feeling good that I was providing a way for one of us to stay home, I felt guilty for traveling. It only got worse when I discovered that I loved the job. Then I got to feel guilty for being away from home and for not hating the job that kept me away.
Once my sons were old enough to realize I was leaving on trips, I’d feel guilty when they would cry. Obviously it meant I was a horrible mother for leaving. When my trips became so frequent that they DIDN’T cry, obviously it meant I was a horrible mother for letting them get used to my not being home. When I started working from home and traveling less, they started crying again when I would leave, which meant I was back to feeling guilty for leaving.
Good grief! I’m exhausted just writing about it. Why couldn’t I be happy that I had a good job that I liked, that provided for our family, that allowed my husband to be a kick-ass stay-at-home Dad? Why couldn’t I stop feeling guilty and focus on the positives?
I’m happy to say that after 5 years, I’m finally finding some peace in what I do and how I do it. I’m good at my job, and this setup (me at work, my husband at home) works for us. I’m dealing with it.
But the guilt isn’t limited to the big issues like work, is it? Oh no, it has to creep into everything. When it was our turn to bring snack to preschool, I felt guilty for having bought the cupcakes instead of making them. At Christmas I felt guilty because between work and home, something had to give, so I didn’t get Christmas cards out. Just this week I felt guilty over deleting something I had written because I didn’t like it enough to put it on my blog.
Well, guess what? I don’t bake. I’d like to, but I don’t. No one died because I didn’t get Christmas cards out this year. No one will die if I don’t get to them next year either. And the blog thing? Yeah, that’s just bizarre. There must not have been enough big things to feel guilty about this week. See what I mean about finding reasons for guilt?
As moms, we have strengths, and we have weaknesses. Let's file this under "Life's too short" and stop feeling guilty for both.