As a society of moms, we are all very familiar with this particular unwelcome guest.
It seems absolutely everything makes us feel guilty, almost to the point of it being silly. Sometimes it feels as though you cannot enjoy a single moment because somewhere lurking in the corner of the room is your ever present guilt...always reminding you of the severity of the situation- you are raising children, you made human beings and you are responsible for their upbringing, well-being and general state of mind. And yes, you WILL screw them up...nothing you can do about that...but no pressure.
So, what do we do? We punish ourselves. Pushing ourselves to do things no normal human being should have to do, keeping insane hours, cramming a ridiculous amount of tasks into a day, and just generally feeling like crap when we can't get it all done.
The obscene amount of time I spend thinking about all the things I do wrong and how I am for sure ruining my children and basically with an overall gloomy outlook, got me thinking... What about Dad guilt?
Do Dads spend as much time thinking about their failings as we do? Are they constantly berating themselves for the things they can't do?
As a stay at home mom, I spend every waking minute with my kids and I STILL worry about not spending enough time with them. I can only imagine how my husband feels. Working 15 hour days, nights and generally being kept apart from his family. But I never hear him say he's feeling "guilty"... for all the things you think he might feel guilty for, that would plague a mother to no end, there he is...hard working, nap taking, bbq cooking, toddler playing, baby snuggling, kind of guy. And completely content with what he can do and does not try to be more than that...because he is enough.
And this my friends is the reason Dad's are not plagued with the same all-consuming self-reproach that we as moms come by so naturally.
They have nothing to feel guilty for, and they know it. They are enough. Sure, they feel sad for their kids when the tears are flowing because Daddy is off to work, or when he calls to say he is working late and his wife is about to lose it because she's been with the kids all day, no one has napped and things are getting real ugly, real fast.
Of course, He would rather be there to help or to play with his kids all day and soak up every minute...but he can't, he has to work. That is just the way it is...there is no guilt in that. He is simply doing what needs to be done to provide for his family to the best of his ability.
Somewhere along the line, we have decided that we are not enough, that no matter what we do, how much we give of ourselves, how many sacrifices we make, how many late nights and kissed boo-boos and giving of ourselves when there was simply nothing left to give... it is not enough.
Until we realize that this just isn't true, the ever-present mom guilt will always be with us.
We are enough.
We are worth it and we need to take care of ourselves, now that we are mothers more than ever.
In this area, I will concede, I think our husbands and significant others are a little more advanced than we are.
Maybe what we really need is to try and be more like our husbands. (I know, it feels weird to me too, but stay with me)
Men, God bless em, always take care of themselves. They feed themselves first, make sure they get enough sleep, make sure they get down time, all the things we really need to feel human, normal and not lose our marbles... and I for one would very much like to keep my marbles.
None of this means that they don't take care of their family too. It does not make them bad dads or bad husbands and no one would ever accuse them of such. So, why are we so hard on ourselves, and dare I say it, other moms, too?
We are holding ourselves and woman to a standard we would never expect of our husbands and it has to stop.
So, I decided to try something. Every day, no matter what is happening in my house and in our lives, I do one thing just for myself. The kids can scream, cry, tear my house apart. And unless they are in imminent danger, I just let them. One, thing for myself. Today it is this, putting my thought and feelings down on paper. Yesterday, I painted my toes. Tomorrow? Who knows...maybe I will get crazy and go to the mall! (Grandma are you busy? I need a babysitter.)
You know what has happened? I feel better. I am less stressed, less irritable and I resent everyone just a little bit less.
That doesn't mean I am going to stop trying to have it all and do it all, or that I will suddenly stop caring that my toddler thinks the couch armrests are towels to wipe his honey soaked hands on or that my husband is using one of my decorative pillows to lay on the couch and watch tv, (my eye just started twitching thinking about it). It doesn't mean my kids are going to expect any less from me or my days will be any less chaotic...it just means I will handle it all a little better. Because I have something for myself.
Something that makes me feel nurtured and taken care of and whole...and enough.
It really doesn't take much, just a few minutes of putting ourselves first can help us start to see it all clear again.
This half an hour of "me time" that I have to look forward to every day may very well be my salvation. Mom guilt, take a hike. You are not welcome here today. My house is a mess, my kids are out of control...and I am ignoring the doorbell! Just like our husbands or partners we have nothing to feel guilty for!
Quite the epiphany.
And to think, I owe it all to my husband...huh...