If you have been with me for all of the This is Me posts, you already know about the long, difficult journey that Adam and I had in becoming parents. Through all of that, that time of waiting, that time of longing, that time of thinking about who I would be as a mom…I don’t think I ever thought about life with a child older than 6 months.
When I dreamt about being a mom, I thought about the baby stage. Sure, there were passing thoughts about shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress, or watching my son play sports. But I never thought about how I, as the MOM, would behave, look, feel, express love, or parent an older child.
Let’s get the cliches out of the way: motherhood is HARD. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever love. You will be driven absolutely insane and simultaneously adore that thing that’s driving you insane with every ounce of your being. Did I cover it all?
So here is my confession. The thing that I feel defines motherhood for me is…guilt.
In a way, I feel like that is also cliche to say. Afterall, there is the #momguilt hashtag that is thrown around these days. But it is something that no one prepared me for as a mother and it’s something that I struggle with more than almost anything else.
I don’t love getting on the floor and playing with toys with my kids. And I feel guilty for that.
I don’t have much time in my life for cooking and meal planning and making sure my kids eat healthy. And I feel guilty for that.
A common scenario in my house is parking my kid in front of the TV because I have two galleries due and haven’t even touched the emails in my inbox. And I feel guilty for that.
Another common scenario is letting my kid spend an hour on his iPad even though I’m doing NOTHING because my brain is at utter capacity and I just need a minute. And I feel guilty for that.
Adam and I tend to value experiences, immediate gratification, and being generous with gifts to our kids over saving money for emergencies and future endeavors. And I feel guilty for that.
Sometimes we punish our kids for acting out due to feelings that I can completely relate to. And I feel guilty for that.
I work. And I feel guilty for that.
My oldest cries when he gets home from school right as I’m leaving for the evening for photo sessions. And I feel guilty for that.
I love my job. And I feel guilty for that.
I need help sometimes from grandparents and babysitters because try as I might, I cannot be there 24/7. And I feel guilty for that.
I can be selfish and exasperated and yell at my kids for small infractions because I have bad days of my own. And I feel guilty for that.
I disagree with how Adam handles certain parenting situations sometimes. And I feel guilty for that.
Not necessarily mom-related, but as a little peek into my guilt-laden brain: I drive to the grocery store and think about the gas I’m using and wonder if I could’ve held out a little longer and made the grocery trip next week instead. Our cupboards aren’t bare after all. Should the money I’ll be spending on gas and food should go towards something else? And I feel guilty for that. (Adam was shocked by this one and suggested therapy, but we’re just gonna use this blog post as therapy for now, ha!)
Tip of the iceberg here, people. That’s just the beginning.
In all my years of dreaming and yearning before I had my kids, of loving these babies I hadn’t even met, of mourning the loss of the one I never would…I had not the slightest inkling about the feeling that would overwhelm my heart and life almost more than anything.
And the truth is…I don’t know what to do about it. None of those things will change. I will feel guilty about all of those things until we grow out of some of them. And others I will probably carry with me forever.
I saw this comic recently:
They will remember that you were there.
So. Full honesty here…I have not a single solution for you today. All I’m doing is laying out my problem. Can you relate? Have you found peace? Or a solution? Or a way to change your thinking? In general, all I do is bask in my guilt. I don’t have an immediate solution or a way to even make it a tiny bit less. I guess what I can do is try to think more about the times that I was there:
Putting my kids to bed every night, each with their own special routine. I was there.
Holding my 3-year-old and staring at his face in awe that I get to be his mom. I was there.
Asking my 7-year-old what his favorite part of school was and praising him for doing well. I was there.
Telling my kids I love them (probably too often for their liking!). I was there.
Explaining compassion to my children and telling them how proud I am that this is a quality they both possess…having those important conversations. I was there.
Having special inside jokes with my boys that no one else would understand. I was there.
Spending time being creative together – drawing, coloring, crafting. I was there.
Being the only person they want when they are hurt or sad. I was there.
And in the end…the guilt…it’s worth it. Motherhood is an imperfect science that affects every woman in their own unique way. This guilt is my burden to bear, but if that is what it takes in order for me to be their mom, then I accept it. I don’t love it, but I accept it.
Now. I’m going to go cuddle with my son on the couch because I feel guilty for taking the time away from him to write this post.