Man, I wish I could go running tonight after work. But the kids! I haven't seen the kids today.
So, yeah, the girls are going out for dinner on Saturday night, but I should probably stay home. I haven't spent much time with the kids this week. Work and all, you know.
I know this 6:00 pm meeting is important, but my kids are in bed by 8:00 pm and I've been in the office since 7:00 am! I haven't even SEEN THEM TODAY.
Ah, yes. The Mommy Guilt is at it again. A nasty little hobgoblin, that one.
Before I had kids, "mommy guilt" was not something I was able to empathize with. It was something pretty foreign to me, as real as the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy, and I leant it about that same merit.
Now that I have kids and I'm a working mom, Mommy Guilt is what owns me a lot of the time. Mommy Guilt drives a lot of my decision making when it comes to time management, and also when it comes to budget. Mommy Guilt is a pretty nasty little devil in my ear.
It's not at all uncommon that I see my kids maybe two or three hours a day during the week, and that's it. Some days, I don't even get that time. But it's how I provide for my family. So even as it eats away at me, I find ways to soothe that savage beast. Toys! Toys will fix that! How about more clothes for the boys! I'll buy them all this STUFF and they'll feel complete again.
I am notorious for doing this. It's true. It's a lot easier for me to throw a toy/book/game/snack/something into my cart while running through Target for weekly groceries than it is for me to listen to that nagging Mommy Guilt in my ear. It hushes the Guilt pretty significantly.
I ran into a guy some time ago who had four kids in private school. I glibly wished that I wish I could send MY kids to that school, and he said that they sacrifice in other areas to make it work.
He said, "We don't buy them STUFF. We buy them education and experiences."
This conversation happened a mere week before Alabama was ravaged by tornadoes in April of 2011. And as we picked up the pieces of our lives, his words seemed clearer. Don't replace STUFF. Give them memories. Give them experiences. Give them new air to breathe.
The week following the tornadoes, we were without power. Instead of sitting in the dark and morbidly listening to the news, we decided to drive an hour or two north and spend a weekend in Chattanooga, Tennessee. We hadn't taken the boys to the many, many things to do there. We decided that - especially for THAT weekend - spending the money on experiences rather than stuff was the right decision.
We visited Rock City and the Tennessee Aquarium. We walked along downtown and the river and stopped in at all the shops, even if we bought nothing the entire day. We took tons of pictures.
The boys STILL talk about that weekend. They don't talk about the tornadoes or the fear or the despair or anything surrounding the tornadoes - they remember petting an owl at Rock City's Wild Bird Exhibit. They remember having pillow fights in the hotel. They remember petting sting rays at the aquarium. They remember the road trip.
With that in mind, we made big decisions. We now take monthly excursions - never far, never more than three hours away - for just a weekend. Maybe two nights in a hotel, sometimes just one night. We see the local educational attractions and we eat at locally-owned restaraunts. I am SO INCREDIBLY EXCITED that we're visiting Atlanta in two weeks so that all of us - all four of us, ages 4 to 40 - will do a 5K called The Color Run. I can't wait to see what memories that makes.
I've stopped allowing Mommy Guilt to own me. I've stopped encouraging it to make me feel inadequate as a mother. I'm allowing myself to find time for me now.
Because one weekend a month, we all hop in the car and I give them a lifetime of experiences.
What makes your Mommy Guilt cry the loudest? How can you silence it? (Or at least quiet it down a bit?)
by elasmimiMarch 19, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Off topic, but I'm from Chattanooga. Glad you enjoyed our beautiful city.
by elasmimiMarch 19, 2012 at 11:43 PM
I tend to do a lot of the buying toys kind of things too, but my "mommy guilt" comes from the fact that I'm mommy to my great grandchild, and really can't do all the things I would like to do with her. Now, the best time we have are when we go to amusement parks and I rent a Jazzy scooter, so I can travel the parks for 10 hour days and not collapse. We also manage to do girl's morning out, breakfast, yard sales, the park, anything to let her have my undivided attention for a little while.
by JRnKKMarch 19, 2012 at 11:59 PM
my son it too small to give me guilt but i am greatfull that he has a great father that takes good care of him and i dont have to worry..my job lets me talk to them every 2 hours
by daerca574March 20, 2012 at 8:12 AM
I read this yesterday and posted, it stuck in my mind and so I have comment again. The whole mommy guilt trip shouldn't even be a question. I know I am a good parent and that even though I struggle to spend equal amounts of time with my children, I make all those times count. They are happy, healthy, clothed, and fed. and Loved a whole lot.
by ceciliamMarch 20, 2012 at 9:38 AM
I don't really suffer from mommy guilt but this was a great/touching post:)
by KaylaMillarMarch 20, 2012 at 10:53 AMMy kids don't give it to me thankfully. If they did it would probably crush me
by mavsmom711March 20, 2012 at 12:01 PM
As a working mom, I understand Mommy Guilt. It isn't about the words our kids say to us, it's about the way we feel when we have to leave our kids. I cried when daycare told me my son rolled over for the first time. I had missed it and I was upset because I knew it was only the first of many milestones I miss. I feel like I am missing part of myself if I stop for dinner with friends instead of heading straight home and my baby is asleep when I get there. I know I have to work to support my family but it doesn't make me hate the time I miss with my child any less. If I could change our cirmcumstances, I would but then I wonder if the Mommy Guilt would shift to something else. Would it be me feeling guilty for needing time away from my child? Would it be because we are able to live as comfortably as we do now? I'm not sure. I don't know that the guilt of wondering if you are doing enough for your child ever really goes away but changes based on circumstances and time.
I love the idea of giving experiences instead of things. I have fond memories of the few times my family took vacations together even if it was just a short weekend away. I hope I am able to do that for my son as he gets older and can enjoy the experiences. For now, I will just have to find experiences that I will enjoy watching him experience.
by Leelee1008March 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM
When I cant make it to school functions or sports games. Normally I can make it but they get upset when I cant. Luckily right now im a SAHM so I get to spend alot of time with them.
by Leelee1008March 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
I like the idea of giving them experiences and memories and we try to do taht as well. My kids dont want for much, but they dont get stuff all the time. More for special occasions.
March 20, 2012 at 1:32 PM
Loved this! No to mommy guilt!