Every time I drop them at daycare and one of them cries.
Every time I talk to a stay at home mom who is miserable.
Every time I talk to a Mom of a teenager in trouble who cries questioning and doubting every choice they made starting at birth.
Every time I make a choice for myself that is ultimately always for my family to be better or more stable.
I think maybe women are so used to negative self talk that adding in Mom guilt on top of body shaming, work guilt, food guilt, friend guilt, family guilt, etc. just isn’t a big deal.
But it is. I see it eat away at people. I also think it’s bullshit.
Some Mom’s want/need/have to stay at home with their kids. I did for eighteen weeks when they were born and I wanted to die. So I’m not one of them. Neither is my wife. My sons love daycare, and they go four days a week and are home with my wife and I the other three. They only went three days for the first year. But I shouldn’t have to defend our decisions. Because even if they went full time from the start that should be okay.
But for some people it’s not.
I love my kids. I love my wife. I love my career. I don’t want to sacrifice any of it. I want my kids to be proud of my accomplishments when they are old enough to understand them. I want to set an example to strive for great things. Can a stay at home mom do this? Yes. Absolutely. We are just coming at it from different angles.
I don’t want to be forty-five watching them leave for college and look at my life and my marriage and realize being a Mom has defined me. I want to define being a Mom on my own terms. I want it to be a part of who I am, but not the entirety of who I will be. And I don’t want to be made to feel guilty by any one else for feeling this way. I want more experiences jumping off piers in Mexico. Without my kids there.
I see women on the other side. College, moved away, in another state, side of motherhood. It’s not pretty. It’s ugly. There is soul searching, sometimes marriages end, and women try to rebuild themselves.
From the time they are born we are made to question ourselves, feel guilty: formula/breastfeeding, solids at six months or twelve or three, rice or oatmeal, circumcised or not. Then it’s what daycare, what preschool, and God forbid their preschool doesn’t serve organic milk and antibiotic free carrots and hummus. Then what kindergarten, you want to keep twins together? What? The what sports, activities, band, arg. It goes on. So many ways and reasons to feel Mom guilt. So many expectations by society.
But in the end, I’m not going to give in. I’m a woman first and foremost. I’m not going to be taken over by the woulda coulda shoulda’s of parenthood. Because we are doing the best we can, as I’m sure most other Mom’s are too. So give yourself a pat on the back. Your kids are alive? Asleep? Mostly clean? Fed? A freaking plus.
And we deserve extra credit today for allowing them to run around the yard naked after they stripped to nothing as we pulled dead worms out of the pool vacuum. I mean seriously. We love our kids.