How I Let Guilt Affect My Life
On a glorious day I ran to Target : ALL.BY.MYSELF!!! What?! It’s like a mom’s dream outing, right?! My husband said, “Take your time, get a Starbucks…” You bet I did not miss out on that chance. I drove my minivan to the mecca listening to Taylor Swift and feeling so carefree.
But, that carefree feeling only lasted until my latte was lukewarm and I realized that with the drive time, finding a parking spot, and waiting in line for coffee…
I’D ALREADY BEEN GONE 40 MINUTES!
I started to feel hot and sweaty, even jittery, as I blitzed through the stylish home decor, passing ALL.THE.CUTE.STUFF. to grab the items that I had to remember (milk, fruit squeezers, bananas) before going home.
Suddenly my leisurely Target run turned so stressful knowing my whole family will now be home for A WHOLE HOUR without me!
WHAT WILL THEY DO?!
Did the kids wash their hands before their after school snack? Did they head outside for some playtime?
Is my husband getting impatient? Is he starting dinner?
Did I remember to start the dryer? Did I leave the beds unmade?
Goodness gracious...all the anxiety of the day rushes in when I am supposed to be HAVING A MOMENT TO MYSELF.
So, I run like a renegade through the rest of the Target store, driving my cart on two wheels, rushing through the self-checkout and running out to my minivan. I rush home to my husband and my babies who NEED ME….
Only to find them playing a fun game of “homerun derby”, a family favorite, in the backyard. All smiles and laughter.
As I stand and watch from the window looking out on my husband and three kids having so much fun together, I realized it didn’t matter that I had been gone for a lengthy 64 minutes.
At Target, I felt so guilty. I felt so bad for leaving them. I felt so selfish for needing the time alone when they needed me.
But now, I felt worse. I should have taken that time and used it more wisely. I should have enjoyed it. I should have relaxed and recharged. I should have trusted my husband, who is a great dad, to have a fun afternoon with the kids.
This is just one instance of many that I know most moms can totally relate to! Why exactly do we struggle so intensely with feelings of guilt?
Guilt is defined as: having offended, committed a crime, or deserving blame (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Most of us moms probably do not fit that definition. Still, we feel guilty a lot of the time for what we do or don’t do for or with our kids. I really struggle with these feelings and I have been trying to reflect on why guilt has so much power over me.
Even as I sit here, my almost five year old is begging to color with me...looking up at me with her big blue eyes and saying “Mom, don’t you want to color with me?”. Almost any other moment in the day, I can stop what I’m doing and color, but I set aside some time right now to write this article!
And guess what: I feel guilty.
I am home all day with my daughter - the youngest of my three kids. Next year she will go to Kindergarten (and it will be an apocalypse for me as a mom, but that’s for another article). My girl and I spend all day everyday together and we do some pretty cool stuff. We do art and play doh, we take outings, we bake, we read books, we have imaginative play time, we even do some work around the house (she loves dusting and sweeping!). I’ve been through different seasons over my 9+ years as a mom and for the most part, I am doing a pretty great job...or at least I’m doing my best (even when my best feels not-so-awesome).
Yet, even after all I do to enrich my kids’ lives and my experience as a mom, I still feel guilty.
Wow, halfway through writing this article I’ve stopped four times to color with my adorably persistent daughter!
Because I just feel so bad if I don’t stop to color with her. Will she feel unimportant? Will she think she is not a priority? Will she hold a grudge? Will I hurt her self-esteem?
Honestly, I don’t know. But, I also know I am a better mom when I have the courage to say “No” or “Not right now”. Because the truth is, I need a little moment for myself every now and then. I need to be able to answer emails, pay bills, bring the groceries in from the car, go to the bathroom, and have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband (still working on figuring this one out...let me know if you have the answer!).
So why do we struggle with these feelings of guilt as moms? There are probably some scientific answers about pathology, gender, or personality...I don’t know exactly, but I’m trying to remember my trip to Target and give everyone around me the credit they deserve. Everyone can survive for a minute without me. A school lunch isn’t going to kill them if I don’t get their lunches made. Just this week my boys started washing, folding, and putting away their OWN laundry...and YES: I felt guilty about it. But my boys are so proud of their new accomplishment and responsibility! It’s little things that will make a difference and I’m on a journey...and you are too, so enjoy the moments you have to recharge and fight those feelings of guilt…
especially when a solo Target run is at stake.
PS - By the end of writing this article, my daughter has busied herself with another project she easily found on her own! Now, we can get back to that coloring. :)
Oh, the wretched mom guilt. We are definitely all plagued by this at one point or another...or all day long like Jill. How does guilt affect your day-to-day as a mom? And what do you do to take care of yourself more to alleviate these feelings? Please share in the comments below!