guilty? me?

26Apr10

I briefly caught part of an interview with Jennifer Lopez as I was heading to preschool pickup this morning.  She was talking about how guilty she feels for all the time she spends away from her kids.  Within the interview, she alluded to the fact that all mothers want to be with their kids all the time and she feels guilty for the time that she doesn’t spend with her children.

Yikes.

I suppose the parenting police are coming to my door because, what I am guilty of is wanting some time away from my kids.  But, then again, I do feel guilty when I am not with them because I am usually in a better place and want to be with them when they aren’t with me.  Of course, I feel guilty about admitting that I enjoy them immensely (sometimes I am that annoying mother who seemingly dotes on her children).  Then, I am, of course, guilty about the mere fact that I am admitting that I enjoy my time away from them…

How are we suppose to win this?  No parenting manual prepares us for the back and forth saga of guilt that childbearing breeds.   Everyone talks about the fantasy part of parenting; the part that doesn’t really exist.  And, then, once we are in it for the long haul we spend a whole lot of time wondering what happened to us; trying to find ourselves; creating space to do so; and consequently, feeling guilty about the time we find because we read somewhere that we should want to be with our kids.

But, maybe it is just me.  I tend to carry around a lot of guilt that I don’t need to; I tend to create guilt where it doesn’t need to be.

Nope.  It’s not just me.  I hear this all the time.  We not only spend a lot of time thinking about it, we spend the time we are away from our kids talking about it.  The guilt.  The struggle to find time for ourselves.  The desire to be a better parent.  You may be guilty too.

I am a guilty mother;  I feel bad about needing to be away.  I feel overwhelmed by wanting to come back.  I expect too much; I give too much – I am guilty of both.  I long to find the balance but, feel guilty about wanting the balance because I should probably be content with the status quo.  I want my kids to be aware and grateful while also wanting them to have as much as I can give to them.  This struggle is universal; this guilt a mother’s curse.

We spend a lot of time mapping our road to parenting. We envision the future, we plan out the “big talks”, we save money, we spend money.  We have to do it all the time; every moment, every decision, nearly every thought we have is shaded with our kids.

Then, we realize, we have to find time for us.  So, we go back to work or we try to convince ourselves that we like work, that it is quality, adult time that makes us a better parent.  We hire sitters and go to the movies where we can spend some time away.  We plan weekend trips and leave the kids behind so that we can rejuvenate ourselves.  We stay up late or get up early in order to have some quiet time.  We dedicate ourselves to a cause that requires our service on the weekends.  We find a hobby that we have to do alone.

I am wavering, worrying because my time is ticking.  My employment salvation is ending.  My summer is beginning.  My time, the little that I had, is no longer mine…

I am realizing, rather suddenly, that I am scared to not work.  I am scared to be obligated to my kids all day long.   No work.  No adult time.  No extra (guilt-free) money to spend on a sitter so that I can go to the movies and dinner.

I will.  It’s just that I am already feeling guilty about the cost of my sanity.   And, the sanity excursions will have to be less frequent which, as you probably guessed by now, has me worrying and feeling guilty about the mother I will be.

Don’t tell me I deserve it.  I know that.  Don’t tell me my kids will be fine.  I know that too.

Don’t tell me not to feel guilty.

I have been.  I will be.

I am.

Yep, guilty.  As charged.

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One Response to “guilty? me?”

  1. 1 Lynne Sanderson

    And here all these years I thought this was my little secret!!! Enjoy the guilt and your free moments … it’s all good!


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