The weekend came and went with a whirlwind of activity. Much like it often does.
Book club and movie night with my daughters on Friday night. Hustling and driving three kids around to sports on Saturday in addition to shopping, errands, and clothing returns. My husband and I also began work on a small porch makeover. Sunday arrived and we attended church and then grabbed some bagels with the kids before I spent the rest of the afternoon organizing my desk, paying bills, planning our school week, and working more on the porch project.
And despite all that we did and all that I accomplished and all of the fun we had, I still felt guilty on Sunday night. I hadn’t done enough. I hadn’t been enough.
Mommy guilt. Guilt over my never-ending failure to do all things in all categories perfectly.
What on earth was troubling me? In reality, my weekend was incredibly productive and fun. Yet the joy of productivity and fun was being overshadowed by a feeling of guilt.
What IS troubling me? It is the question I have learned to ask myself when mom guilt sets in. It might take a few days of pondering or a phone conversation with a friend to get to the heart of the matter, but I know that I have to get to the source. And then I have to tackle it head on.
Sometimes tackling it looks like a reality check. I remind myself the truth of my reality. “Of course I feel guilty about the neglected laundry, I am teaching and mothering four kids all day and am exhausted at night. It can wait.”
Other times tackling it looks like a phone call to a good friend. The kind of call where you share the source of your guilt and she gives you a reality check. “Girl. No one can do it all. You gotta let things go.” And then she reminds you of the reasons you rock.
Then there are times that tackling it means action. This occurs when my guilt comes from a concrete and definable source. A messy house. Harsh words. A spouse you haven’t talked to in days. An unfinished task. When there is something I need to do because it is weighing on me, I make it a priority. Perhaps an apology needs to be made. Maybe school needs to be canceled so we can clean the house from top to bottom. It might be time to put a date night on the calendar. Whatever priority needs to be established, I make sure it happens as soon as possible.
Turns out that this past weekend, I felt guilty that I hadn’t given my kids enough attention. My 7 and 9-year old sons mentioned on Friday that they wanted to learn how to play the game, Risk. I hadn’t taken the time to teach them all weekend.
Never mind that they hadn’t asked again. For some reason, their request began to bother me. Of course, this led to even more guilt as I realized that I hadn’t really chatted individually with any of my kids other than the one I drove to sports.
Funny how guilt begets guilt like that.
And so I failed. In MY mind at least. And MY mind is the one I have to settle up with at the end of the day. Whether or not my guilt is based in reality doesn’t always seem to matter.
I hadn’t taught my boys to play Risk. I couldn’t get past it.
Clearly, a game of Risk would have to be played on Monday. The perfect opportunity occurred in the afternoon and I took it. Meanwhile, my school plans for the afternoon had to be shelved.
Truth be told, the game playing wasn’t the picture perfect bonding time that I imagined in my head. Things rarely are. Siblings argued. The setup and learning curve caused some boredom. But we made it through a decent amount of the game before my kids were ready to go outside and play instead.
And then my day continued forward.
Math was left unfinished and spelling lessons remained untouched, but we tore up a 50-minute introduction to the game of Risk!
And that mommy guilt feeling in the pit of my stomach? It disappeared…at least for now.
Does anyone else struggle with mommy guilt? How do you handle it?