Parenting

Mom Guilt: Yeah, I’m Over It. (mostly)

Guilt is a universal feeling though it rears its ugly head in different ways, using different strategies for each person. We must all learn to tackle this beast in our own way and find the strategies that work for us.

I have been working hard to be reasonable, rational, and really honest with myself as I attack the ridiculous guilt that creeps up on me.

Yes. Ridiculous. Some guilt is just plain ridiculous.

Ridiculous guilt might be silly, but it can feel very real and serious. Recently, I’ve been working through on five guilt-inducing triggers that I think are pretty ridiculous and I am going to let you in on them.

Because in the end, not only do I need to embrace who I am, but I also need to embrace the four unique people I am raising.

Mom Guilt: Latin

I thought that I was done with feeling guilty over this one because it was over two years ago that I decided to give up on teaching Latin.

But then I realize that it was my oldest who fought me so much, and I begin to feel like maybe I should try again with my other three kids.

And the Latin curriculum still stares at me from the cabinet.

My public school friends laugh at me when I mention feeling guilty about not teaching my kids Latin. And so do several of my homeschool mom friends.

Which reminds me that only when one started out as a Classical Homeschooler can one understand the depth of guilt that comes with a failure to teach Latin.

But I’m over it. Mostly.

Mom Guilt: Puzzles

My kids don’t enjoy completing jigsaw puzzles.

Well, there was that time that one of them toyed with the idea of enjoying puzzles, but after receiving a few for her birthday, she changed her mind. Ironically she is a visual genius and puts them together with ease, but she still would rather go play.

Why do I feel guilty? Seriously. Why on earth is there guilt about this one?

I have no good reason, but I think when my kids were little there were people in some of my circles that liked to drop how they were so impressed with how bright their kids were based on puzzles.

Maybe the comparison bug bit me. I don’t know. Because this one is really silly.

Yet it drove me to borrow some puzzles from a friend recently for the kids to complete.

In the end, I am the one who completed the puzzle. mostly alone. and then I returned both of the borrowed puzzles without even attempting the second one because my sneaky puzzle strewing wasn’t working.

My kids weren’t fooled into suddenly loving puzzles, though we did have a nice 20 minutes of puzzle solving together.

Mom Guilt: Raising Readers

Hi. My name is Mary Wilson and my kids aren’t “readers”. At least not the way I define that term in my head.

I take that back. One of them is. Kinda.

But for the most part, they are not the kids who will pick up a book for fun in their spare time. They’d rather play outside, ride a bike, jump on the trampoline, play computer, watch a TV show, or even just stare at me. bored.

But three out of four of my kids won’t typically turn to a book for enjoyment.

I hear about kids who won’t. stop. reading. and their moms have run out of titles to get them at the library. Their moms whine about having no more books for their kids to read.

And I refrain from slapping these mothers. Most of the time.

I am not familiar with such children.

Mom Guilt

I believed my children would be these types of readers.

After all, I did and continue to do everything “right” on this one. We attended library classes regularly when they were little and we continue to go to the library together.  My kids have enjoyed bedtime reading from their parents since they were babies. I read out loud to them for at least 30-60 minutes a day. I fill bookcases in their bedrooms, the hallway, and downstairs with a variety of books. We listen to audio books as a family. They have independent reading time every night while in bed.

The list goes on.

I even started crazy, fun party school book clubs for each of them.

And somehow I believed that by doing these things meant that I would “raise readers”.

Heck, I went the extra mile and gave them my DNA. I am a crazy sort of reader who has really long lists of books going all of the time. And I am more than happy to model this behavior of reading all. of. the. time.

So I’ve covered nature. I’ve covered nurture.

They both failed. Let me hang my homeschool mom head in shame.

But I am not going to stop there on this one. I am slowly embracing the reality of who my kids are on this one. I am working through this ridiculous feeling of failure.

My kids all read books in bed at night because there is nothing else to do for enjoyment. And they do truly enjoy it.

My oldest enjoys reading the same books over and over and over (ie: Harry Potter) and occasionally gets on a reading kick and branches out for awhile. Then she returns to Hogwarts. Can you blame her? She mainly reads at bedtime but has been caught reading during the day during recent kicks.

My second child also reads the same books over and over and over. Her favorite choices are all from the Minecraft book series by Mark Cheverton.

It took me awhile to accept the value of digging deep instead of branching out when it comes to reading. But now I get it. And I appreciate their deep love and knowledge of one book series.

My third child is the one who might appease my guilt in this area with actual broad, “just for fun” reading at the drop of a hat. He takes books along for the ride sometimes. He prefers non-fiction, which baffles me because that is not my genre. Overall, he really is the exception to my guilty feelings some days.

My last child will read his favorite comic books at night and is perfectly capable of reading, but isn’t interested in engaging books on his own during the day. at all. ever.

So what’s a mom to do?

That depends. Do you prefer Disney or Pop?

Cause you either need to Let It Go or Shake It Off. And then move on.

Call me Taylor because I am still working on shaking it off and in the meantime, we continue on. We listen to audio books, and I continue to read to my kids and in front of my kids. I assign a reasonable number of titles for their school year. And they continue to read their favorites in bed at night.

It isn’t the picture of “readers” that I thought I would raise, but they are all capable of reading and discussing literature.

More importantly, they have all experienced the beauty of a well-written story, the deep connection with a character in a book, and tension of a cliff-hanging adventure novel. And in the end, isn’t that what matters?

Mom Guilt: Piano Lessons

Each of my children is required to take two years of piano lessons. Beyond that requirement, I don’t push them to continue.

I give in to their quitting.

Because they don’t care. No one has really LOVED music lessons, though one child has been “ok” with it.

And ultimately, my time and their time has limits. After their required two years, I am ready to free up that time if they don’t want to continue.

But sometimes, I feel like I should channel even a tiny teaspoon of my inner tiger mom and I should push them.

That’s usually when I realize that I don’t have a teaspoon of the tiger mom in me in reality.

My real fear: Will they wish I had pushed them?

I can’t answer that. But I am working on being content with the decision not to push them.

Maybe if they would just do a puzzle for me instead….

Mom Guilt: Nature Study

This is the most recent feeling of guilt I have identified. So be gentle. It’s still fresh.

We don’t enjoy nature walks, nature studies, or time in nature on a regular basis anymore.

There. I said it.

Mom Guilt: Nature Study

When we lived in Maryland and I had four little ones, nature study was part of our weekly school routine. We lived on the greenway trail and it was only a short walk to the river. We walked outside several times a week and it was so healthy. and nature-y. and important.

Then we moved to North Carolina.

The lake and greenway are a short drive and we took advantage regularly for quite some time. We walked, threw rocks, took classes at nature centers, and enjoyed the outdoors.

But then the oldest child began to get older. And I couldn’t make it stop.

Outside classes. Time with friends. Volunteer work. Part-time jobs. Time with friends. Bookclubs. Time with friends.

New experiences began to fill our calendar for the health and well-being of the teenager in the house and everyone adjusted. And the younger three kids began to make a ton of friends on the street and they reached the age where they can run around the neighborhood for HOURS every day with friends.

No one wants to go to the playground. Or lake. Or park. Or even the pool. UNLESS their friends can come.

They want to play outside with their friends. on bikes. trampolines. ripstiks.

And somehow, I feel guilty about this.

It’s the tricky guilt of a mom who has a 7-year-old who doesn’t get to go to the playground every week. And doesn’t take regular nature walks. And can’t identify a maple leaf or an oak leaf.

It’s pretty ridiculous, isn’t’ it? My kids are so happy with their lives and their friends. They get hours of fresh air every single day.

But then I see pictures of mommas with their little ones on Instagram playing in nature and exchanging nature kits and identifying flowers and the guilty feeling settles in.

We should go to the lake. We should canoe. We should hike at the creek. We should

There are a lot of “shoulds” in my head and I am changing them to “could”.

We could go to the lake. We could canoe. We could hike at the creek.

OR we could stay here at home and the kids can play with their friends. Where they are completely happy and content.

Yep. Guilty feelings about time in nature from the mom who took her kids on an 18-day adventure out west where we hiked daily all over the most amazing National Parks in the US. Guilty feelings from a mom who braves camping with her kids a few times a year.

Only proving that feelings of guilt are not always based in reality.

Sometimes they are based on memories of the past. Sometimes they are based on expectations. Sometimes they are based on future hopes.

And sometimes they are based on someone else’s life on Instagram or Facebook.

No matter where the guilt is coming from, I am naming it. Unpacking it. And then confronting it with reality and telling it to the hit the road.

This is one of my summer plans.

Join me. Feel free to name your ridiculous guilt here and let’s kick it to the curb together.

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27 Comments

  • Reply Kendra June 22, 2017 at 6:34 am

    I love this post! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with mom guilt. The main thing I feel guilty about is my children “missing out” on friendships because of my decision to homeschool. I’m not worried at all about socialization – they interact with a variety of people of all ages frequently during the week and they’ve demonstrated to me that they are friendly and kind and do wonderfully in social situations. However, their friends are my friends’ kids or their cousins. Their friends are the kids they have simply known all of their lives and who have been invited to the birthday parties automatically. There are no other children on our street and my kids are young, so we haven’t entered the world of organized sports or activities yet. As my friends’ kids have started entering the public school system, they all seem to be finding “inseparable best friends” in their peer group, and my children don’t have this opportunity. Yet. I know my kids are developing wonderful friendships with each other and they have some great built-in friends, but I can’t help but feel guilty that they haven’t found their little tribes of friends with similar interests.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Yes. this! I have felt similar guilt over my high schooler as everyone at church has their “group” from school. It can be hard on her sometimes, but she choose to stay home next year and I think that says something. We just have to focus on that amazing sibling and family bonds and then I am sure yours will branch out one day with no problems!

  • Reply Hannah French June 22, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    A well written article I needed to read today! Thank you!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 25, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks Hannah!

  • Reply Kay Bagwell June 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    ❤️ this! Great timing as I’m in the midst of my annual planning the “perfect” school year with a plan that might last one day. Love the
    “That depends. Do you prefer Disney or Pop?

    Cause you either need to Let It Go or Shake It Off. And then move on.”. Yep !!!!!! Thanks for keeping it real. I tell people I don’t teach subjects; I teach Lara. Then I forget and start planning everything under the sun to the minute detail. I’m a work in progress, but I’m happy where I am.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 25, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      I love that Kay! “I don’t teach subjects, I teach Lara.” I am totally taking that!

  • Reply Jenny White June 23, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Yes. Yes to all of it. WOW. Some of these hit me…I didn’t even realize I felt guilty about them, but I do.

  • Reply Stephanie June 23, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    THANK YOU MARY!!!! I’ve felt guilty about so many of the same things (especially raising readers). I’ve actually been stressing over whether or not my son’s education will be complete if we never read the Little House series – good grief!!!! I’ve stopped looking for local homeschool groups to do things with because I always leave feeling guilty and like I’m screwing up my son’s education because it seems among moms it’s a competition about whose child is the most advanced. Ugh!!!! This post just gave me new confidence as I start planning our school year. Thanks so so much!!!!!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Oh my gosh. I am so glad I am not alone. Aren’t the thoughts sometimes just crazy?? LOL! Let’s attack this year with confidence in who WE are and who THEY are.

      I always remind myself that I graduated high school and never read, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I don’t think I can screw up as much as my teachers did….LOLOLOLOLOL!

  • Reply Dachelle @ Hide The Chocolate June 24, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    I definitely have the nature study guilt. I just am not terribly fond of nature. I also have that Charlotte Mason composer study guilt, but luckily I have zero guilt about not teaching habits. I’m not going there.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      I almost spit on my keyboard…”zero guilt about not teaching habits”. <3

  • Reply Kathleen Murphy June 24, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    I love this post! You really do need to get over the mom guilt about raising readers. Newsflash – you’re kids are readers!! 🙂 Everything you wrote sounds like they’re doing well with their reading. You shouldn’t feel guilty if they’re not reading all the time. See them as being well-rounded and able to entertain themselves in many ways. I felt like we were in the same boat with reading until you listed all the ways they actually do spend time reading. Now I really have mom guilt. 🙂
    Thanks for the awesome posts as always!!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 25, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Kathleen. It is true – some of my guilt is ridiculous based on my expectations/desires that are so silly. I hope I can keep working on it!

  • Reply Angela June 25, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I have always been prone to ridiculous guilt long before kids and homeschooling. My husband calls it “grabbing free floating anxiety”. But man, homeschooling your children is ripe for it. 🙂 So it is nice to know I am not the only one with Latin guilt, Instagram envy, and anxieties about raising readers. My current guilt is moving my children yet again. Moving is a legit stressor but the “mom guilt” ramps up for sure. Especially when I am so busy freaking out about schooling high school and getting the nine year old to “reading level”.

    I think we need a homeschool parent place like Post Secret where we can just post our ridiculous or very real anxietities and then move forward with dealing with them in real life.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 25, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      Feel free to use this post for any dumping you need to do 🙂 LOL! I do agree that supportive FB groups, homeschool communities, families, and friends are great to listen to us and keep us in check. Mom guilt can ramp up over just about anything, can’t it?

  • Reply Patty June 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    LOL I understand….. Love you.

  • Reply Indasa Butler June 30, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Yaaaaaaas! Thank you! I was starting to feel guilt for the summer schedule we (I) created. 2 weeks on and 1 week off. But, I need to take care of some administrative stuff or we will be in a lot of hurt at the end of the year. Most of that stuff takes some time to start, patience to wait and a lot of follow-ups. I was starting to feel like maybe I should sneak in a movie for some type of unit study during the off week. Hah! Help me!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 30, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      Take the week OFF! Yes. Let yourself. But I totally understand how those feelings creep in.

  • Reply Amy June 30, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Sigh. I get it! I have the guilt too. For me, it’s the opposite of the “reader guilt” – my son only wants to read. Ever. He doesn’t want to go outside, he doesn’t want to play with the kids in the neighborhood WHO WANT TO PLAY WITH HIM, he doesn’t care about fresh air. And it kills me. What if he never appreciates the outdoors like my girls do? Why won’t he play with the other kids? What have I done wrong with my son? Aren’t boys supposed to get dirty and dig for worms and ride their bikes all day and play army and . . . yeah, no. My son can’t stand dirt and smells better than my girls. And he’s happy. So, so happy. I gotta let this one go.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 30, 2017 at 8:45 pm

      Yes. Isn’t it crazy? We have the opposites and both feel guilty. But we both have happy kids and that is where our focus should be. <3

  • Reply Kathryn June 30, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Loved this! Thank you. I tend to have the Charlotte Mason guilt – no formal nature study, not reading all the books, etc. Mostly I end up feeling guilty not living up to my own expectations though! I want to do so much more than we would ever have time for, especially with the high needs toddler in the mix. I really need to remember these things when I am planning for the next year, and “Let it go!”

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 30, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      That’s right. You have a toddler – channel your inner Elsa 🙂

  • Reply Jamie June 30, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Love, love, love! I don’t kick myself quite as much [most] days now that some of my kids are all grown up, but that mom guilt is still there. This might be my favorite line in your post:
    “There are a lot of “shoulds” in my head and I am changing them to “could.”‘ ❤️

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com June 30, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks Jamie!

  • Reply Rachel June 30, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    I was nodding my head at every single point in this post! I have two boys and like your kids, love to be read to, love audio books but don’t love to pick up a book and read if there are other choices like playing outside, playing with friends, playing sports, etc. But at times when there is nothing else to do (at night and in the car) the books always get picked up and are enjoyed. My kids are all over the neighborhood with friends all the time and now barely want to go anywhere unless we can “bring friends along”. I try and feel ok about just letting them do this in the summer rather than doing all these amazing educational homeschooly things knowing that really all the rest of the year they are stuck at home with me all day while everyone else is in school! And oh my word, my kids hate puzzles!!! But can I add to that guilt…why yes I can! Both my boys hate legos or any type of building thing. If it is already put together they will enjoy imagining with it but plop some legos in front of them and expect them to come up with some amazing original design. Forget it, they would rather just lay around and look at me, or wrestle. There is so much wrestling. So thank you so much for this post, for keeping it real and telling it like it is. You made my day! 🙂

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com July 6, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      And you made mine! I 100% get you! We “bring friends” everywhere now. EVERY. WHERE. And like you, I am just doing it for the summer because I know how much they need it. Of course, once school starts, I have to be DONE by 3:30/4:00 because the friends start knocking!

  • Reply Katie July 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    Love all of this! Always encouraging to know I’m not the only one.

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