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.
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?
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.
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.