Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guilt Will Always Be There-Let Love Triumph!

“Stay at home or work.  It really doesn’t matter what you do…you’ll find a way to feel guilty about something either way. You just have to do what feels right to you and what works best for your family,” explains a very wise and dear friend of mine.  As we chat on the phone, I am staring out at the Space Needle from my luxurious, very quiet (aaah, I remember quiet) hotel room rubbing my almost-eight-months-pregnant belly. 
At the time, I wanted nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom.  It had been my dream, even after ten years of exciting business trips and extravagant meals at the best restaurants across the country.  But there didn’t seem to be a practical way to make it work with one salary and two mortgages (we were living in Maryland and still owned our home in South Carolina).  Yet, it made me feel better simply by hearing my old friend, a college sorority sister who I’ve always respected and seems to do motherhood seamlessly as a successful working mom, tell me that all moms feel guilty about something, some of the time. 
Three years later.  I know this to be true.  No matter what you try to do right for your family or your children (or yourself); guilt will sneak its way in.  These are just some of the ways guilty mom syndrome kicks in…
The Working Mom
Her early morning thoughts: Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever! I’m going to work hard today to teach my kids how successful you can be in life; while also making money so we can have what we need to succeed in life, and hey, even a Disney Vacation or two.
Her guilt: I should be home with my kids doing crafts, flipping through sight words index cards, making them a healthy, home-cooked lunch and kissing them at naptime.
The Stay-At-Home Mom
Her early morning thoughts: Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever! I’m going to spend so much one-on-one time with my children today and give them love and affection, teach them about the world, and make a craft out of fall leaves and paint.  We’ll run around the house using our imagination, laughing the day away.  I will make them a healthy, home-cooked lunch before I kiss them at naptime.
Her guilt: I don’t have time to cook these kids a healthy, home-cooked lunch…there are toys all over this place, paint all over the table and chairs, and I can’t even get them to sit still for one minute to do our flash cards.  What if I’m playing with them too much and they won’t learn how to play independently?  I feel so guilty for wanting it to be naptime! 
The Work-At-Home Mom
Her early morning thoughts: Today, I’m going to be the best mom ever!  I’m going to balance playing with my kiddos and working on my business plan.  I’ll take some time to prepare a healthy, home-cooked lunch and snuggle with them before their two-hour nap. After naptime, we’ll
Her guilt: I just spent thirty minutes playing doctor and being locked up in jail.  I painted with them earlier today.  We’re going to the playground after naptime.  Yet I feel bad when I do steal a few minutes to get on my laptop.  Sometimes I can get up to 15 minutes, the rest of the time I feel like I’m neglecting them since I’m not playing with them 24/7.  They’d be happier in preschool, learning and playing with other kids.  The day is ticking by and if I want to get any work done, we’ll have to settle for Spaghetti Os, a cheese stick and green beans.  I guess I can get some work done during naptime and there is always after bedtime.
So there it is moms; guilt in its finest.  You can try to do the right thing and be the best mom ever, but there is always a flip-side of the picture.  You’re either doing too much or too little. 
As Trina and I try to balance our family lives and our working lives with following our dreams to write and build our business, we are faced with guilt in every turn.  In fact, don’t be surprised to see us write about this very subject many times (see Trina’s post: Working Mommies, Let Go of the Guilt). We deal with this every day.  We know that the time, effort and long nights we put into our passion will eventually pay off.  But the guilt is a struggle.
What we have figured out is let the simple, beautiful moments-the ones that really matter-slay the guilt. When your child walks into the room and they can see the sparkle in your eyes that you’re truly happy to see them; with each meal shared with them; the attention you give them when they’re holding that invisible microphone and shaking their groove thing for their favorite audience; when they can feel your love as you hold them tight at night reading them their last bedtime story; with each kiss and I love you whispered in their ear.
Guilt will always be there…let love triumph!
How have you experienced guilt as a mommy?  Please share...knowing other moms feel this way can make us all feel just that much better!