Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mom Guilt

When I was preparing to become a mother there was a topic that all other mothers neglected to mention – Mom Guilt. There are several levels of Mom Guilt that one can experience and I am pretty sure that I am on at least one level at some point of any given day.
The first type of Mom Guilt is the Working Mom Guilt. Currently, it is in the best interest of our family that we be a two income family. I was so fortunate to get to spend the better half of 6 months being a stay at home mom, knowing that it was only temporary. Now, my son is just another kid in daycare – and that KILLS me. I would give anything to spend my days going to MOPS meetings and play dates with all my other stay at home friends (okay, currently I have no stay at home friends but I’m sure that if I was staying home they would just flock to me…). We would go to the zoo and go to the park and when it was cold we would do laps around the mall and window shop (sure, we’d do that when it was warm too, and there would probably be actual shopping involved regardless of the weather). But instead I drop my son off at 7:30 a.m. and we go our separate ways until I can swoop in and rescue him at 5:30 p.m. I spend maybe two hours with him a night before he goes to bed and then we do it all again the next day. I just know he’s going to crawl for her before he does for me and first steps? If it happens, I don’t want to know. I want first steps to be for mommy and daddy.
I thought that the idea of being a Work at Home Mom would be a good idea, but that’s a joke. I feel even more neglectful when I actually see that smiling face looking back at me and instead of tickling him or cuddling him, I have to look away and answer an email or repair a spreadsheet. Work at home? No thanks.
A few weeks ago I HAD to go into work on morning even though he was home from daycare sick. I cried the whole way to work. It wasn’t fair. I should be there rocking him and making him better but that particular morning I just couldn’t call in. I would only work for a few hours and then be home to get him but it was still so hard. The guilt was too much. That’s a Working Mother’s Burden…Working Mom Guilt.
The second type of Mom Guilt is the kind that we allow other mothers to put upon us. This is the “Bad Mom” Guilt. I have chosen to vaccinate my son, have him circumcised, have let him use a walker and have actually left my son OVERNIGHT in the care of another human being (a few times, actually). These are all things that some mothers would find to be unforgivable. To them I have mutilated my son, increased his risks of becoming autistic, put him in eminent danger and have just shown that my son is not my number one priority and that I obviously love him less than a mother who “just can’t leave her baby.” The sad part is, I actually let other women’s opinions bother me. The truth is that all mothers JUDGE. It’s so hard to just sit back and say “I’ll raise my child the way I want to and you raise your child the way you want to and as long as no one gets hurt, we’re both doing a good job”. As mothers we worry so much about doing a good job. Those that choose to tell me that they could NEVER do the horrible things to their child that I have done to mine only make me worry more. Thanks for all the “Bad Mom” Guilt.
The last kind of guilt is the guilt that is pretty all encompassing for me. It’s a combination of Working Mom Guilt and “Bad Mom” Guilt. It’s the guilt that I have with every decision that I make as a mother. Was it the right one? I’m guilty of letting Hunto was Wheel of Fortune. I am guilty of letting him sleep in my bed when I’m too tired to put him back in his after a feeding. I am guilty of not trusting my own instincts. I am guilty of crying at work when I think about how badly I would rather be home with my boy. I am guilty of letting women that I have never met make me feel guilty about the way that I choose to raise my son. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
But, most days, most of the time, all of the guilt that I feel is suppressed by the strange sense of calm that I have from my true faith that I AM a good mother. I DO know what is best for MY son. Hunter will grow and thrive at the hands of his father and me. He loves us unconditionally, just as we love him. And when it all comes down to it…that’s all that really matters.