How many of you have mom guilt? That feeling that we are failing our kids somehow. Social media doesn't help, when there is a constant barrage of moms taking Pinterest perfect pictures on the first day of school with the impeccably crafted signs, or the custom done birthday cakes and elaborate family vacations. It's easy to get bogged down and start to question whether or not you are parenting enough for your kids to feel loved. It's easy to question your decisions to stay home or work, organic or not, breastfeed or bottle... the list goes on.
my house could always be cleaner, I could do better with dishes and laundry. I could yell less, I could play more... there are a million things that I know I could improve on. Some days I feel like the biggest failure. I feel like I have failed my children and myself in this whole momming thing.
I've always thought that giving my kids a 'better life' was the most important thing. We sacrificed time with our daughter when she was younger to live in the nicest areas, the better schools, the bigger home ... she never seemed satisfied. I thought that it was because she was just being bratty. I truly worried that we were raising a spoiled child but we thought it was providing the best for her. The super expensive doll house, because I had wanted it as a child and my parents couldn't afford it, or the new clothes multiple times a year because we shopped at Kmart and had to just deal with what we got. When she was in 4th grade I asked her why she never invited her friends over and her response broke my heart, "our house is too small and so-and-so has a huge house and yard". We owned our townhouse because it was what we could comfortably afford, it was almost 2000 SF and larger than any place I lived as a child but it was embarrassing to her. We lived in Orange County, Ca and lets be honest, nothing is cheap there. Even bringing in 6 figures a year didn't seem like enough.
My husband and I worked full time, she was in daycare from 7 am to 6pm daily. All to provide for her but she didn't appreciate it in my eyes. This caused a lot of struggle between us. By the time I picked her up from daycare and got home to do homework and dinner, she was over it and we fought nightly. Those few hours every night were spent fussing and arguing, I hated it. I disliked every aspect of parenting at that point, it was a mad dash from daycare pickup to bed time. I didn't get to have those sweet moments of reading to her nightly, snuggling in bed or breakfast together. It was argue through homework, timeout for a quickly thrown together dinner and then more arguing over homework and then sheer, frustrated exhaustion getting into bed. I knew something had to give or I would go crazy.
When my husband deployed in 2013, I quit my job and spent the next 18 months as a stay at home mom. This was not sustainable long term living in California, this was a short term plan and I knew it. But I also knew something had to change... in 2014 we made the decision to leave California and move to Tennessee with the plan that I would stay home with her. I would be the mom that made fresh juice, homemade cookies and volunteer at her school. I was going to get rid of my mom guilt once and for all.
Well... upon moving and her starting school I realized that stay at home wasn't an option for my heart or brain so I sought out a part time job, one that allowed me to be home when she was. I had realized that she and I got along a lot better when I saw that giving her stuff was not what her little heart craved, it was my attention. Homework became less contentious and I enjoyed being a mom again... I enjoyed being around her.
Fast forward to 2016 when we adopted our son and I stayed home for the summer with the kids. Being their mom was what we both needed. We live in a beautiful home in an amazing area but we sacrifice to be able to keep this schedule with me working part time. My husband has to work hard, he has long hours and often travels for work but we see the benefits. I have had the benefit of having the last 2 summers off with them, yes, money is tight in the summers without my income but we make it work. I will never get the time back that I lost with her nor can I make up for it in other ways however I hope that they can see that we try as parents every day.
Mom guilt is no joke. We never know what the best option is for our kids or our family. There is no manual that gives us a trouble shooting guideline for parenting. I understand the sacrifices that my parents made for us ... we didn't have the best toys, live in the biggest houses or go on elaborate family trips to the Caribbean for spring break but what we did have was each other. This summer while driving cross country I realized that these are years I will never get back, these are the moments that will hopefully come to my children as they grow into adulthood as happy moments. Going forward I will make more mistakes, probably feel the pain of mom guilt more than I care to admit but I will hopefully hold onto this frame of reference, knowing that I am doing the best for them that I can. Knowing that our family is our priority and hopefully impressing this on our kids will help but I can only imagine they will be no different than we were as kids ... not seeing the full picture until they are adults. So if you’re working mom, I stay at home mom, have chosen to school lunches over packed lunches, don’t let anyone allow you to question how much you love your children and how you’re doing the best for them.