Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Guilt

Can I be real here?  I hesitate because it seems that whenever I am real I get some really negative feedback.  As though my frustrations are not okay to talk about.  But people, sometimes a girl just has to talk regardless of the bad vibes she might get in return. And you can bet that I have hesitated about hitting the publish button.  And maybe I have saved this in draft multiple times.  And maybe I have considered sleeping on it.  But if you are reading this...well then...looks like my impulse won.

So, here goes...

Today I am upset.  I am upset because I am not a stay-at-home Mom.  I am upset because I don't have a choice.  I am upset because so many DO have a choice or an opportunity to stay at home with your children and it is.not.fair.  And I am especially upset when I am told that there is always a choice because well must not know me. 

I have recently heard that Mother's Day is often a day of guilt.  That surprised me, because all I could think about was the fact that I got a day off from the office and how awesome that was.  And that I could take a moment to hang out with my children and not feel guilty that I was always away from them every day. That it was the least guilty day in the whole year.

And then I heard from some stay-at-home mom's that they feel so inadequate and frustrated with the fact that they aren't a better Mother and doing a better job.  And I just want to shout, "but aren't you with them all day?  Don't you get to volunteer at their school and be there when they get home and have healthy snacks on the table and limit the television watching because you have other activities to occupy the afternoon?  How do you not know that you are AMAZING? How are you not patting yourself on the back for the dang good job you are doing?  How are you not feeling so so so grateful that you can just BE there and that it is enough?"

I tell myself over and over again how grateful I should feel for my job.  And there is no lying about that--I am very grateful.  So imagine my surprise when this pent up frustration surfaces. This agonizing feeling of jealousy.  For your life.  I want to shake it out of me desperately.  But sometimes I just...can't. I want what you have. 

It all happened this morning.

Due to some unseen forces of mortal life and consequences, my daughter missed her bus.  We had to drive into Seattle to drop my husband off at school and so she was going to be even more late.  To add more drama to this event I have been feeling awful-sick all weekend and the idea of heading into the office today feeling the way I do was achy in and of itself.

So, after many many tears about the fact that she will not be awarded a medal of non-lateness, I finally said, "would you still get it if you were just...sick? Would being...sick...count against you?"

My girl broke out in the biggest smile that I have seen since she told me about her crush. 

I made the decision to let her skip school. And the way I could let that happen was for ME to thankfully, actually be sick.

I had to be sick to make pancakes for my daughter and sit lazily watching Cake Boss.  I had to be sick and unable to go to work in order to feel the freedom of throwing life out the window if necessary.  I had to be sick to feel okay about being with my children.  I had to be sick to be a stay-at-home Mom.

I now hesitate writing even more because I feel the need to correct myself.  To make all SAHM's feel validated because they work hard, too and it is NOT all sunshine and rainbows.  I know that.  I have been there.  I hope to be there again.  In fact, I hope that by next year I will be crying over lack of sleep and sibling jealousy over a new baby and no time to myself (no--not an announcement.) I hope that I will be where you are.  Because your job is one of the hardest in the entire world.  It is self-less and exhausting and I want it.  I would pay to have it.  I would give every ounce of self-satisfaction in bringing home a pay check to be YOU. 

And so I leave this post a little less upset now that I have thoroughly vented.  And I hope that I have not offended because well, I don't know if I can handle negative feedback right now. And I hope that you realize how blessed you are.  And that there is more to life than questioning whether or not you are a good enough Mother.

Just know that you are.  That you are doing an amazing job.  And that well, you should never feel inadequate or that you are not reaching your full-mom-potential because you.are.there.  Being a mother is incredible and WE are doing a bang up job.

Say it over and over if you need to:

No guilt here.


Jocelyn Christensen said...

What a great post!

Lauren said...

Amen! I feel those feelings so often... And feel guilty much of the time. But life is what it is, sometimes you can be home, sometimes you have to work, and you just have to know you are the best mom you can be in your circumstances and trust that you are enough because if one thing is for sure, it's that you absolutely love your children more than anything. SAHM or not, that is one thing that will not change and will make all the difference in the world.

hannah said...

You know my I emailed them! Loved this post.

As a full time working mother, I completely relate to your emotions of guilt, anger, envy, etc.

Thank you for sharing.

Kendra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kendra said...

Love this post. Thanks for sharing. It's good to hear it from women that HAVE to work.

Pasion Family said...

This was insightful and needed to understand how working moms feel. Thank you for sharing!

Cherie said...

I'm so glad you could get it out!

I have to say that I am quite a bit older than you and I have seen many SAHM's and many working mom's and the "quality" of being a mom does not always matter which job you have.
I have seen some pretty lousy SAHM's - Mom's who did not use their time and the blessing that they had to be at home - in a few words they were ungrateful and selfish.
I have seen working mom's who could not be with their children during the day but used the time they did have wisely and were simply A.M.A.I.N.G mothers.
Now I get that you are talking about how you want to be home and that would be ideal for you - what I am telling you today, not knowing you, is that because you have that desire and you are a good mom, regardless of the fact that you have to work I know you are amazing with your kids!!
I hope your wish comes true soon!!

P.S. I think it rocks to let your kids stay home from school sometimes - You go!

sariqd said...

I just don't get why people think it's okay to give negative feedback. I mean, having an opinion is perfectly fine but when you're sharing to point fingers and make another feel guilty? Zip the lip.

With my first child, I worked full time. With my second - SAHM. Having done both, there are pros & cons to each situation. What works for one may not work for another so why bother judging? No point.

It's YOUR blog. Don't ever feel like you have to explain things.

Kelly McCaleb said...

I really needed this today. My jealousies are different than yours ( we live in a basement apt, car trouble, health probs) but the feelings ate the same. This post reminded me that's it's ok to just need to vent and feel crappy somedays, but also it reminded me of at least one major blessing that I am home. We each have different circumstances but all hard. We need to be mire supportive of each other. I think u have a right to be upset and let it out when you need to. You are doing something incredibly hard and selfless for the good of your family. Good days and bad, right?

Wendy said...

Thanks for the vent. And no one interrupted once to solve it for you. I just read and listened. :)

Best with your goals in the next, SAHM, and other dreams not stated here. I hope they are all realized.

Skipping school was always so much fun as a grade schooler and high schooler. (Schooler btw is not a real word apparently by spell check.)

jeana said...

I love this post. And I have felt this exact same way before. I hope your day to be home again comes soon.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Oh, Carrie, this was honest and real and beautiful!

My sister feels the same way (she teaches to put her husband through med school/residency) and she is counting down the days when she can finally be a SAHM to her four kiddos.

Stef said...

From one working Mormon mom to another, I feel your pain. It is tough. Tough, because it ISN'T ALWAYS a choice. There are those of us, who would stay home if we could, but we can' we work. And the Lord blesses us. But it is hard in our culture to not be a SAHM.
But you know, if we make the time we have with them, REALLY being with them, I think they know. Kids know. God lets them know. I tell myself that He understands my heart and my intentions and will strengthen my children.
Thanks for this post. It is nice knowing we're not alone.
(PS and I think it rocks that you and your daughter ditched together. Aweseome!)

Amy said...

You have every single right in the world to write and say what's in your heart and on your mind... even if some crazy people out there don't agree with you.
I, for one, TOTALLY agree with you and give you all the validation in the world.
Sometimes we're SAHM's. Sometimes we're not. Sometimes we're ok with it. Sometimes we're not. Point being, you love your kids to pieces and that's all that matters. You're a fabulous lady, a great mom and I think you're pretty neat.
None of us can escape envy. It's part of being human.
I'd tell you to "hang in there" or "cheer up" or "go eat some cookies and smile" but I don't know if any of that will make you feel better. Just know that all us bloggy buddies love ya. Vent away, babe.

heather said...

Good for you for hitting publish!

Also, one of the best memories I have with my mom is a day she called in sick and called me in sick because we stayed up the whole night watching Gone With the Wind. The next day we slept in and hung out together and its one of the only specific memories I have with my mom from my childhood & she was a SAHM for the first and longest part of my childhood.

Jenny P. said...

I'm glad you published too, Carrie. I wish, more than anything, that I had a magic wand and could give you exactly what you desire. I have so much respect for women that work when circumstances require it. I try so hard to remember that the opportunity to be at home with my children is not a burden, or a chore, but a blessed gift and I best not ever take it for granted. I'm totally wishing I could hug you right now...

Christina said...

I came across your blog last week during your series on mothering and I am loving it! And I agree- I cannot relate completely to your post, but we all have things that feel unfair. Our trials are unique to each of us, but can leave all of us with the same feelings of injustice. More charity and less judgement would help everyone feel so much better. Thank you for sharing your perspective and being brave enough to hit publish!

Sue said...

If you can't tell it like it is on your blog, where CAN you? And I think all of your points were well taken.

Made sense to me!


Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Healthy snacks? Limit their television?
Uhhh.................. :D

You're awesome.

Brandi Litchfield said...

I know it's a little different, but I've felt the same way being is school full time as a mom. I never really wanted to finish college, but The Lord had different plans for me. I'm still not sure why, but he did, and it's been good for me I think. But it sucks not being able to play with Cade without feeling guilty about not spending that time working on homework. That's just so backwards. Luckily, for me, it is ending soon. And I hope yours ends soon too.

jordan @ mean mommy academy said...

Alright girlfriend. I'm catching up on all my fav blogs (I've been bloggy MIA for the past 2 weeks) and I just read this. And all I have to say is that I heart you. Such a beautiful post, you said it so well. I've been privileged to be able to work from my home, and I count this as a blessing, because everything you mentioned was what goes through my head when I think of working outside of the home. YOU are amazing for being able to work outside the home.

And you're beautiful to boot. BONUS! ;)

Praying for the day you can become a full-time mommy again! Hope that day comes VERY soon... xoxo

Evelyn @ Hanging by a Silver Lining said...

I am a SAHM and I don't feel one bit of resentment towards you or this post. Just an aching and a wish that I could do more to help you be one too...if that so be your desire. I hope you get it and I hope you whine like the rest of us. It's quid prop quo don't you know?

Charlotte said...

I loved this post. I think you captured the mother guilt all of us suffer from, no matter our situation. Often all we can do is the best we can with what life is throwing at us.

Brian and Michelle said...

It's occurred to me that it doesn't matter whether we stay at home or work--we all want to be better moms! We all feel guilty about the part of motherhood that we feel is our weakest part (or at least what we perceive is our weakest). Thanks for the post, and good luck in the coming year!

Rebecca said...

bah Mother guilt is so irritating hey! hope you can last out the time til you don't have to get up for a job you don't wanna do

Christine said...

What a breath of fresh air...your post really reasonates with me as a Full time working mom. I am the primary breadwinner at home although my husband also works full time. It is so much guilt all around as at times I'm not focused on work and vice versa...I treasure the time I have with my girls but certainly feel rushed during the weeknights. I envy mom's who can take time to help at school etc as you mention. At my daughters school at least 2/3rds are SAHM and they can devote time. Unfortunately as a mom who has tried to get a bit involved at school it's like my help is NOT good enough with the other much judgement being a mom and although I know I shouldn't care I do feel inadequate and feel so much guilt for not attending daytime school functions. In fact if ever I do my daughter is shocked! Keep the posts coming. Thanks and keep your head up.

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