“I know I am not alone in this. I also understand that older, wiser people will say “revel in the time that you have with your children when they are little and the sweet quiet moments you have with your husband”. But that is something said with hindsight behind them. I currently have all the guilt; mom guilt, wife guilt, dog parent guilt, employee guilt, daughter guilt, dusty house guilt, taking up all of the empty space in my brain.”—Annie Carroll Maffeo
Working Through Motherhood
By Annie Carroll Maffeo
BATAVIA Illinois—(Weekly Hubris)—February 2019—Guilt.
Guilt is heavy when you are a mom.
And I am feeling it intensely these days.
Here is a quick list of what I have felt guilt about in the last few days, in no particular order:
- Not spending enough time with my son Ben.
- Working too much.
- Not having a clean enough house.
- Not putting together that stupid IKEA table I bought for him like two months ago.
- Not having lost all the baby weight.
- Not dedicating myself enough to work.
- Not being a good enough friend.
- Not being a good wife.
- Not taking the laundry upstairs.
- Not giving our dogs enough attention.
- Not organizing our closets.
- Not working out enough.
- Not eating well.
- Getting a migraine.
As I said, the guilt is heavy.
I have found that, in the last year or so, all the things I thought I could balance, I cannot.
For example, I feel this immense mixture of guilt and contentment when I see my friends going out for a night on the town. I make a conscious decision to stay in so I may spend time with my family. I travel for work and, every time I leave, I count the days until I get home to my son. I have done the math and figured I miss about two months of Ben’s life every year due to my travel. Not a ton, but enough that it makes the time I do have with him incredibly precious. It makes it so that, when I am home, I want to imprint on him. I am his person. But that means that I miss my friends sometimes. And then in turn, I feel guilty for not being as good a friend as I used to be.
Or when the day is ending, and Ben is asleep, I take a look at the very real dust collecting on the floors under the bookshelf in our living room and think I should dust and clean. Then I think of the time I haven’t spent with my husband. That sitting in our family room and talking to him is far more valuable in the long run.
Each day is this struggle. What will I have time to accomplish today? Will I have the fortitude to organize our bills (no) or the motivation to finish folding the whites (always no, poor lonely athletic socks sitting in our dryer for days on end).
I know I am not alone in this. I also understand that older, wiser people will say “revel in the time that you have with your children when they are little and the sweet quiet moments you have with your husband.” But that is something said with the benefit of hindsight. Currently, I just have all the guilt; mom guilt, wife guilt, dog parent guilt, employee guilt, daughter guilt, and dusty house guilt, taking up all of the empty space in my brain. Coming from a long line of Irish Catholics, I do not see this subsiding any time soon.
For now, I guess I will try to shake it off when I can. Force as many snuggles on my son as possible (poor kid), and enjoy that glass of wine with my husband. In the meantime, if anyone comes by and wants to check the dryer for the whites and has the inclination to fold clothes, please, feel free.
PS: I will let you know if the IKEA table ever gets put together.