Friday, March 23, 2012

Mom Guilt

The other day I had a choice to make, go see K-boy and M-girl's play again, or stay home and attend to some much needed chores while spending time with D-boy. Granted I was exhausted so the choice seemed harder than usual. To me though, it just illustrated what I and most other moms struggle with on a daily basis - mom guilt.

My hubby doesn't understand this, or necessarily believe that it is a problem so rampant among mothers. A quick survey of my friends however, revealed him to be wrong. Moms, rightly or wrongly, suffer from frequent feelings that they're letting their children or family down in some way. Our homes are never clean enough, our children never given enough, we never contribute enough....the list goes on endlessly.

Now I'm a reasonable woman. I know full well that it's a ridiculous waste of time to lament things over which I have no control. I can't be in two places at one time, no one can. Every day I try my best to balance the many tasks involved in being who I am: a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and teacher. There's too much, and yet there is nothing that I could or would give up. I love my life and the people that share it with me.

Come to think of it, maybe that's part of the problem. We moms care so much. Our biggest job whether we work outside the home or in it, is raising the generation of the future. It can be hard to let go and accept that if we ourselves don't do everything, our world won't come crashing down.

For some reason, fathers don't seem to suffer from the same feelings of unwarranted guilt. They can love their families wholeheartedly, and still go off to the office (or gym, or ballgame) without a second thought. In my unscientific opinion that must be a legacy from our ancient ancestors. The men went hunting to provide for their families, and the women stayed behind to care for the home and children. Life in this modern world of ours is not nearly so simple.

I ended up staying home the other day. I got a few necessary tasks done (all benefiting my family in some way), and spent some time playing with D-boy. It was a lovely time really. A part of me was still yearning to be sitting in the audience of K-boy and M-girl's play. Later when I arrived to pick them up, I apologized again for not being there. Their response? "Well Mom, we were scarred for life." I know they were, I know.


  1. Patricia,

    From my experience you definitely touch on some sort of elemental truth, because my wife feels a lot like you throughout the day.

    There is always too much to do, no matter who you are, so prioritization is essential, but beyond that it does not seem there is a convenient solution.

    I am not sure I agree with you on the father piece. Days when I need to work late or travel I realize that my family is being deprived of time with me, and vice versa.

    I can rationalize this by thinking that my efforts are making all of their lives easier and I am caring for them in a similar way to the hunters you mentioned, but there always is a lingering feeling that there is a special part of life that I have given up to achieve it.

    If it's any help, we all earn scars in our life, and we all learn to survive and adapt our way through them or in spite of them.

    Thanks for a thought provoking and well written post!

    1. David, thanks for your comments. I did not mean to imply that fathers care any less than mothers do, only that they often are better able to compartmentalize the different aspects of their lives.

      I know that my family could not live the lifestyle that we do without the full support of my husband.In fact, he is usually the one who talks me out of feeling guilty over every little thing.

      I suspect from your comments that you and your wife are both very involved parents. You are right in saying that we all earn scars, but with a strong family behind them, our children will be able to grow stronger in spite of them.

      Oh, and although my husband has trouble admitting it even he feels guilty sometimes.