Feeling Guilty About Not Feeling Guilty

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A few days ago, when the snow really started falling on the east coast, I saw a Tweet go by that got me thinking about my Mom Guilt again. The Tweet was tagged with #snowday and read something to the effect of: "my kids are why I work from home, they are not an interruption." Then, my mom said something to me that stung a bit. I told her I don't usually cook a big dinner on the days Tyler's sports end late in the evening. Her response? "But why not? You're home all day." Ouch.

See, I've been feeling guilty for wanting Tyler to go on vacation. By himself. Every year since he turned one he's spent time at my mom's house during Christmas break. Since my Gramma comes from St. Louis and stays with my mom for three months, it's killed two birds with one stone. The Gramma's get some one on one time with their baby, Tyler gets (even more) spoiled and Phil and I get to act like the couple we were before we became parents.
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When we asked Tyler if he wanted to go this year, he said no. I'll admit, my first thought was "how could he be so selfish!" I know, I know. He's only 8. He has no idea why his vacation is so important to his mom and dad. But my gut reaction, combined with that Tweet got me thinking about the idea that we should love being parents 100% of the time. Now that I'm a SAHM the pressure is even worse. It's my job to take care of my family. I should throw myself into it wholeheartedly and enjoy every minute of it, right?

Well, I don't. I love my kid with a fierceness that still surprises me. I love him so much it can be all consuming at times. I love him so much that, occasionally, there's not enough left for my husband, too (another thing I feel guilty about!). And that's my problem. Anything that takes up that much of a person's time, energy and focus is exhausting! I love being a mom. Specifically, I love being Tyler's mom. But every once in awhile I need a break. WE need a break.

Phil and I could really use the time to ourselves this year. We treat Tyler's time away as mini vacation for us too. There's stress that I can't write about just now and it's making me a bad mom and a bad wife. With Tyler gone, in addition to going to dinner somewhere with no kid's menu and watching R rated movies before 9:00, we have a few days to really talk and re-connect. And, maybe my mom and Gramama will crack the whip with eye rolling in a way I've been unsuccessful at so far. I'm sure Tyler could use a break from me, too.

I guess I can't call Tyler selfish without labeling myself the same. But is it selfish to want a break from the daily grind? Society tells me it is. But then there's also the idea that 'if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy.' And just to throw in another curve, couples who make time for each other have happier marriages. So which is it? Selflessly take care of my family, take care of myself or nurture my marriage?

I don't know why this is such a struggle for me; finding balance. I think because I don't earn a steady income, I feel like I have to bring something to the table and right now all I've got is my time. Time to cook, clean, do laundry, grocery shop, take Tyler to practice, etc. etc. I'm lucky to be an at home mom. I know that. I don't want to go back to work. At least, I don't think I do.

Anytime I feel guilty about something I know it more than likely stems from some insecurity or doubt about a decision I've made. But in this case, I don't feel guilty about wanting Tyler to go visit my mom. If anything, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty, if that makes sense. Don't get me wrong, I miss him when he's away, but the margarita at Happy Hour helps ease the pain.

So, yes, I admit it. I want my son to away for a few days. When he does, I'm going to make a conscious choice to enjoy it and the few evenings I'll spend with my husband. Alone. This does not make me a bad person. Nor does it make me a bad mom. In fact, think it makes me a better mom. Screw you, society.

*Tyler changed his mind and decided to go! Thank you, Little Brother!


  1. I don't enjoy being with my kids 100% of the time! Are you kidding? I don't like being away from them for a long time, either, but we moms definately need time to ourselves to re-energize. Don't feel guilty for not feeling guilty! My daughter get so excited to see me after I've been gone for the day, or, more rarely, for the night, that it makes it all worth it for her, too. Here's to your upcoming vacation, just you and your husband!

  2. Don't feel guilty! You're lucky! you can get some alone time. Everyone gets some special time, you with your spouse and Tyler with grandmas. It's a win-win, I think.

  3. I'll give you a resounding HEAR HEAR!! on this topic. IMHO you have ZERO reason to feel guilty. Balance is needed in all things, especially parenting :-)

  4. Great post. I think about this issue all the time, and you're really eloquent about it here. I'm with you--I need that time to reconnect with my husband.

  5. Society is way harsh on us moms. We're sort of damned if we do, damned if we don't! Do not feel guilty at all. I love my kids but if I was with them 100% of the time I'd go insane. And likewise if I was away from them for too long I'd miss them terribly. It's a constant balancing act, but you are doing just fine! ;-)

  6. Everyone who 'works' gets off at night, gets weekends off, and gets (at least) two weeks paid vacation a year. They'd better not say anything about a mom who would like a few days away from her 24 hour a day responsibilities.

    Everyone should have some free time.

  7. Everyone should get time off from their daily grind, even if their daily grind is the love of their lives. The same as with a job--time off to decompress can make you even more invested and involved when you're back from the break.

  8. I'm glad I'm not the only one with mom guilt and mine is just beginning! I feel guilty that I enjoy my workday away from him. I feel guilty when I'm doing ANYTHING that doesn't involve him. But then I'm jealous of my sitter, my husband, and anyone else who spends time with him. While I'm with him I think of everything else I should be doing and while I'm away I think about him. It's rough, but you're not alone.


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