Wednesday 3/23/16: My Guilt Schedule
(Reader’s note: This is one morning in my life. There are many mornings with much less stress and guilt….like Sundays….but this day makes for a good blog post so I’m going with it)
I walk in the door after working an 11-hour night shift at my job as a 911 dispatcher. Per usual, the second I walk in the front door (directly adjacent to my 1-year-old’s bedroom) I drop my Tervis. I cringe, don’t move for approximately 4 minutes while the front door remains open, close my eyes and pray I haven’t woken him up. I feel guilty.
After putting my purse down, taking my shoes off, and tiptoeing down the hallway to my bedroom, I crawl into bed about 5 minutes before my husband’s alarm goes off. He stirs and rolls over, simultaneously making the poor dog and cat reposition and adjust. When the 4 of us have found comfortable placement in the king size bed, my husband’s alarm goes off. I disturbed the last 5 minutes of his sleep. I feel guilty. (**Most days** some days I try to purposely jostle them all around feeling resentment for the fact that they have all been asleep for the last 6 hours while I was at work…which also, much later, makes me feel guilty)
Mason stands in his crib, throwing stuffed animals and pacifiers (yes he still has them—Guilt!). He repeats, “Mama, Mama, Mama” until I reply back from my bedroom “Mason, Mason” or actually enter his room and say “Good Morning baby man.” Exhausted, I pick him up, give him a kiss, ask him how he slept, change his diaper, and put him down so he can say his “good mornings” to the cat and dog. He follows me into the kitchen, where I can’t find a clean cup to give him milk. (Guilt!) He reaches his hands up, asking his 6-month-pregnant mother to pick up his 32-lb self. I tell him, “Mommy can’t pick you up right now.” I feel guilty. After I wash a cup, we hold hands and walk into the living room to watch his choice of Dora the Explorer or Mickey Mouse Club. (GUILT!) Maybe 2 episodes (Guilt Guilt!)
My husband flies into the kitchen to turn on the Keurig, grab his lunch (that is sometimes not made from the night before…because I forgot…Guilt!) and say goodbye and “I love you” to us. I feel guilty that I barely saw him yesterday, or this morning, and I know tonight I will see him a whole 90 minutes before I head back to work.
After Mason’s morning “show/s,” I ask him what he wants for breakfast. He usually says cookies or pizza (Guilt!) He truly does like everything. Most mornings I “intend” to scramble eggs with spinach and a side of blueberries (ha!), but today, like most others, he gets a handful of cheerios and a pouch of smashed fruit. I feel guilty. Actually, the fruit pouch gets consumed on the way to daycare in the car. (Eating in the car—Guilt! Daycare—Guilt!)
Side note—I’m not quite sure what parents did before these pouch things. I really can’t imagine my life without these mixed fruit and veggie pouches.
There is usually some sort of tantrum or explosion over getting dressed. Today it was because he didn’t want to wear his black shoes (sneakers). He wanted to wear his blue shoes (sandals). He kicked his feet and ripped his socks off, crying out “blue shoes, blue shoes!” And I think to myself….Please don’t do this today. Please stop. Why can’t he just wear the blue shoes, anyways? Why do I care? Do I give in now and let him wear the blue shoes? (Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!)
We drive to daycare while I try and make positive conversation with my 1-year-old in the backseat. I feel guilty for not seeing him for the next 6 hours or reading him a book before 8 am (wow…just typing that out loud makes me sound irrational). I point out every fire truck, ambulance, garbage truck, motorcycle or dump truck on the way. I probably annoy the crap out of him. (Guilt!)
At drop off, I am always either in my work clothes from the night before, or my “Mom” attire. Mom attire includes some sort of work out pants that are probably from pre-pregnancy and ill-fitting, along with the same boring maternity shirt or zip-up jacket to cover the hideous pants. (Guilt!) I don’t think my son’s ‘teachers’ even know what my hair looks like when it’s done, and they’ve definitely never seen me with make up.
One day I want to bring them in a picture of me on my wedding day and say, “See! I didn’t always look like this!!” (Guilt!)
I watch Mason excitedly run down the hallway, holding the door for me, the other kids and their parents, and run into his ‘classroom’ to play with…you guessed it…trucks. I give him a hug and a kiss and tell him I will see him after lunch, and most days, he says, “Ok Mama!” and he blows me a kiss or gives me a big hug and waves ‘bye.’ While leaving him has gotten easier, especially when I see how much he enjoys it, I still feel guilty. So guilty.
(On this day specifically, I forgot it was ice cream truck day, and I didn’t have the $4 for my son to get ice cream. My son will have to watch 12 other peers eat ice cream today while he eats peanut butter crackers. GUILT GUILT GUILT)
I get straight to bed. I text my husband, “Goodnight, I love you, I’m sorry I forgot your lunch.” And he says “Goodnight, beautiful. It’s ok I wanted Chik Fil A anyways. I love you.” I laugh to myself, and I fall right asleep.
I wake up at 9:30 am, 11:00am and for good at 12:30 pm, all in a state of panic. I’m always afraid I slept “all day”.
The rational me says, Traci, You are supposed to sleep all day. You work at night.
The Guilty Mom in me says, Mason was at daycare yesterday. He shouldn’t go 2 days in a row. You forgot ice cream day. You better take chicken out for dinner and make sure there’s some vegetables to eat. You need to walk this poor dog that hasn’t been outside since yesterday. You need to unload the dishwasher. You need to vacuum- there’s dog hair literally everywhere. You need to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. You need to send a “Thank You” card to Holly for Mason’s gift. You need to set a phone reminder to remember to pay Bank of America. You need to ask Mom or Ashley to watch Mason next weekend so you can go to a wedding. You need to schedule your next doctor appointment…because oh, yeah…you’re pregnant by the way! And because of this, you need to get some damn khaki pants that fit!!
I am still fighting the balance battle.
I don’t think it’s one that can ever be won.
I think there will be phases where I’m better at it than others….Phases where I feel more and less guilty throughout motherhood. I will never be the perfect Mom. I will never be the perfect employee. I will never be the perfect wife. I will never be the perfect daughter or sister or friend. But for some reason I always feel pressure to.
I remember back in Grad school for Counseling we learned several techniques to assist clients with anxiety. I believe these techniques, these ‘reality check ins,’ could easily apply to mothers experiencing the Mom Guilt.
When a feeling of guilt arises, I can evaluate if the thought is rational or irrational, choose to pick the rational option, and move forward.
Irrational: I feel guilty that I am not a stay-at-home-Mom.
Rational: I love my job and the purpose I feel doing it. I love my co-workers and the adult conversation. When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I was not fulfilled.
New thought: I will not feel guilty for working!
Irrational: I feel guilty that sometimes I want to spend time alone, or do something for me, like get a pedicure, go to Target, or go to the movies.
Rational: Getting pedicures, shopping and going to the movies are all positive, effective ways to relieve stress and fill myself up. I need to do things like this so I’m not a raging lunatic and drive others away from me.
New thought: I think I’m going to get a pedicure tomorrow.
Irrational: I feel guilty that Mason goes to daycare.
Rational: Mason love daycare. Mason loves seeing other kids. Mason loves the daily activities that daycare provides, like reading, singing, dancing, playing outside and doing arts and crafts. In reality, daycare does a WAY better job of helping him learn and grow socially than I could do on my own. And also, I pay for it, so I should use it.
New thought: Mason is well-balanced because he gets the opportunity to be around Brian, me, his grandparents and everyone at daycare. I won’t feel guilty that I take my son to daycare.
Irrational: I feel guilty that I don’t cook dinner every night.
Rational: Let’s be real Traci, I don’t think any household in America cooks healthy dinners every night. Brian, Mason and I all look forward to Taco Tuesdays at Tijuana Flats.
New thought: I will not feel guilty about Taco Tuesdays.
I’m sure baby number 2 will add new ways for me to feel Mom Guilt. How will I spread my love and time between 2 children? How will I feel about not having the same quality time with Mason that I get now? How will I maintain what few, solid relationships I have right now?
I’m not sure yet.
But I will start by not feeling guilty about tacos. 🙂