Monday, September 29, 2014

There's Self Imposed Mommy Guilt and then there's Child Imposed Mommy Guilt

Mommy Guilt. Something probably every mom knows only too well. I'm well familiar with mommy guilt. I've dealt with it frequently over the past five and half years of motherhood. I've felt guilt for that lazy dinner of chicken nuggets or cereal. I've felt guilt for wanting to take the long way home so I could I use a few extra minutes of peace. I've felt guilt because I work, and someone else has always taken care of my kids for 6-9 hours a day five days a week. Scenario after scenario I've imposed guilt upon myself. No one in particular has ever accused me of being a bad mom because of what I fed my children for dinner on an exhausted night, because I took a moment for myself, or because I work outside the home. The guilt was coming from no one but myself.

I always thought that self imposed guilt made you feel bad enough, but today with a five year I came to the realization I'm about to embark on a lifetime of a whole new level of mom guilt. As I thought about my own relationship with my mother and mother in law I realized this nonsense of mom guilt doesn't end.

I met my kindergartener at the bus stop today. As she gets off she looks all sad and grumpy. I asked her if she fell asleep on the bus again, and she just mumbled something that I thought was acknowledging that she did. She did say she was sleepy. Kind of glad that she was tired, it made it easier to get her in the car to go home rather than drag her away from her friend she rides the bus with. Away from the sitter and her friend from the bus stop, came my first experience with this whole new type of mom guilt.

"Mommy?" she asks. "Why didn't you come to my fun run today?"

"I had to work, honey. I saw the email reminder about it, and if your class would have been the last group running I thought about skipping out early to make it since I don't have an afternoon class.  But I was still teaching my class when your class ran."

"But all the other mommies came, Mommy, I kept looking for you."

And bam. How do you respond to that? Now she's at an age where she can point out all the ways I disappoint her or let her down. Now she can tell me what other moms do and what I don't. Now she can have her own expectations of me that I don't fulfill.

So where do I start in dealing with this?  For today I just told her, "I'm sorry, Ave. You know Mommy rarely misses things you do, but there are going to be times when I can't make something because of work or when your sister gets older because you  both have something going on at the same time.  But every time I'm not there believe me I'm thinking about you and wishing I was there."

I thought back to my own childhood and even a few things that have popped up with students over the years. I also recalled two conversations I've had recently with my mother and mother in law. Lucky for me my parents rarely missed an activity or event. They missed a few here and there. A few do stick with me, but in the end I know they made everything they could. But I know from ten years of working with adolescents though that those missed moments can stick with them way more than we may realize.

Recently after two guilt ridden conversations with both mine and Nate's mother about if and when they may come visit this Fall, I left both conversations realizing "wow, mommy guilt even carries over into your children's adulthood" as it was so obvious they both battled their own tug of war of guilt on making the trip to see us this Fall amidst all the other things and obligations they each having going on in their own lives. I like to think we don't guilt them about making the trip to visit us and that as grown children we're better than my five year old at not making them feel worse than they already do from the self guilt trip they give themselves (course if they read this they may think otherwise, sorry, but it was a good example in helping me see this is something that doesn't necessarily end with age).

Just as our moms do they best can and often have to make choices between us and other things, this will not be the last time I find myself in this situation. Just as I'm learning to handle my own self imposed guilt, I guess over time I will also learn how to deal with the imposed guilt my children place on me. I'm just not sure I have the answer to that today.

Check out these recent posts

Life is Going...   (A look back at life the last month)

Holiday Shopping and Fundraising  (Check out the great products you can buy right here and with all profits going to help with a gift project this holiday season)

Check out my book:

Sales from my book, Moms, Monsters, Media & Margaritas, this month is going to the Families of SMA this month. The book examines how our 21st century digital world shapes our perceptions and expectations of our capabilities as mothers, wives, employers, and women. I talk about balance or the struggle of finding balance often in here. It will leave you with a humorous and inspirational look at the individual journey of motherhood that takes each of us from the girl we were to the woman we become. The book is also now available on the Amazon kindle for $3.99 and the Barnes and Noble Nook for $4.99. With the purchase of print and ebook books 20% of sales goes towards a children's charity for the The PACI Fund Project. This Fall donations are going to the Families of SMA charity.



  1. Love, love, love this post. My kids aren't near that age yet (2 and 9 months), but I know there's no way to prepare for it. Good job handling it thought! You did great.

    Thanks for sharing at the SHINE blog hop.

  2. Ahh, yes, the mommy guilt. We all battle with it don't we.

    I love this. I think you handled this situation well too!

    Thanks for sharing and linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

  3. Haha! So true. My kids are forever making me feel guilty. There's no way to please them in everything and meet all their expectations, but knowing that doesn't stop that surge of guilt! I really think it is one of those things that never ends! #mommymoments