One of the things I wasn’t prepared for when the boys arrived was Mommy Guilt. Captial M. Capital G.
Before becoming pregnant, I pretty much only had to worry about myself. Oh sure, I worried about my husband to some extent as well, but I learned pretty quickly that he was much happier when I left him to his own devices.
Then pregnancy. It wasn’t until about five months in when the reality hit that there were two human beings living inside my body. And those two human beings would very soon be outside and in the world and would need my care and attention.
Still, until they arrived, I had no idea of the true magnitude of care and attention they would require. Those people who try to give you well-meaning advice while you’re pregnant usually like to say something like, “Enjoy your time now! Your life will never be the same!” Yeah, yeah, yeah – I remember thinking. I’m ready. Bring it on.
Then our boys arrived and true reality hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved every moment of it, don’t get me wrong – but there is no break.
A good friend of mine, watching our boys crawl over, under, around and through a Mexican restaurant booth where we four adults were trying to enjoy a meal remarked, “This doesn’t look so hard.” I smiled and said, “It’s not hard – it’s just constant.”
And that’s where the Mommy Guilt comes in. I love my boys dearly. I love being with them. I would do ANYTHING for them. But Mommy has got to have a break. So I take breaks. I have my own interests. I work a full-time corporate job and have my own business on the side. I have my craft projects. And my favorite time of day is after boys and husband are asleep and I have a quiet house all to myself. I know that these alone times are the keys to my sanity.
So why do I feel Guilty? Guilty that I need this time away? I guess I feel like I shouldn’t NEED time away. I should want to spend every waking moment with them. And yet, I don’t.
In talking with my other mommy friends, it’s a common theme. We all have seen the stereotype of “mother” played out again and again as we were growing up. And as children, whether our moms stayed at home or worked, the result was the same – children see their mothers as just that, a mom only. It’s only later, when you become a mom, that you see that your own mother was probably driven nuts by you and needed alone time as well. Maybe she got it or maybe she didn’t, but odds are, as a child, you didn’t notice.
The lesson in all of this, for me, is that I don’t need to have Mommy Guilt about needing time away from my kids. It makes me a better mom, more appreciative of the time we do have together. And that’s the best thing I can give to my boys – attention and love, full-focused on them when we are together. (Although if you ask my boys – the best thing I can give them is fruit snacks.)