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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mommy Guilt Revisited: Slightly serious with a dash of humor

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the tremendous guilt I felt after Gavin was born with a birth defect, and how I eventually spent a lot of time working to somehow compensate for that.  At the time, I felt like a terrible mom.  I told myself that I had put my own goals and needs before those of my child and my family.  I was really hard on myself about not being to do all of the "mom things" I thought I should be doing with him because I didn't have the time or the energy.  Well, I'm rethinking all of that now. 

You see, part of the problem is that for most of my life, I've let the thoughts, opinions, and criticisms of others affect me more than they should.  It's something I've gotten much better with, but it's still a battle at times.  Directly or indirectly, others made me feel that the time I spent focusing on advancing my career was selfish - that I was only concerned about me.  And, I allowed people to shape my opinion of myself.  I felt selfish.  I felt that I had let my son down.  But, the truth is, I wasn't being entirely selfish, and I did what I did for my son regardless of what anyone else chooses to believe.

I knew I wanted to get a job at a community college so that I could have a more flexible schedule and earn a better living.  A more flexible schedule would finally give me more time to spend with my kids.  Better pay would allow me to provide them with more experiences.  I didn't want to make money just to make money.  I wanted to make money so I could take them on trips to Disney World, so maybe one day I could buy a small cottage up north where we could spend our summers making memories, and so I could afford things like a boat that would provide for hours of entertainment and wonderful childhood recollections for my kids.

I'm not saying I did it in the best way possible.  I'm not saying I wasn't stressed and cranky - believe me, I was.

But, you know what?  All of my hard work finally paid off.  All those years of working three jobs, not turning down the opportunity to teach night courses even though I was exhausted and tired, taking classes to advance my education - all of that ended up getting me where I am today.  Today, when I have an entire extra month of summer vacation.  A whole month that, this year, will be devoted to giving Gavin a lot of attention before his brother arrives in a few short weeks.  Today, where I have a job that allows me to only work four days a week without sacrificing any pay - an entire extra day I get to spend with my kids every single week.  People say, "Oh, it must be nice."  And, it is.  It is nice, and I worked my ass off to get here, and I made a lot of sacrifices. I get to reap the benefits now.

Now, I finally have the time to do all those "mom things" I felt guilty for not having time to do before.  I have time to create a whole alphabet out of animals with Gavin.  I have time to make turtles out of bread, to take him to the baseball field and hit "home runs," to make rockets out of left over cardboard, and to go on adventures with him.  And that's all I ever wanted.  That's been my goal from day one.

I'm not trying to be super mom, I'm not trying to be perfect, - lord knows I'm chalk full of flaws and I embrace them now - and I'm definitely not trying to make other moms feel bad or guilty.  I'm simply enjoying this time I have with my kids - this time I have because I worked incredibly hard to earn it.

And the guilt?  The guilt has dissipated.  I know now that I am doing what makes me and my son happy, and no other opinion matters.  I now know that my efforts weren't futile or selfish or completely misguided.  I feel like I'm doing a good job as a mom, and no one - not even the ever judgmental societal beliefs - can convince me otherwise.

On a lighter note, I'm worried that spending ALL this quality time with Gavin is going to backfire on me once the baby gets here.  Why?  Because now the kid is stuck to me like glue.  The other day, I took him to my office - where he's been dying to go.  I let him help me make copies and put things in binders.  We played with math things, and we walked around campus.  Then, we had a picnic and went to the zoo.  After that, we did alphabet animals and had a "dinner date."  Somehow, even after all of that, he hadn't had enough of my attention.  When we finally got home, I went to use the bathroom, and rather than playing with his toys or watching television, he laid outside of the bathroom door and talked to me.  And, I thought, "This can't be normal.  We must have some healthy attachment."  I guess we'll find out in ten years if he has a "mommy complex" or not. read to be read at


  1. Good for you! You are damn right that you deserve this, that it IS nice, and that you will bask in the glory of it without any guilt. That's what you owe yourself and your children, and that's what makes you all happy in the end. Congrats on the new job, the new baby, and the new, guilt-free perspective!

  2. I think you are super mom =p ... I stayed at home ... until the divorce ... and now I am where you were years ago ... working, going to school ... when I'm home with my kids I'm exhausted, but I did work my schedule so I can be there from after school until bedtime ... but I am also doing it FOR them ... for my little family ... for the hope of a nicer place to live, vacations, college ... it will take two and a half more years of school, but then life should start getting easier ... better ... and in the end I will have more time for them .. LOVE this post ...

  3. I'm completely impressed by the animal letters and the turtle bread. I think you may have a touch of super mom, whether you think so or not. :)

  4. It sure sounds like you deserve this opportunity! You've worked so hard!
    And congratulations on your impending delivery!
    What an exciting time. :-)

  5. I'm so glad you acknowledge the hard work that got you the advantages you are enjoying now. I've explained my choices regarding spending and working extra jobs while my friends bought expensive toys and clothing for themselves. It's partly luck - but it's also a lot of solid choices and hard work!

    So congrats and ENJOY! And I wish I could get the energy to make those cool turtle bread things. Very cool!