I love to guilt trip myself.
OK, so I actually DON’T love it. Unfortunately, this is one “skill” that I have perfected over the years. I constantly guilt trip myself over whether or not I am doing enough for my children, around the house, for my husband, for family, for friends, etc… You name whatever small thing you can think of and chances are that I have sweat over it on one occasion or another.
I don’t entirely know why I function this way but I have arrived at the conclusion that maybe it was always in my nature and has only been amplified since becoming a mom. I think it is perfectly natural for mom’s (even both parents) to periodically feel guilt over one thing or another. While what triggers this in each person is different, suffice it to say that it’s prevalent amongst parents, and it is daggone ANNOYING.
If there is one thing about guilt that I have learned it is this: we only end up guilt tripping our way out of enjoying the people and the things that we have.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. I haven’t learned how to quell this issue yet. In some ways, letting time pass and finding a rhythm in my life as a mom has at least allowed me to see that there will always be something to worry about. And though I have grown to accept that while there will always be something to fret about there won’t always be an abundance of time to make up for it.
There won’t always be time to enjoy my children at the park on a lazy summer afternoon. There won’t always be time to lay on my bed, reading “Goodnight Moon” to two sleepy-headed children. There won’t always be time to dance to Otis Redding in my living room with Rob once those same children have fallen asleep.
Are you constantly worrying yourself too much? In the end, you’re the only one that is shortchanged. Your worry and guilt, and my worry and guilt, won’t add up to anything tangible.
We have to learn to prioritize, to let go and to embrace where we are. Fortunately, I do have ONE method for doing so down-pat: humor coupled with honesty.
Because I had some extra time yesterday and because I can do what I want, I give you…
5 Things That Mom’s Should Not Feel Guilty About (humor included.)
1. Cleaning. Or rather, NOT cleaning.
Oh, yes. Cleaning. I hate that word. I am always happy with myself once I have accomplished SOMETHING throughout my day that I can actually SEE a noticeable difference in. Here comes the problem, though. It would be nice if those dishes always stayed clean in the cabinet and instead everyone just used their hands to eat…but that is probably not going to happen. Or when I finally get a washer and dryer empty of dirty clothes…and there is laundry to do the next day.
Believe me when I say that… “it” is always going to be there waiting for you. “It” meaning cleaning, errands, bills, tasks, etc. Those things will always be there…lurking. So sometimes, I recommend not hurrying to the “its” in your life. If you are feeling guilty about taking time to yourself during your kids’ nap time, or as I like to call it the ‘hours of sweet release,’ then remember this: if you ONLY take time to yourself when you don’t have anything to do, you will never have a reason to sit. EVER again.
You’ll get to whatever you need to get to when you can. Here is something else that I am going to remind you of: the sink and washing machine both have bottoms to them. So even though you might not ever been able to see the bottom of your sink or washer because it’s always full, just remember that simple fact. Kind of like in “Angels In The Outfield,” how even though they couldn’t see the angels, they were there? Yea, it’s kind of like that. You will see the bottoms of them again on a regular basis one day. For now, whatever.
2. Stealing some of your kids candy/treats.
I swipe some on Halloween. And Valentine’s Day. And birthdays. Yes, I take some of the donut that I bought especially for them at the store and steal bites while I’m “cutting it up.” And yea, I know that those Swedish Fish were a treat for my kid. But, here is where I get to play that whole, “I gave life to you” trump card and take some for myself.
Because, they’re little and they aren’t gonna know. Because, even if they do notice, it ain’t gonna kill them. One day, I will teach my children the benefits of taking a cut of the candy on Halloween night and watching “Hocus Pocus” on the sofa after their own children get in bed. I have to pass on my know-how SOMEHOW.
Warning: I suggest perfecting your method of having a good, “hmm, imagine that” face before you swipe any of your husbands stash of treats. This way you can be ready for his comment about how it looks like there are some Reese’s Cups missing. Hmmm, imagine that.
Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond said it best. “When I sigh, it’s like a release. I have to relieve some of the pressure because otherwise, I would EXPLODE.” It’s true. When I’m walking around my house after I finally get my children down for a nap and see the “damage” that has been done throughout the day, I sigh to myself. When my daughter throws a perfectly good roll of toilet paper into the bathtub that’s full of water, I put my head back and sigh. Whip your head and sigh sometimes. JUST DO IT.
4. Taking tons of pictures.
Besides being fun for you, having pictures is also EVIDENCE. Evidence of several things. One of which is to remind you that your children, who are growing up right before your eyes, were actually little at some point. I keep pretending that Jerry is still somewhat babyish, but this daydreaming stops when I see pictures of him when he was actually a baby. I am so glad that I have all of those pictures to enjoy. You will never be unhappy with having too many pictures. You’ll only ever pat yourself on the back for having enough brain power to remember to get pictures.
The other thing that this is photographic “evidence” of?? I can show my kids that yes, sometimes they looked out of the kitchen window while naked. I can show them that they had ridiculous bed head when they woke up in the morning. I can show them lots of different things to prove to them that they were loved, little and hysterical. And even better, I can turn the tables and terrorize THEM when they get older and plan to enter into the dating world.
You may call this cruel, but I call these thoughts pure unadulterated escapism and a tiny bit of comfort on the days my kids are driving me batty. Plus, do you think that I will hear arguments about cleaning the gutters and cutting the grass from my children when I ask? If they know what’s good for them, I won’t. Why? Because they won’t have the luxury that I had of having parents that aren’t internet savvy (love you, mom and dad) and don’t know how to use Facebook.
Seriously though, the fact that they’re only small once could not be more true. Capture everything that you can whenever you can.
5. Simply saying “no.”
It could be your son, who is dragging out bedtime by asking you everything that there is to “know” about vampire squids. Do they wear capes? Do their eyes glow?…I should stop before I freak myself out. It could be your daughter who is in a stage where she insists on playing in the dog water dish time and time again. Or it could be kids who beg and beg for donuts…at 7 p.m.
All of these are prime examples of why it’s ok to just say “no.” I don’t make a habit of always saying “no” to my kids, at least not on the rare occasions that are just downright cute and worth seeing play out. But on a whole, when it’s bed time or nap time, when it’s time to go home, when it’s time for lunch…when it’s just time and you have to tell them “no,” don’t feel bad about it. Being told “no”, believe it or not, is healthy for them.
It is good for them to learn boundaries and limits from YOU instead of someone else or through other circumstances. Plus, sometimes for your own sanity, it is OK to just pull the plug and move on so that you can have space, breathing room or fewer messes to clean up. Also good to note, saying “no” applies to grown up’s as well. Don’t knock yourself if you just aren’t up for girl’s night because all that you want to do is lay on the sofa with your significant other and watch the news. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to cancel your usual Wednesday night plans because you are up to your ears in things to do and just need a night in to relax. As long as you aren’t letting life pass you by, don’t feel bad and remember that life goes on. It will all work itself out.
There you have it. I hope you’re enjoying your week! Rejoice, because Friday is nearly upon us! Woot!! Now, go and ignore some housework while instead taking pictures of fun stuff and when your kids finally ask if you can stop taking some of their treats, sigh and tell them no.