So I was going to write about my favorite Spring looks for the whole family this week, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Something has been on my mind and I just can’t shake it. I write this post at the risk of being just another one of those posts about Mommy Guilt, but here we go. Now, as a long-time sufferer of self-imposed worrying, guilt and anxiety, mostly about things out of my control, mommy guilt is just one more to add to the ever-growing heap and possibly my shorter life span. I’ve read a lot of posts about it lately. Are we doing the right thing, am I present enough, are my kids going to be messed up for life because I let them watch TV or eat McDonalds?
I’ve had weeks where all I thought about was how “present” (or un-present) I was in their life. I thought about how different my interactions are with our second little and whether that will impact his development. I’ve struggled with knowing what to do when our almost four-year-old challenges every thing I tell her, won’t eat her dinner, has mood swings worse than a teenager and in general turns into a tiny dictator. I’ve wondered if pursuing my dream is at the cost of theirs and whether they will sit in therapy for hours when they’re older because of it.
In the midst of those weeks I have thought about how I love them with every aching fiber in my body, how I would do anything to never let them suffer or feel pain, yet how important that lesson in life is, and how I will help them achieve their wildest, most impossible, craziest dreams if it makes them happy and how I would gladly lay down my life to give them a better one. So won’t they easily thrive in an environment like this? It’s not dependent on whether I played Baby Einstein music as they slept in their cribs, finished (or actually started) their baby books or knew exactly what to do every time they cried, right? Right?!
My most “liked” photo on Instagram is a photo of my kids holding hands where I talked about this subject for the very first time. While I still mean what I wrote and try very hard to be present every day, I look back now and realized I was caught up in a pursuit of being the perfect mom; the one who can do it all. I know several other moms who have had blog posts go viral and resounding response on social media for being open and honest about being mom, mommy guilt and the Pinterest perfection. So it’s striking a cord and we all must be feeling some level of this in our lives. The struggle to be present, the struggle to cherish it all and the struggle to feel balanced. Struggle with the Juggle as my friend, Nicolle Spitulnik says. Mommas everywhere are looking for the answer.
I’m sorry but cherishing every moment is not the answer. It bothers me when people tell moms to cherish every moment; I know they don’t mean any harm in it. They are thinking about their own experience and how quickly it goes by. But try to remember, we want to. We really and truly want to relish in every single little moment because we know it goes by all too fast. We ache and ache because today we weren’t very present or we didn’t cherish every moment. Maybe we didn’t even cherish one moment because some days you’re just trying to survive. And that hurts a place in your heart so deep down you never even knew it existed. We know. We get it.
So far this post is my favorite on the subject; it really spoke to me in a way that all the other posts couldn’t seem to do. It’s going around right now so you’ve probably read it and it’s the reason I finally decided to write this post. Megan says “Can I enjoy being needed? Sometimes, sure, but often it is tiring. Exhausting. But, it isn’t meant to be enjoyed every moment. It is a duty. God made me their Mom. It is a position I yearned for long before I would ever understand it.“ Right on, sister. As long as I can remember I wanted to get married and have babies. Not to say I didn’t want a career or to do other amazing things, but I just knew I was put on this Earth to have children. You don’t; actually, you can’t understand what that means until that little person makes their entrance into the world.
So, here is the conclusion I’ve come to about mommy guilt…let it go. (Cue Frozen soundtrack in your head…) Easier said than done, right? Well, this is what I’m going to tell myself…Wake up each morning with the resolve to make this day better than the last. Love them with all you’ve got (that’s the easy part, right?) Try your best. If you fail, it’s okay. Really, it’s okay to mess up. It’s okay to not cherish every moment. It’s okay to feed your kids pizza if you don’t feel like cooking. It’s okay to yearn for just five minutes by yourself. It’s okay to not know what to do all the time. Say you’re sorry if you need to. Say it to yourself too. Give lots of hugs and kisses. Wash your face, get in bed and let it all go. Tomorrow is another day. Rinse and repeat, mommas.