Adventures in Mommy Guilt

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I have reoccurring dreams.  Most recently, I dreamed about visiting the company where I used to work.  I wake up.  I oversleep.  I can’t find my clothes, start the car, get ahold of anyone to tell them that I’m struggling.  I wallow in frustration until things then get worse; I start moving in slow motion.  I can’t move.  Finally, I arrive at the company campus, anxious because they have moved on without me.  They work, achieve and grow… I don’t.  Wonderful new things will have taken place.  I am not a part of it.  I see faces of people I know and they are so busy….bustling around -stressed.  Then, I am enlightened by a conversation with an old coworker.  Nothing has changed.  I’m told they just haven’t gotten around to agreeing on a strategy – an action plan – anything.  I am suddenly elated…. NOTHING has changed.  The world hasn’t moved on without me.  I haven’t been left behind.  GOOD GRIEF.  NOTHING has changed?

Undoubtedly, this dream was triggered by an innocent conversation about a friend’s exciting opportunity – a teacher invited to give a  lecture before peers.  To work so hard and feel the reward of accomplishment ….of earning the respect of your field.  Thus, my internal struggle reared its ugly head.  A twinge of guilt.  Regret.  Then, frustration at my own reaction.  The world was moving forward with a goal.  I was not.

Time and time again, I experience guilt.  I know many of us do.  At my paying job, it was guilt about leaving my children in someone else’s care every day from dawn ’til night.  When I’m home folding laundry as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom)…it’s guilt about not contributing financially.  Not able to keep a clean house, even though I’m the at-home parent.  Guilt about cleaning vs. playing with my daughter.  Guilt about not “achieving” some sort of career, perhaps short-changing myself and even my children.  Guilt about not knowing my next move – not having an action plan.  Not playing the game of life where I advance to a next step.

A reminder popped up in my email yesterday… a simple little saying that spoke to me: 

If you have one eye on yesterday, and one eye on tomorrow, you’re going to be cockeyed today. ~Author Unknown

You see, I have always had a target.  Get A’s.  Win the race.  Get the role.  Graduate at the top.  Pursue next degree.  Find a good job.  Excel.  Advance.  Get that promotion that comes with a nice paycheck.  Get bigger paycheck.  When I’m engrained with that sort of competitive spirit for years and years and YEARS (as so many of us are) ….I need to check myself from time to time.  I stopped that way of thinking so I could see straight right now.  I wanted this and I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity.  I get the opportunity to raise 3 beautiful children how I want them to be raised.  To nourish them how I want them to be nourished.  To create a sense of home and foundation, so they can thrive.  They are my now and our tomorrow.  I can’t think of a more important job. 

Now, I’m not judging any mom or dad that drives to their office every day.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence and it’s not greener on either side.  Countless parents are trapped in the same struggle.  I always go back to the last week of my paying career.  Parent after parent stopped me – in a hushed whisper – spilling their envy about my decision to stay home with my children.  I feel for those conflicted parents, but commend their quest for making a more financially comfortable life for themselves and their families.  I also feel for the SAHP, whose 24×7 pay-free career sometimes feels invisible and thankless. 

Look at it this way. We are all in this together.  The decision I made was right for me.  I made a situation  for myself that gave me options and I jumped at the path that called to me.  I think I’m good at it.  It doesn’t feel like work, when I am passionate about what I’m doing.  Isn’t that the example that I want to set for my own children?  I just need to remember that.  I can only wish the same for all parents out there. 

To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.  ~Josh Billings

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