Mom Guilt



It’s snowing outside.  And I’m in sweats, snuggled under a fleecy blanket, reading Jodi Picoult…and coughing my brains out.  This cold (such a trivial name for a virus that has the capacity to knock you on your butt for a week) has made its way around our family, and I’m still reeling from it. 

Want to know what I did today?  I got my kids breakfast and lunch, and I cleaned up a few toys.  Yep.  It’s four o’clock in the afternoon and that’s all I have to show for an entire day.  No shower, no make-up, no work, no laundry—I don’t even remember if I brushed my teeth or not.  

What struck me just now, watching the snow come down, is that six years ago—before the blessing of motherhood stamped her apparent approval on me—a day or two of “vegging” wouldn’t have bothered me.  I loved lazy, lingering summer days, reading a book in one sitting.  I looked forward to cold, house-bound days with nothing to do.  Once, a newly-wed Hubby and I even watched an entire season of 24 in 24 hours!   But all of that’s changed…because now I’ve somehow become host to Mom Guilt. 

Mom Guilt is the pressure to constantly be on the move and never sit down (Look at my check list—isn’t it grand?); it’s the apprehension when you’re on a date with your spouse (What if the babysitter lights the house on fire?!); it’s the remorse of not measuring up to your own expectations (I can’t believe I gave the kids chicken nuggets for dinner two nights in a row!); it’s the hesitation when you’re driving to meet a friend for dinner (I really shouldn’t make my husband do the bedtime routine all by himself!); it’s the nagging petulance that there’s so much to do, so much to do, so much to do…

And once Mom Guilt enters, she never leaves you alone.

Why does she enter in the first place?  I’m not sure.  Maybe she comes knocking the first time our newborn cries and we’re just too tired to get out of bed.  And then she walks in the front door when we yell at our two-year-old for drawing all over the hardwood floors.   And she kicks her shoes off and sits down when we let the kids watch tv for two hours because we’re sick of their fighting.   And she makes herself a cup of coffee and smiles, feeling right at home, every time we think of all the little things we do wrong and compare them with how little we seem to do right. 

But I’m only six years in and I’m tired of her.  I want to announce that she’s not welcome here!  I want to explain to her that I’m not perfect—but no one else is either.  I want to tell her that I am allowed to sit and read a book for an hour—even on a day when I’m not feverish or coughing up a lung.  And I’d like to remind her that even though I do a lot wrong, I do a lot right, too.  And maybe she’ll leave me alone long enough for me to enjoy watching the snow fall.