Guilty McGuilterson

I thought the guilt would go away when I became a stay-at-home mom, whether I chose to stay home or not.

I thought that only work-out-of-the-home moms suffered from guilt.  Because it's ingrained in them that they should feel guilty. 

Well now I've been both places.  I've filled both roles.  And, therefore, I feel qualified to say this, whether it applies only to me and I need to deal with it, or it's something others struggle with too...

It's really easy to find things to feel guilty about, regardless of your day job.

When I was working, I felt guilty because:

~Society told me I was letting someone else raise my children.
~My kids caught more colds and viruses than their non-school-going playmates.
~I didn't give my job 100% because there was always a portion of my thoughts and heart that were on my family.
~There seemed to only be time to do the things I had to do instead of the things I wanted to do, whether with the kids or around the house.
~I wasn't interested in making play dates for my kids because I was downright exhausted by the time nights and weekends rolled around, and I wanted them all to myself.

Now that I'm home, I feel guilty because:

~The TV is on too much.
~Our time on the playground is limited because I'm a nervous wreck with Sarah's bloody history.
~I feel like it's indulgent to treat myself to a Sonic Happy Hour drink or DD coffee.
~Instead of being happy to spend time with my kids, at the end of the day, I just want them to go to sleep.  (This one is the worst.)
~I attend school activities for my oldest with two little sisters in tow, instead of being able to give him my undivided attention.
~I'm no longer contributing, financially, to the family pot.
~I feel like I get to do things I want to do, while my husband is at work doing things he has to do.
~I'm still not a good cook, and I feel like if I get to stay home and play all day, I should at least come up with a decent meal for our bread-winner.
~I'm still downright exhausted by the time nights and weekends roll around.  Probably even more so than when I was working.

And here I thought having an experience at home would make it crystal clear as to which was right for me, and what God was calling me to do.

I was wrong.

What I do know is that this kind of guilt, the kind that doesn't come from immoral actions on my part, just needs to go on.  It's a mindset, and I'm letting the guilt win.

Any tips on that?  I'd be so very grateful.

There are things I miss about working - like the lunchtime workouts, unencumbered by an audience of little girls, the adult conversation, the chance to advance my career and use my college degree, the opportunity to become a competent engineer, and the freedom to buy a cup of coffee without feeling bad about it.  (Yeah, I guess I'm superficial.)

But now that I've tasted the fruit of stay-at-home mom-dom, there are things I will miss if I should go back to work - like the freedom to go to the library on a whim, being able to take a shower and immediately put comfy clothes (aka pj's) right back on, the squeeze-your-guts-out bear hugs I get all throughout the day, and the moments that I can't describe with words, but that melt my heart.

So there you have it.  What "it" is, I'm not sure.  I guess it's just transparency.  It's a confession that I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't know where I'm going, but I know this is part of my plan, and one day that will be obvious.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to Field Day for my precious first grader accompanied by two rambunctious girls.  But I'm going to pause for a few more minutes while Abby gives me a spontaneous back-scratch with a Mr. Potato Head arm, which she has clever dubbed "The Handy Helper".  That I could get used to...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5
P.S. - I'm going to do Mom Things this week (for my own personal benefit), just obviously not on Wednesday...and probably not on Thursday either.  Just to keep you interested  - here's a little preview of what's to come.


Brooke said...

Jennie, I completely understand!! I struggle with this too because in many ways, it would make sense for me to stay home. But I just don't know if I can handle it. If you every get it figured out, let me know. ;)

Anonymous said...

Guilt is part of the definition of a mother, Jenny, but it sounds like you've figured that one out! We're doomed with whatever we decide in any given situation! I love your posts. ggs

Debbie said...

I'm taking a break from my self imposed hectic day to sit down at this computer for a second, and I felt the need to snoop on Jennie.

Boy howdy, my young friend, do I understand you completely. I wish that I could say that I have come to a guilt-free place after all these years, but it's apparently as chronic as my fibro and a pain that comes and goes and attacks in a different little place every time it does.

I have been in both shoes too, and I *get it*. It didn't help me that when I worked full time, I was surrounded by those who didn't, and now that I do not work full time, I'm surrounded by those who do. I just can't win.

I never, ever, feel that I'm doing it right or good enough. There. I said it.

I just deleted a blog novel that was far too big on commiseration and far to short on encouragement.

I'll give you this instead:

A certain daughter of mine thinks that you are one of the most AWESOME moms she's ever seen. She says it frequently; she prattles on about it even. Whether you are working or home, that is one job you just plain do well, and you are known by your fruit.

Simply put, Mrs. Shep, if you want to see how competent you are, you need only count to three.

I know that doesn't help in the guilt moments. It's just my version of a hug.

Diane said...

I'm going to leave you with a new topic for a blog post: Failure. We set ourselves up for perfection, and are disappointed when we don't achieve it. We want to spend dedicated time with each of our children, and it's impossible. We have a perception of what we "should" be doing, and we can't.

Embrace it. Recognize that it's ok to fail at some of the (impossible) tasks to which you've set yourself. And recognize that the best gift that you can give your children, no matter where (and with whom) you're working, is a happy and well-adjusted mother. (and you're doing a great job!)

Amber said...

Really appreciate your post today - I've been following for awhile, but don't often post. It's so nice to hear your perspective from both sides of the fence. As a working mama, it's sort of a nice reminder that a lot of the feelings I'm having (guilt, etc.) are more linked to being a MOM than a WORKING MOM. Thanks :)

Anonymous said...

So totally get what your saying Ive been on both sides too. As a stay at home mom now I try putting my kids in the bed at 7 I just need that and I so feel guilty when we go out and do things whle my husband is work and comes tired and most nights cant walk through the house and dinner isnt ready or its burned already. I think we let other ppl decide how we should feel and things we should do so there for no matter what we do we feel guilty. My middle one (4) is in half day preschool and I have other parents telling me what a waste of money it is for me not working and paying for him to go and on the other hand I have friends that know me and my family and dont know why i dont have the baby there also.........Take it for what its worth bu I think you are a great mom and ur kids are great and well behaved (mine not so much). I love your blogs sometimes thats what keeps me going to know im not the only one :)

Sharon Kirby said...

They say (who is they, anyway??) there are only two things that you can count on in life. I say there's really three - death, taxes, and mother guilt.

I've come to the conclusion, however, that there's a difference between the conviction that comes from God (healthy) - and the guilt that comes from the enemy (unhealthy). One leads us back to the feet of God, where we can receive help - the other just paralyzes us.

So, I ask God to help me sort it all out. Somedays I get a passing grade - most days I score a solid "average."

At least we love our children enough to care...right??

Carrie said...

Great read! I miss blogging... and blog following! I'm thinking about thinking about it. Does that count?

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