OH. MY. GOD.
Guilt. GOD I hate the word, I hate the feeling. I hate getting it, I hate giving it. It’s the crappiest, shittiest, most USELESS emotion in the world. I was actually sitting down to write about something entirely different, and then a wee little comment was tossed my way, JUST as I sat down and opened the laptop, and that was it.
SO, LET’S TALK ABOUT GUILT, SHALL WE?
Why? Why is nothing that anyone does EVER enough. If I’m cooking, I feel like I should be cleaning. If I’m cleaning, I feel like I should be out getting groceries. If I’m out getting groceries I feel bad because I’ve either left my kids at home with someone else OR I’ve dragged them with me and they are miserable. Don’t even get me started on the guilt I feel if I’m (GOD FORBID) taking a shower, talking on the phone, sending a text or have ACTUALLY left the house to do something for myself like get a haircut or buy a new top to wear at Christmas.
When was it decided that I am a robot? Who made this decision?! They are FIRED from life! How can a man be down and out with a cold for daaaaaaaaaaaaaaays, but after I gave birth (naturally!), each time I was up and taking care of business the next day? Sometimes, just sometimes, I stop what I am doing… cloth in hand, washing machine door open, faucet running, food on stove, and just cry. Is that weird? I just think about what I’m in the middle of doing, and how much is left to be done. Then I think about how it will all. start. again. tomorrow. And then I cry. It’s so freaking overwhelming! The enormity of life and its endless routine is TOUGH. I’d love to be one of those people who just flies by the seat of their pants, but I’m not – and I can’t be. And what the hell does that expression MEAN anyway? Fly by the seat of their pants? What the hell?
Anyway – it’s endless. I admit that I have moments when I wonder if I should eventually return to work, but I know that’s not what I want. I was never happy working full time and this truly is what I want to do with my life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or simple, or even manageable sometimes. Did I think that being a stay-at-home mom was going to be easy? Maybe. I think I knew that it would be a very hands on, down and dirty, not a second to myself kinda gig… I just don’t think I realized the monotony of it. How many times can you change a diaper, wipe a counter, say “Get down!”, fold a shirt, empty a garbage, pour a bottle, or put a toy in its place? I think that even the most mundane of jobs have more variety on most days than that of a SAHM. I remember working as a cashier at a hardware store when I was in school – NOT a glamorous job by any stretch of the imagination, but I interacted with different people every day. I left the house. I got up in the morning and got ready – I had somewhere to be! I was important and heading out into the world to contribute something of myself! You don’t get that same feeling as a SAHM. There’s very little motivation involved in this job. Why get dressed? Why put on makeup or do my hair? I’m not going anywhere, not seeing anyone.. what’s the point?
I am okay with this for the most part, but where I draw the line is feeling guilt when the RARE occasion arises that I have a moment to do something for myself. I literally live for my family. Every moment of my day – and night! – is dedicated to the feeding, bathing, cleaning, nurturing, teaching, reminding, loving, dressing, changing, guiding, driving, holding and providing for the people in this house. If I get a minute to shower, or run out to get a trim or buy a new pair of shoes, should I REALLY feel bad about it? Should I really feel like I’m somehow shirking my duties or failing as a wife/mother/house keeper if I’m not working 24/7? My husband says that there are immense expectations of me now, but that it’s okay because in a few years when my kids are all in school full time, I will essentially be retired at the age of 39.
So, my kids will be 12, 6 & 4… yah.. they won’t need me at ALL.
I am tired today. Every parent knows that at the end of the weekend it is not at all uncommon to be more exhausted that before it began! Groceries, sick kids, putting up decorations, shopping, soccer, it’s never ending. The only reason I look forward to the weekend nowadays is because at least there is another set of adult hands in the house, but this weekend my husband put it some long work hours and I was on my own, which makes 7 straight days of full time mommying. I’m spent. I just wish it was easier to find some balance, how does one achieve such a thing? I literally don’t think there are enough hours in the day for family, kids, friends, work, home, or SELF. And why is SELF last on the list? I mean it’s okay to put others first.. I understand that and I encourage it! But SOMETIMES I need to come first. God even TYPING that made me feel like crap!! But sometimes this house feels like it’s made of quick sand. Maybe it’s sleep deprivation, maybe it’s the Postpartum rearing its ugly head, maybe it’s both. But there are days when I feel like I’m made of lead and this place is just sucking the life out of me. I feel a great need to apologize for writing that, but I’m not going to. HA! Take that.
Christmas is a great time for guilt too, isn’t it? So many functions, so much family, are they coming here? Are we going there? Am I cooking? Can I bring something? But we went there LAST year, shouldn’t we go here this year? Did I buy too much for the kids? Not enough? My personal family situation is tough in that my parents are not together and both have families of their own, it’s double everything. Then add to that the fact that my daughter has a separate Christmas with her father and HIS family… it’s I.M.P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E. In 35 years, I guarantee you that I have never once managed to appease everyone. I recently pondered the fact that Christmas is TOTALLY my favourite time of year, and wondered how the HELL that is even possible? I have more stress in the four weeks surrounding Christmas than during any other time of the year. I have four parents, and growing up I had seven grandparents. I am one of five kids (step, half, you name it..). I have seven nieces and nephews and three kids of my own. I now have in-laws, and an ex who I raise my daughter with. It’s tough to NOT feel guilty when I know that there’s always someone, somewhere, who wishes that I was there this time of year, or my family, or my daughter. When she wakes up here on Christmas day, I think of her dad and how brutal it must feel to not have her that morning. When we spend Christmas eve at my mom’s, I feel bad knowing that my husband’s siblings are all at his parents’ house. There is no way to “win”, but I guess that’s really not how I should be looking at things. It’s about giving the best of yourself, but not ALL of yourself. As a person, as a woman, and especially as a mother, if you give everything, eventually you just have nothing left. I know I’ve been there, and I was just talking to a friend today who is in that spot right this very minute. You simply cannot exist for the sole purpose of catering to the needs of others. You cannot give your best to anybody when you don’t take the time to make sure you’re AT your best. No matter how well intentioned you are, you will end up burnt out and full of resentment. At some point, you have to take care of your own needs, and hopefully there is someone in your life who understands that while you’re busy taking care of everyone, once in a while someone needs to take care of YOU.
Tonight, after the kids are asleep, (in TEN MINUTES!!!) I am going out to the pharmacy to pick up milk, butter and cat food. I’m not sure when this became my version of “me time”, but I will crank the tunes, rock out in my mommy van and love every SECOND of browsing those aisles. That’s right – I’m going OUT tonight!!!