On the weekend I told my husband I wanted to write a post about mother’s guilt, and he asked me “What the heck is that?”.
I gave him a scenario from last week that involved him. I woke up with my son every day last week to get him ready for school, or on my days off to get him up for breakfast and off to whatever plans we had going on that day. My husband usually works earlier than I do, so I handle all of the school drop-off’s, and on Friday and Saturday morning I happened to have play dates that I had to take him to early.
On Sunday morning my husband allowed me to sleep in and said he would get up with my son. Somehow I ended up sleeping in until 11:00am and woke with a panic. Where was everyone? Why was it so quiet? Why was I so rested?!
I called my husband and it turned out he took my son for a little coffee date at Starbucks, and then they headed to Joey’s World to hang out for a few hours.
I felt really guilty about the whole thing.
I felt guilty that my husband was the one who had to try and wrangle my son into his clothes for the day (never an easy task). I felt guilty that my husband had to try and get my son out the door because that usually involves begging, pleading and a bit of bribery to get his hat, gloves and jacket on him. I felt guilty that I wasn’t there to play with my son at the play place. I felt guilty I wasn’t there to help my husband entice my son to actually LEAVE the play place. I felt bad that I missed out on the cute moments they probably had while sitting at Starbucks.
So why couldn’t I just enjoy that morning of freedom? Where does all of this guilt come from?
If I had to get up six days in a week with my son, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that I felt bad for that one day I let my husband do it.
When I told my husband that I felt guilty about that morning, he was in disbelief. Why would you ever feel guilty he asked? He told me that I do everything he did that morning and more all the time, so why can’t he do the same?
I asked him if he ever felt guilt like that, and he said no – he said he doesn’t think about it.
I was so jealous in that moment. I feel guilty all the time! I feel guilty when I leave my son with his grandparents for a night out, and I feel guilty when I leave my son and husband at home while I go out to an event. I always feel really guilty when I pick my son up later from school because I was late from work.
My rational-self understands that it’s good for not only myself to get some alone time, or time with friends to keep a bit of my independence, and my sanity. I also understand it’s great for my son to spend quality time alone with his father, and his with his extended family.
I thought really hard about it this weekend, and the best explanation for the guilt I feel is that no one understands better than I do not only how hard it can be to raise my son, and also how amazing it is.
It’s not easy to raise a toddler. Sometimes he’s a little moody, or clingy, or difficult, or particular. He likes his cereal poured to a specific level that he calls “big bigger!”, and he likes to have his boots put on him before his jacket. He likes to bring a different car with him each time he leaves the house, and for the last couple weeks he’s wanted to bring his fish Nemo everywhere. I know all of these things better than anyone.
I also know that when he really likes something he throws his hands into the air and says “I like it!”, and that his favourite thing to do with me is to run full speed with a giant smile on his face as he knocks me over. Who would ever want to miss these things? They make me the happiest!
What I have figured out for me, is that my mother’s guilt is a combination of understanding how hard it can be to take care of a toddler, and a bit of worry that I am missing out on something awesome.
Although I am completely jealous that my husband doesn’t feel any of this guilt I carry around with me, I am pretty grateful that he is awesome enough to support me spending time on my own, or out with friends, and that he understands the importance of us spending time on our own as well.
I feel like this guilt will never go away. Mostly because I have another 16 years of getting my son out the door in the morning, or driving him to soccer practice, or to meet his friends. And mostly because he won’t stop being his awesome self that I don’t want to miss a moment of. I am just hoping that the rational side of me will win out and let me be ok with taking a break from the resulting guilt.