I was trying to keep my blog idea in my head today because my 20 month old absolutely does not let me on the computer while she's awake anymore. And by that I mean, I can not handle the horrendous sounds of gnashing of teeth that come from her as she tries to communicate with me that she would either 1) like to be with me on the computer (we have a baby gate protecting the computer from her...). 2) would really like me to get OFF the computer 3) just wants to scream and create chaos because she sees how I react. My child is non-verbal- meaning that at age 20 months, she still is limited to a vocabulary of 2 words. Momma and Dadda. Now, of course, I think I hear certain words, but my husband is not so convinced.
That's a story for another blog- so before I forget about the Mom guilt, let's continue.
I tried this morning to wear my headphones and talk into my voice recorder so I could remember what all I was trying to convey in my head onto this blog. Unfortunately, what I really need is what those transcriptionists (ok, is that a word? You know, those people that type what doctors/lawyers/people dictate into a Dictaphone?) Anyway, I tried to listen to what I said and my voice makes my skin hurt, so it was touch and go as I tried to listen to my words to relay my concern about mom guilt today.
I suffer from Mom guilt terribly. Mom guilt is what a lot of moms suffer from. If you're a mom, and you have no mom guilt, go away. No, just kidding, you're blessed and I hope you see that and don't knock the moms who struggle with Mom guilt. I think it's very real and I think it plagues more moms than realized. I think moms feel guilty for even HAVING mom guilt which only adds to the emotional roller coaster of the original mom guilt. I know for a long time, I ignored it. I pretended it was normal thinking. I have been dealing with Mom guilt since trying to even conceive a child if you can believe it. It took almost two years to get pregnant with our first, and the guilt I felt over not being able to get pregnant was horrible! I blamed myself, food I ate, drugs I had taken, silly, completely NOT related to getting pregnant, issues flooded my brain every month that I started my period.
What did I do wrong this month?
It only continued and took on other forms after the birth of my first child.
Let me give you some examples of Mom guilt.
Should I work? Should I stay home? Am I doing enough here at home? Am I doing too much outside of my home? Should I breastfeed? should I bottle feed? Disposable or cloth diapers? Home made baby food or jar food? Co-sleep? Pacifier? (Heaven help if there's nipple confusion) Do I have more children? Do I have too many children (don't answer that one)? Am I a good mom? Am I the only mom who yells at her kids? Am I the only mom who struggles with things on a daily basis? Should we do this, that or whatever? Do we move? Do we stay? Can we afford to.... Can we afford not to.....
This list is actually just a small snippet of what went on in my head this morning as I thought about the myriad of guilt questions that I'm certain I've had in my almost 15 years as a parent and beyond. I also know other moms who have felt the same or similar when it comes to feeling guilty.
I've been reading this fascinating book called, "The Catholic Guide to Depression" and in it, I have really come to recognize my depression and how it controls me. I also have a great feeling of ah-ha that I'm not a total freak, after I read it as well. (sometimes, depression can make you feel like you're the only freak in the whole world who feels the way you feel-it's a horrible feeling, one that is very difficult to explain and rather embarrassing because very well intended people tend to just say, "get over it!" )
In this book, I also recognize that I have basically stopped taking care of me. Me, Catholicmomma. Not me the mommy, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc, etc. I have let myself believe that "this is how it has to be" and really just given up on ever really doing things for myself. Some of it is guilt of what others will think of me. Remember I suffer terribly from that. Perception is how most people judge others and if people 'perceive' me to be a "selfish" person who only does things for me, than that's the wrong message I want to send!!!
It's funny, because I wasn't like this until I moved up north and I suppose I felt conflicted because it seemed as though church people were all about only being with family, and never doing things outside family and certainly not just mom doing something, and my secular peeps who every night were doing things for themselves and when they could fit their family in, they did- so perhaps seeing the two different perspectives I didn't want to be like either one completely, and yet, did to some degree....if that makes sense. And certainly not to put down the people I have known, or still know that live up here at all. Most of my worries are seriously, just in my own head.
But what I discovered as I read this book, and really sat and meditated on what God wanted from me, I discovered that I haven't done anything I used to do back home. I started out doing some things, a prayer group that met weekly, but then that fizzled when I decided people were coming out of obligation and then I got pregnant and it became 'easy' to drop it.
My moms group back home, met every week during the school year. Of course, it wasn't nearly as complicated as the moms group I belong to up here, it was in someone's home and when our group got bigger, we split into two groups in two homes. It was intimate and we learned about our faith and we had fellowship. The babysitting every week was a blessing and certainly helped recharge my battery like nothing else. But we didn't stop there. We had park days, play dates, smoothies at the gym (several of us belonged to the same gym that had babysitting when we worked out-we would finish early and grab a smoothie and a great conversation before picking our kids up.
We had a monthly couple group called 'Just Desserts' and it was limited to 10 couples (which is why it spread into three-four different groups by the time I moved I believe) and it was so intimate. Again, met in someone's home and either did a video with questions, book study, bible study, you name it. But it was small and intimate and so cozy comfortable.
My girlfriends and I would have several events throughout the year we really looked forward to. One year, we went to Hot Springs for the weekend. Every year, several of us looked forward to the War Eagle craft fair up at War Eagle. It was a beautiful spot in the Ozarks that rain or shine brought out some amazing crafts and people watching! (not to mention, funnel cake to die for!!!)
We also went to Branson, MO every year in November or December. This was particularly fun for me because it was a time in my life where I could spend a little money on myself (which I never hardly do) and my husband would actually stay home, and depending on whether there was a baby under the age of one who breastfed, he would begin several months prior, encouraging me to pump enough milk for him to watch the baby and I still, to this day, think he's the most amazing dad on earth. He didn't even complain when the kids were crazy, baby didn't eat, or anything. He gave so much to me in allowing me to go and be kid free, and worry free. He understood my need to be me for a day or two and sacrificed his time to be dad for 24/48 hours and loved me through it and made me fall in love with him even more.
I have let all that go in the five years I've been here and felt so empty because I haven't had much of that me time that I require to be who I am. I truly believe that some of it stems from feeling guilty over what people would think or say. I have discovered that no matter where I live, north or south, there are people who clearly weren't born with filters. They'll tell you whatever is on their mind whether they should really think first before speaking or not. And not all of them work at Walmart like they did in the south.... ;) I'm so worried about people giving me their 'advice' on why getting out without my family is wrong and how I need to learn to channel those needs in the confines of my home or close by or even during the week while my baby sleeps. I once again, am letting fears that are slightly unfounded, control my needs.
I have to do things for me without this Mom guilt. I have to see past the fact, that while on the outside I may look like I have it all together, I am literally falling apart on the inside. I am not handling things well at all and if I don't start making time for me, it's going to get worse and my husband is beginning to see this as well.
We as moms, have got to let go of this stigma that we have to explain everything we do, or justify everything we say, just so we don't worry about who we offend. Our secular world is already beating us to death with this mindset making us believe that because we don't think, act, look, or accept everything that our culture deems "worthy" that we are horrible people. This doesn't help mom guilt!! And it's rather ironic when we want people to be individuals, and to think for themselves, when we're constantly having to defend our words, actions, choices, etc. I can dislike how someone lives their life, but if I were to say something? Whoa nelly...
Well, those mindsets are settling themselves into moms as well. Moms who struggle everyday to be good, holy people and try with all their heart to raise their kids with good, holy values. I want to be the best person I can be, I want to serve God and bring to Him my children, raising them up right, teaching them to respect and be respected and honestly, I feel as though we are letting our culture run our thoughts and actions. I can't be the best mom or wife I can be, without taking time for me and it's ok that it's not a holy activity. For so long, I made myself feel as if what I enjoyed doing was wrong because it wasn't holy enough and clearly, I wouldn't "fit in" if I tried to suggest it. How silly of me! But when you are depressed, a simple thought can become almost an overwhelming billboard sign in your head screaming horrible things at you that you are not worthy, not worth it, and stupid.
So what am I doing to combat that mom guilt?
I have already invited several moms on a shopping trip in a few weeks. Will anyone come? Who cares. *Gasp* I said that. Out loud even. I am even going to invite moms to a bible study on the day that works for me. Will anyone come? Who cares. (Two in a row!) I'm letting go slowly of that guilt. Remember, we are clay in a Potter's Hand. Let Him mold you into the perfect creation, one day at a time. And also, remember that sometimes, that clay needs more work and might need repollishing. We are not perfect humans. We are striving to be, but only God can make that happen when we finally meet Him face to face.
Go do something for you today or make plans to do something in the near future for you soon. And I pray you feel no mom guilt over it. Offer it up for those moms who never do things for themselves. ~Blessings~