There’s a constant mental war going on inside my head. I believe every mother (and father) deals with it at one point, but for me, it seems like it’s waging every day. A rifle shot sounds as soon as I drop my daughter off at school, I mean come on, I must be a bad mother for working? Especially when I made a promise to stay at home with her when I was pregnant. On that note, another rifle shot sounds and I don’t know if a blended family is right for her.
Hot damn. The enemy line is approaching, when I yelled at her yesterday for sassing me when I asked her to clean her room? I must have wasted precious weekend time fighting with her. Hell, when I made her go to school when she was upset that other morning… that surely was the wrong choice. Explosion. Telling her we’d play outside tomorrow when she wanted to ride bikes and I was exhausted from work. More wasted time.
Yup. That’s it right there. That, is just a small portion of the mommy-guilt-war that wages inside my head. Being a parent is tough sometimes, I know for me that I feel a lot of guilt for what we *don’t* do, despite all of the fun stuff we actually *do* do. I think that no matter what we mothers do, how we act, or which decision we make, there is always the lurking thought when things settle down that maybe we could have done better. Maybe we could have made our child(ren) happier, or maybe we could have handled a melt down a better way. Parenting is not easy folks, at least not for me.
Growing up, my parents made it seem way easier than it is. My mother cooked dinner more nights than not, and my Dad never seemed to complain about work. Despite being booted out the door to go play as soon as we got annoying, I still held my parents’ .. well… parenting at top notch. Being children, we don’t realize that our parents were struggling too. Now that I’ve gotten older, and have heard some of the stories, chuckles, and tears about raising my sister and I, I realize that we just didn’t know. However, that doesn’t mean that the parents I was lucky enough to grow up with didn’t set some impossibly high standard for my own life.
For example, society has brainwashed us that a happy, healthy family eats together every night. That home-cooked meals create healthy, happy children. I know I’m speaking for more than myself here, but I know after a 14 hour day when I finally get home, just glancing at the ingredients to make dinner makes my brain hurt. So we’ll order something and eat something in our respective places. Later on that evening, when I’m back to work at my own desk, that guilt kicks in. I should have made dinner, we should have eaten at the table together. Despite the fact that we do more often than not, I will feel guilty for taking the easy route.
Of course I don’t remember the nights when we were kids that we got Wendy’s for dinner (one had just opened up by our house) because my parents were too exhausted to cook. Nope, I remember my mother’s home made chili going for hours and the corn bread from scratch. Instead of realizing that it’s okay to be lazy once in a while, it’s okay to be tired, I hold myself to that latter standard. My parents did it, with a lot more on their plate than myself, so why can’t I?
The end point of all of this, is that I, as well as too many other parents, might be being too hard on ourselves. With social media, technology as a whole we have too much to compare ourselves too. If that’s not enough, we have endless articles on what, who, how we are damaging our children. So we go about our days, pushing ourselves to line, and if we don’t accomplish what society has set up for us, we beat ourselves up. We double think what we are doing, and instead of enjoying the little moments, the happy moments, the good we *do* accomplish we are left feeling inadequate and lost.
No parent is perfect, and no childhood is perfect. As long as our kids are happy (despite having to clean their rooms, eat their dinner, do their homework and not be little miniature assholes) and healthy (as can be), we’re doing a good job. I’m not a bad mom for working my ass off or creating a blended family. You’re not a bad mom for not buying the latest gadget, and you over there? You’re not a bad dad for yelling at your kid for talking back. Go ahead, take a break, just because your kids aren’t eating dinner 7 days a week at the kitchen table doesn’t mean you’ve ruined them.
Now if society and social media could just let parents know that once in a while, I think we’d all breathe a bit easier.