Guilty as Charged

Is it just me, or does guilt instantly become your default emotion the minute you become a parent?

Things I have felt guilty about since becoming a parent:

  1. Not spending enough time with my daughter
  2. Not spending enough time with my husband
  3. Not spending enough time becoming a better teacher
  4. Not taking enough “me” time
  5. Not working out or eating healthy enough
  6. Not reading enough books
  7. Not staying up-to-date on current events
  8. Not volunteering 
  9. Not being a good enough friend. Sometimes I’m too absorbed in my own family and daughter to really pay attention to my friends’ needs and problems. Then there’s the issue of not being able to be at every wedding shower, bachelorette, wedding, birthday, etc. 
  10. Not calling my grandma often enough
  11. Not keeping my house clean enough
  12. Not being the mom that my mom is. I can’t make an apple pie, sew, or french braid hair.
  13. Not telling my mom often enough how much I admire the mom she is
  14. Letting Maggie watch TV
  15. Letting Maggie snack too much
  16. Telling Maggie, “Just one minute” when what I really mean is, “I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing until I can’t take your harassment anymore and have to see what you want.”
  17. Giving Maggie what she wants when she probably should get a time out
  18. Totally neglecting my poor dog, who just wants someone to snuggle with
  19. Thinking about what I have to do while I’m in the middle of a conversation with another person
  20. Going days without checking anything off of my to-do list
Ok, so that’s twenty, and honestly I could keep going. I do have two and half years of guilt to catalog. In fact, let me be even more specific by doing a quick run-down of the guilt I’ve felt just today.
  1. Maggie climbed into bed with us at 7:00 this morning and I tried to pawn her off on Matt so I could keep sleeping, even though I went to bed before him. So, I felt guilty about trying to get him to do the work AND I felt guilty about wanting to be in bed rather than spending that time with her.
  2. I felt guilty about having two cups of half-caf coffee and another small cup of regular this morning. Doctor said it was okay, but what if I’m giving this kid a super-dose of ADHD while in utero?
  3. While Maggie and I were getting ready for church, she continually ignored instructions I gave her. Despite a clear warning, Supernanny-style, she still refused to listen, so I took away the one privilege she was really looking forward to: Sunday School. What kind of a mother punishes her child by not letting her go to church? Matt totally backed me up on this one, but I still felt like this was a dubious victory on my part.
  4. Throughout the entire church service, I couldn’t get my brain to focus. Weekends have been crazy lately and I’ve barely been to church, and there I was, glancing at my phone, thinking about the week to come, and still fretting about the Sunday School decision.
  5. I let the kid eat macaroni for lunch. AGAIN. 
  6. My students’ state test for my subject is on Friday, and they still have some major review to do. I had wanted to hand out a review sheet in class tomorrow, but guess what? It’s not ready. Worked on it for a little while just to decide that I’d finish it tomorrow and email it to them. 
  7. Decided that I’d rather be blogging. The good news? This is something I don’t need to feel guilty about.

5 thoughts on “Guilty as Charged

  1. Berni says:

    You are wonderful and I feel so blessed to have you as a daughter. oh yeah I already told you that and guess what I'm going to keep telling you!

    Like

  2. Jennifer Nagle says:

    I just wrote a really long response and it vanished. Here's the gist:
    The only thing you should feel guilty about is being way too hard on yourself! You are doing an amazing job of balancing many responsibilities and roles. Maybe instead of listing the negatives you feel, make a list of the qualities you like about yourself, or what you are proud of yourself for. Or look for and write down the gift you find in each day, which you would not even have if you were only focusing on one aspect of your life. And you are pregnant! Everything is temporary. You are a wonderful mother and wife and your family is lucky to have you. Now, if only you could see that!

    Like

  3. Lindsey says:

    Well if this isn't the best I don't know what is. Something we all can relate to. Right now, my guilt of the moment, is sitting outside Jack's bedroom door listening to him cry while I read this. Should I go in, wait 5 more minutes, or let him cry it out all together? I'm horrible at the crying it out so that won't happen! You are a great mommy, so you know deep down inside that everyone will be just fine. Love ya!
    Oh yeah…today Sydney had m&ms before her lunch and then a chocolate milkshake after! We were traveling, but all day I was positive her teeth were going to rot out of her head!

    Like

  4. Beth Dunn says:

    While I totally agree with what Jen says about focusing on the positive, I am also really thankful to you for putting a voice to this guilt that I think many parents struggle with. I read an interesting article a while ago (wish I could remember where, but you know how that goes…) about how the ideas of parenting have changed throughout history. It's only in fairly recent years that people have started thinking that parenting was an area where we should be striving for perfection. In the past, if your children were clothes, fed, and taught to be reasonably good people, you had done your job. And… I think maybe we need a dose of that kind of thinking every once in a while? You are genuinely doing the best you can, and I think most people in your life see that. I know Maggie feels your love, and that's real the most important thing of all, right? (Glad you decided to blog tonight.)

    Like

  5. Jenny says:

    Jen,

    I think those are all great suggestions, and I do often think about how blessed I am. If I didn't have this wonderful little girl, I certainly wouldn't have a lot of the problems I have! I would never ever in a million years change that. I hope my blog posts haven't come out seeming all negative. Mostly I want to put something out in the world that doesn't make parenting seem like this easy breezy experience where you have all the time in the world to try new recipes and do arts and crafts with your kids. Kudos to all the parents who manage to do those things, but I think that many of us have a different experience and end up feeling bad (like I talk about in this particular post) for not living up to that standard. I love that you are loving being a stay at home mom to Levi, but I have this sneaking suspicion that no matter what my situation, I will always be this hard on myself. It's in my nature. But that doesn't mean I can't keep a sense of humor about it!

    Like

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