I’ve been thinking a lot lately about guilt. Everyday, I feel it; I’m letting someone down in some way by my limited abilities that prevent me from accomplishing everything that I set out to do. At night, after the bewitching hour that my kids go through, I am so physically exhausted that all I can do is veg out on the couch and hope they’ll watch American Idol with me and just relax. Usually they dance and want me to dance and tell tales of what it will be like when they go to American Idol. They want to know if I’ll drop them off, come home and watch them on TV and then return to greet them outside the audition doors to celebrate “Going to Hollywood Baby!” On the best nights, they’re completely enthralled in it, with Logan making elaborate tallies of who they’ll vote for (every contestant, every time) for both her and Riley. It’s pretty cute. All the while I am so grateful for the chance to sit that only comes after Finn retires.
Then the girls go to bed and the guilt immediately hits me. “Did I do enough, did I remember to practice reading or play math games with Logan? Did I spend enough one-on-one time with Riley? Did Finn see me as anything else but the giant person preventing him from doing everything he wants to do all day?” For as much as I need the break when they go to sleep, I wish they were still up so that I could give them the extra love and attention and time that were lost to the necessities of the day.
A wonderful friend of mine is going through a hard time with an infant that won’t take a bottle. It’s a struggle, she wants to continue nursing without a doubt, but inevitable situations arise that require her to leave the house. She works, but returns home every two hours to nurse her baby. She recently attended the funeral services for a very close friend's mom, but had no choice but to bring her daughter out on a frigid Chicago day. All the people around her, friends, family and medical professionals, tell her to go away for the weekend and starve the baby, leaving her no option but the bottle. And she just can’t do it. Even though she feels she wants to get out alone for more than two hours, she feels too guilty about an ounce of her daughter’s suffering being caused by her decisions.
I had the same problem with Riley, who NEVER took a bottle once in 13 months, so I can relate. When talking with my friend the other night, I completely empathized. It is such a hard place to be – wanting more than anything to create a perfect world for your child, but feeling the twinges of the need to take care of yourself, too. At the end of our conversation, I told her that I thought this feeling would never end, that it must just be part of being a mom. The feeling is always there, it just morphs to fit into new situations. It is a hard job on so many levels. You want to be everything to so many people in your life, but in the end I think that you can only do it if you are true to yourself as well.
I have had a crazy week with writing assignments and had to do several phone interviews that I did not expect. All the while I was hoping (because that’s all that I can do) that my kids – read “Finn” – would cooperate so that I could perform them uninterrupted and well. This is a tall order, but they are almost complete and I think I came off sounding somewhat professional. I found myself getting so worked up in knots, wanting to yell at the kids, wishing I had some time alone. As soon as I took a step back and realized that the details of this day wouldn’t matter down the line, it was easier. I got through it and got back to my full-time gig as mom. Not without guilt mind you - it will always be there – possibly making me a better mom, reminding me of what’s important and how quickly this will all fly by.