Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Update and Mommy Guilt

Just wanted to let all of you who gave me some great advice and ideas on this earlier post, that I am THAT mom, and I was successful in my attempt to protect Charlie from zoning out on the TV for an hour three times a week. On my next visit to the gym, I told the woman as I handed Charlie to her that I would really prefer that he not watch TV and that I brought some toys and a lovey to keep him entertained and comforted if needed. She looked at me and said "Someone's been letting him watch TV here?" as if she was in charge and that should NOT be happening with the babies. I told her that he had been watching TV several times when I had come to pick him up and that I just felt he was too young. She assured me that he would not be watching TV anymore... and sure enough, the next time I dropped him off, they remembered him and that he would not be watching TV. They asked if I brought his toys again and it was so great feeling like they actually knew him and recognized us both and remembered his name, so ahhhh (sigh of relief) things are better in that department.

Even though its better, and I'm able to work out for an hour, three times a week, I still can't shake it. You know what I'm talking about if you're a mother. I had heard of it before having children and seen the katrillion Oprah shows of Mom makeovers for women who had completely let themselves go out of the Mommy Guilt. They had let their children's needs run their lives and run over their own simple personal needs and were run down, exhausted, and spent. Watching them, I felt that I would never be that way, because unfortunately and admittedly, I am a selfish person. This is a fact that I am not proud to admit but I figured it would save me from the grips of Mommy Guilt.

But was I ever wrong. It creeps up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when I drop him off at the gym Kids Klub about 30 minutes before his usual nap, knowing he may fuss and be sleepy and have to wait for me for an hour. I get in my workout class, and towards the end, I always think "maybe I should skip the abs part, or the cool-down, and go get Charlie early." It also creeps up on Sunday mornings, when again, I drop him off in the increasingly-crowded nursery where they often stick him in a swing and pop in the paci (once Sunday School starts, the older babies move to another class and there is a smaller teacher:baby ratio, but this is always the scenario when I first drop him off). And its there on Wednesday nights when I take him to the nursery at church yet again where he will stay up past his usual bedtime and usually have an all out scream-fest with the sweet nursery lady before falling asleep for maybe 30 minutes and then doing it all over again.

I have to remind myself: I need some time away from him. And its true, I know I do. It really does feel good to work out by myself. I have more energy and feel better about myself when I do it. And it feels good to attend Sunday School and church with my husband and sing with the praise team. And I think Charlie needs time away from me too. It's good for him to be cared by someone else every once in a while and for him to be around other kids, right? But then why is it so hard sometimes?

It's only for a grand total of about 6 and a half hours every week! Not even an entire day. Actually totalling it out like that does make me feel better. But anybody have any words of encouragement out there? How do you handle the Mommy Guilt? Does it get easier with the more kids you have? How do you push through it and remind yourself that its okay?


Devra and Aviva said...

At the risk of sounding all "High School Musical", it's actually true that we're all in this together. While it may be true the guilt increases as our kids get older and/or we add more children to our family, this doesn' necessarily mean the guilt will take over our lives making us feel tormented and miserable as a parent. Certainly that isn't the goal when we decide to take on parenthood!
We think it is FABULOUS that you are THAT Mom. We maintain that following your own gut instinct in many situations makes you actually pick the best choice for your child/family/self. You'll know the guilt is winning when you second guess yourself so much you wind up doing nothing or caving and feeling terrible later. Keep doing what you are doing and being THAT mom. : )
We also like to remind parents that God created the world and said "And it was good." He didn't say "And it was perfect." or "And it was Ivy League material."
If we didn't help with absolution here, please come find us over at our blog, Parentopia. : ) We may be more or less verbose over there, but hopefully we're always helpful!

Teri Dufilho said...

oh my, is charlie sitting up without the aid of dad's hand?.... that's such a cute picture!

annh said...

/Bethany, I am here to tell you, that guilt never ends, we have 3 "grown children", and I still try to spend as much equal time with them as possible, which is very hard as they all have their own lives and families, I even (which is going a little too far, probably) sometimes, buy them the christmas gifts alike...now that is bad, I am sure the professionals would say. , so my advice, is to do what you are doing, and everything will be fine

Megan Lagoy said...

I think it's harder when our kids are so little to get that space from them that we need SO much. It's just that when they're so small, they are so needy and their schedules are so important to them. But as they grow, they become more able to be flexible in their schedules without major crisis or breakdown. So, keep it up because it's as important now as ever that you get some time away from each other, but be encouraged that it will be easier when his sleep needs are less urgent!

amy o said...

You are correct! Charlie does need time away from you and vice versa. I hate to say absence makes the heart grow stronger, but it does. I felt so guilty putting Brooke in 3days of Mother's day out just for the first 2 months this year then dropping back down to 2 days. But I needed it to be able to run my business. I still feel the guilt, but I am also proud of my accomplishments and know that I would not have been able to accomplish it without that extra day.
You need to have an identity outside Charlie just like you have one outside Paul. It helps you have a better self-esteem which will reflect in how you relate to Charlie and Paul.