Sunday, January 24, 2010

There's No Escaping the Guilt.

As a working mom, I often feel like I'm shortchanging, well, everyone. I run out of work as fast as I can so I can spend time with my daughter. Then I half-ignore her so I can get some housework done. And my husband? Well, let's just say it's a good thing he's a patient man.

But the one person who almost never gets any attention at all My hair hasn't been cut in almost three months. My makeup supplies haven't been replenished in six. Since Tori was born, I've been out with friends all of twice. Maybe three times. I'm lucky to get one book read every month, and naps (which used to be a treasured part of my weekends), have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Sometimes, I get to feeling like I'm running on fumes. Like I've got nothing left to give anyone. Like I just. need. a. break. If only for a couple of hours.

Today was one of those days. Tori's teething, or fighting a cold, or possessed by demons, or something (maybe all three). My house is a pigsty. My laundry pile is reaching epic proportions. And my husband was annoying me just by breathing (which does not diminish my love for him, right honey?).

And just to make it worse? There was no fricking coffee. Or tea. Or even coke (the caffeinated beverage. although maybe I need to consider investing in the other kind) anywhere in the house. It was a bad scene.

So, pretending I was heading to the grocery store, I left. And headed directly to Starbucks. Where I ordered a giant vat of caffeinated goodness, plunked myself down at a table and opened my book. It was heaven. Before I knew it, over an hour had passed.

As soon as that realization sunk in, guilt raised its ugly, snaggle-toothed head. How dare I neglect my family this way, it asked. Wasn't I always complaining that I didn't get enough time to spend with my daughter? I was a baaaaaad mom, it asserted.

So I called home and told my already fed-up sounding husband that I had lost track of time and would head to the grocery store immediately.

But I didn't. Instead I went to Kohls. Not looking for anything in particular. Just putting off the inevitable. Because I? Hate grocery shopping. Besides, I wasn't anywhere close to feeling recharged yet.

Unfortunately, Kohls had nothing I wanted to buy. It's that terrible time of year where I can't stand to look at sweaters anymore. But spring? Could very well be years away, so there's no point in buying any cute duds for that supposedly upcoming season.

Finally, I took myself off to Kroger, and after loading up on supplies, headed home. Where Tori was plunked in front of the TV (which she ordinarily is not allowed to watch. ever.) and my frustrated-looking husband was trying to pull a (wickedly delicious) chicken out of the oven.

Oh, the guilt. It hit me like a tsunami. I was asking too much of my husband. Caring too little for my child. How dare I leave them for that long? Bad person! BAAAAD person!

But the guilt was accompanied by a wave of resentment. Why shouldn't  I take some time out for myself? Didn't I count?

The only solution was to pour myself a biiiiig glass of wine. Which I eventually did, and am, in fact, currently sipping. But the frustration hasn't left me yet. It's just been pushed to the back of my mind and put on simmer.

So I'm asking you again, oh wise women of the Internet. Is it possible to find balance? Do I just need to get better at ignoring the guilt? Does it eventually get easier? Enlighten me. Please.


  1. Here's the thing, I don't think there is a way to balance everything. When you think you have it all figured out, you let something slip at work, or realize you haven't shaved your legs in 3 weeks.

    I think too often, we neglect ourselves... we are the first to go.

    Your day sounded perfect. But I think us moms need to unite. I propose we all tell our hubs we are going to work. Drop off the babes at daycare, and get to the spa for a hair cut and massage. Grab the babe after lunch time, take her home just in time for post-food naps. Wake up, go for a lovely walk, order sushi before hubs is home... and he would be none the wiser.

    Ahh... perfect.

  2. e, that sounds like a fantastic idea. maybe it should be our Valentine's Day present to ourselves....

  3. Oh, I sooo hear ya...mommy guilt is powerful stuff. I try to think of balance as a process, not a goal. I think it's impossible to do everything that we're supposed to do perfectly, all at the same time, so it's more a matter of figuring out when to give a little extra on some things and when to let some other things slide. Take some things off this side of the scale, add a little more to the other side, etc. And I absolutely think you need to give yourself a little extra now and then - I know I'm a better mom/wife/worker when I've had some time to recharge.

  4. I don't know about the wise woman thing, but I can so relate to your guilt. It almost sounds like you and I are the same. I would hit up Starbucks and Kohl's too and I hate grocery shopping. I figure for now, I will try to do the best I can with what I've been dealt. That, and trying to find a way to work from home.

  5. I'm not a mom, and I can't imagine working like I do, and being a mom, and being a great wife. It's a lot to handle!! Especially when you throw in the daily responsibilities of cleaning and shopping for groceries. The best advice I can give you at this time is to make sure you do take time out of every week or two for "me time". That way, your husband and daughter know that it's your time and then you don't need to feel guilty. You can't push yourself to the point of being burnt out. Before that happens, talk to your husband about needing that time out. I'm sure he will understand. Just make sure to make it up to him in other ways! ;-)

  6. The Starbucks made me chuckle but the Kohls made me snort! Of course you deserve to play hooky every once in awhile. Working outside the home and doing all the duties of mommy/homemaker is exhausting. I think it's necessary to our mental well-beings to take little mini-breaks from time to time. I think of it as a little rest needed to re-enter the trenches of mommydom/worker ant/wifey. And like Michael and Shelley say, I'm sure your husband would understand if you explain this need for time to yourself. I do get the guilt though, but I got over it quite awhile and three kids ago.

  7. Hi - found your blog from a comment at Girl in the Room. I know what you mean about feeling guilty over "me time." Hell, I feel guilty right now b/c I'm on the computer. And I kind of have a problem when it comes to how often I visit both Starbucks AND Kohls...following you now.

  8. For me, it's an on going battle. Even when I became a SAHM, the guilt is still there. Even though I spend all day with my son, I feel bad about "needing" to go to Target, by myself. You know, because we just happen to need another pack of diapers. Or coffee. Or chocolate.

    But here's the thing, if you don't take the time, you will go insane. You'll lose yourself in all of the family and work stuff. And someday you'll just go insane. So keep taking time for yourself, and just try to push the guilt aside (even though it will continue to show it's ugly head).

  9. Boy that sounds like my life. (Minus the hubby though). I finally went through all my stuff and got rid of everything I hadn't used in 6 months or more (except summer clothes or seasonal things) and gave away or trashed more than 60% of my things.

    I am blessed (sort of) in the aspect that I am a stay at home mom right now who gets every other weekend off (when the kids go to their dads) but for the most part I can completely agree with the suffering and ignoring of you time. I spent my time looking for a job or in all out depression for not having things exactly as I need/want them to be.

    Finally as 2010 approached I reached my final limit of being "ok" with the way things were in my life. I can't afford to cut my hair right now and I don't think I've bought any new make up in the past 2 years (other than mascara every 3 months, because really the last thing I need is to have to go to the eye doctor for using old mascara).

    I got to the point where I was constantly snapping at the kids, not because they were bad but because I was that depressed with how I spent my time and how messy the house was. Since you work full time it might take you a bit longer to do but I strongly suggest getting rid of the clutter and things you're holding onto for whatever reason. If you dont use it, get it out of your house.

    Not having so much junk means not having so much stuff to take care of. My house is finally clean and while I still don't have a job and have yet to really spend any time on myself my attitude has already changed. Probably because I've figured out that yes, I can control some things, and I've started to do just that.

    It's going to be a long process, this learning how to balance thing, but at least you're trying. And no I dont think you should feel guilty for taking some time off from the family.
    My mom started penciling in dates with herself once a month when I became a teenager. Really hectic months got at least 2 dates with self. Maybe you could try that? A whole day dedicated to just you. After all "when mama aint happy, aint nobody happy!" lol


  10. Lots of times I feel like I'm running on empty but still have to keep going.

    Following you from Follow Fridays.


  11. Finding balance is so remarkably tricky, it really is. I mean, look, I'm a stay-at-home mother, I am with my daughter ALL DAY LONG, but I still have moments of guilt if I ask for my husband for an hour alone or if I hear her scream when I'm trying to finish the dishes, etc. Every time I feel guilty, I try to ask myself if it's because I am doing something that I should feel guilty for - like earnestly and selfishly putting my desires over my child and marriage - or not. More often than not, I find that I'm doing something that I would never want my husband to feel guilty for, and it's hard to keep feeling guilty after that.

    I'm sure the all-elusive balance is there for all of us, the key is just to try and try again until we find it!

  12. Just remember, you are only human - and the very fact that you felt guilty only serves as proof that you care if you are doing a good job or not. And I think your husband would rather you play hooky once in a blue moon and stay (relatively) sane than if you ignored that feeling of restlessness until it led to something much worse.

    Have you talked to him about it? Maybe hearing him say that he's not upset will make you feel better. We all get frustrated and fed up and we all need breaks.

  13. I know this much. If you don't take care of YOU once in a while, you won't have anything left to take care of anyone else. So, don't feel guilty at all about taking some much needed time for yourself.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!


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