Sunday, March 30, 2008

Guilty as charged

It's commonly known that Jewish mothers are particularly good at instilling the feeling of guilt. What is less known that many Jewish mother (and most likely Gentile as well) are wrought with guilt themselves. As a matter of fact, if someone would ask me to name the most surprising thing about motherhood, I would name "guilt" way before sleepless nights, temper tantrums or pretty much anything else. And not just simple guilt, but guilt about anything and everything: things that are within my control and things that are not, things that are logical and illogical, thing that are consistent and completely contradictory. So here I share the (very incomplete) list of things (from the least to the most) that make me feel guilty as a mother.

... About working full time - I miss my kids when at work, a lot. I often look at their pictures and think about them during the day. Sometimes I miss them so much, I feel a pit in my stomach and want to cry. I feel guilty that someone else is looking after them, wiping away their tears, offering their support, teaching them values and manners and braiding their hair (ok, that only applies to my daughter).

... About counting minutes till their bedtime - when I am with them. No matter how much I miss them during the day, I inevitably grow impatient when putting them to sleep takes too long at night.

... About looking forward to Mondays - on the weekend. Somehow within the first two hours of Sunday, when I am alone with kids most of the day, they manage to push every single button I have, about five times. Pretty much every week they find a new one. And after umpteenth fight over toys/snacks/chairs, non-stop screaming and crying and being climbed on every time I sit down, hectic Monday at work seems like a vacation getaway.

... About not having enough patience - to deal with those fights and screaming and crying and non-stop cleaning and being climbed on and complete loss of privacy... Did I mention I feel guilty about feeling overwhelmed all the time?

... About not giving them the best start in life and cutting corners - not instilling right eating or sleeping habits, not being the best example in many, many things, not reading often enough, not playing with them enough, letting one of them walk around without a pompom on his hat for the past two months...

... About taking "me" time - which often feels like stealing. Do I need it, really? Do I need as much of it? Am I just lazy? Am I selfish to feel that I need more of it when I see so little of my kids as is?

... About not doing my best - doing your best all the time is very draining. Also, not really knowing what "my best" is also draining. I know that I am capable of not yelling at my kids and I also know that my self-control is lacking when tired, so if I yelled in 1 case out of potential 7, did I fail once and did my best six times or did I fail for not shutting up that one time? What's the score overall?

... About feeling guilty - yes, this is the mother of all guilt. Logically I know that guilt is the dumbest and the most useless feeling there is. It accomplishes little and destroys a lot. It can steal all the joy out of one's life and out of precious little moments that make up motherhood. Even though mine is not as overwhelming, it does spoil moods and instills insecurities and worries. I also logically know that twenty years from now I will be looking at myself now, feeling pretty stupid for allowing guilt to mar such a wonderful time of my life. (I might feel guilty about that as well...) That's as far as logic takes me because guilt is still present and is not going away any time soon.

... About writing this blog - that could be time spent so much better (from the practical point of view)! So many shelves could be cleaned, so many more hours could be slept, so much less junk food could be eaten...

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