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On Motherhood Parenting

Kicking Parental Guilt to the Curb

Getting Real with Dynisha Smith

Today I missed my kid’s bus stop. I don’t know about where you live, but here you have to be at the stop to collect your kindergarten student or they are taken back to school.

Thank gosh we are not the last stop or I might have lost it. I was maybe two minutes too late – I saw the bus headed to the next stop, and broke every traffic law short of Baby Driver to get two stops ahead of the bus. And you guys – I cried. Looking back now, I feel kind of dumb admitting that.

The Torture of Parental Guilt

I picked her up and talked her through her own emotions. I reminded her I will always, without fail, short of death (this I said silently) come for her. In that moment though, sitting in my car praying to every deity I could think of to please delay the bus a few minutes because I swear i’ll be a better person – all I could think about was what kind of failure doesn’t make it to the bus stop on time? Why did I go down this street? Why didn’t I run that light?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this kind of guilt over something. If your hand went up, you and I are not alone. Moms and Dads everywhere admit, albeit quietly at first, that they have had at least one moment of complete and utter panic over something to do with caring for their kids. Maybe you forgot your kids lunch, maybe you didn’t arrange transportation for something ahead of time… the list goes on. You let them cry over ‘spilled milk’ – whatever that means for you – until you just gave in. And then you feel like crap for giving in.

It Can’t Keep Going Like This

So what the flip are we supposed to do about this? Tediously I have to repeat myself, I don’t know about you but I cannot continue to live like this for the next thirteen years. Like most other single parents, I have probably come across multiple memes with a damned if you do, damned if you don’t message. Work, stay at home, spend more time with your kids, take better care of yourself, get more education to make more money, make better financial choices – move to another country and assume new alias. Okay that was just my solution – insert shrugging emoji here.

It is so much and it is so daunting. And with all of that off of my chest, I’m proposing a new litmus test for that damn parental guilt. Let’s ask ourselves – in reflection, because let’s be honest, we ain’t gonna remember these in the moment – these simple questions. Is our kid safe? Are their basic needs met? Is the damage irreversible? Can we commit to doing it differently next time? Do they still understand how loved they are? If you answered yes to most of these questions – keep kickin’ ass, your kid is fine, you are fine, and you ARE doing enough.

You ARE doing enough.

Categories
On Motherhood

Motherhood, When Doubt Creeps In

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

In motherhood, when doubt creeps in, it can be difficult to work through.

Is there any mother in the world who hasn’t gotten to the end of the day and wondered if they’ve failed? Or let’s say your child is 18 and getting ready to leave for college. Do you wonder if you’ve done everything you should have to prepare them for the big bad world?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “What if I am failing as a mother?”

How do we know? We don’t get grade books or reviews. There’s no “rate my parent” site to see how we measure up to other moms and dads. And there are no written rules or guidelines to follow.

In the quiet of the house, late at night, I sometimes worry. Did I hover too much and keep my kids from being as independent as they should be? Did I spoil them too much? Did I ignore them too often because of work, exhaustion, or simply needing some peace and quiet? Will they thrive when I’m gone?

There are days when I feel I should have listened more, should have been more patient. And there are days when I catch glimpses of everything amazing that my kids have learned by being my kid, and I am in awe of who they have become. They are awesome, amazing individuals who are prepared to take on every adventure coming their way.

In motherhood, when doubt creeps in, you have to remind yourself that you are good enough, that your love is the most powerful gift you can give your kids, and that they will be ok – and you will be too. Motherhood is not an easy job, but it really is the most rewarding. In those quiet times when you question how well you’re doing, give your kids another hug, give yourself a little love, and know that you’re doing fine.

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Let's Talk Stress Management

Mom Guilt Happens whether you Work or Stay Home

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

My grandmother worked full time. She had to, as a single mom with four kids ten and under. It wasn’t a choice. My mom hated that her mom always worked, so when she had kids, she stayed home full time. While it was nice having our mom at home, we could sometimes feel her sacrifice, and before she died, it was clear that she had perhaps wanted more from her life than to be a stay-at-home mom. Neither my mom nor my grandma were ever without mom guilt. Whatever choice you make as a mom – whatever choice you need to make or have to make, the one thing you need to know is that your kids are going to love you anyway, and they’re going to be just fine.

If you want to stay home full time with your kids and you can afford to do so, your kids will benefit from you being there with them all the time. But they may also make you feel guilty when you’re trapped at home with them every day and it becomes boring and routine. If you have to or want to work full time and have to leave your kids every day, your kids will benefit from the experience of daycare and they will also miss you and you will feel guilty for not being with them.

Mom guilt is just a thing we have to deal with, through every decision to work or stay home, let them go to the party or keep them from a drug-infested dangerous place, let them graduate early or hold them back. Mom guilt is part of everything we do.

So here’s the thing. Whether you have to work, want to work, or need to work for your own sanity, it’s ok. It’s the right choice for you. I’ve done both the working mom thing and the stay at home thing, and now I’m the work full time from home business owner. They all made me feel guilty at times, and they all were what kept me sane at times.

No matter where you’re at with it all, these 4 ideas may help:

 1.      Talk To Your Boss About A Flexible Work Schedule

Did you just have a baby and it changed the way you feel about work, at least in the short term? Talk to your company about a flexible work schedule. Can you work from the office a few days a week and work from a home for the other days? Having a flexible work schedule can enable you to be there with your child when it matters most, say during family emergencies, first smiles, and still maintain your professional connections and career path.

 2.      Don’t Bring Your Office To Home

If you do work full time, leave it at the office as much as possible so that you can truly be there engaged with your kids when you are home. Spend quality time with your kids, and try to have dinner with them each night. Put your phone away. Listen to them.

 3.      Use the Middle Finger in Your Mind

When someone judges you for your decision to work or stay home, mentally flip them off, because it’s none of their business what choices you make for your family. You know what you need and want and must do to care for your kids – and no one else should have the ability to judge you or make you feel guilty for your choices.

4.      Take A Break

If you work, use your vacation time. Take your paid medical leave. Go on vacation with your family. If you stay home but need extra money, work part-time from home or babysit for someone else who has to work and hates to leave their child.

Mom guilt invades our every decision…but in the end, your kids will survive, thrive, and love you no matter what path you take.

Categories
Creating Balance

Guilt, a State of Being

Do you feel guilty as a mom? I do. I feel guilty for spending too much time working and not enough time with my kids. I feel guilty when I’m too tired to engage with my kids and would just rather sneak out onto the front porch with a glass of wine (or, if it was a really bad day, a lemon drop martini, thank you very much). I feel guilty about whether or not I’m making the right decisions about how I’m raising my kids.

How do you manage guilt? I often turn to my sister, confide in her my worries, and seek reassurance. She does the same with me. We often talk about what our mom used to tell us: “Parenting is the toughest and most important job in the world — and the only one that comes with no instruction manual or on the job training!”

Being a parent – being a mom – is tough. It’s harder than any corporate job I’ve ever had. At the end of the day, if the company loses money over a mistake I made, they’ll recover it…but if I make a mistake as a mom…wow. You never really know what the consequences will be.

Unfortunately, worrying about whether or not you are doing a good job as a mom can actually keep you from doing a good job. Ironic, I know….but think about the difference between you, the paranoid first-time mom who went “by the book” and you, the relaxed second-, third-, or fourth-time mom who knew it was ok to let the baby cry for a minute while you went to the bathroom.

I’ll never stop worrying and wondering if I am doing it “right.” I’ll never stop feeling guilty for having to focus on the work that pays the bills instead of sneaking off for an afternoon to play Barbies with my daughter or listening to my son play his drums (ok, so sometimes I don’t feel guilty about that one – they are so LOUD). But I try to reassure myself that as long as I love my kids and make sure they know it every single day, everything else will be all right.