Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guilty Mom's Syndrome


Since I’m always adding more to the to-do list than is physically capable, I’m not a stranger to the feedback: 

 1) I don’t know how you do it...
And …
 2) Seriously I don’t know how you do it …   

By “it” they are referring to the balancing of life and I’ll tell you like I tell them:

 I don’t do “it” well.  

It’s not to say I don’t try.  I do.  I try very hard.  Every day.  But rarely do I succeed.  I bought a planner to make to do lists and to keep our families’ schedules organized, and then I got an app on my phone as a backup.  Currently, besides those planners, I have the planner at my work desk, then the planner in my purse, then the virtual planner, and the planner’s planner.  

Yet, if you can imagine, I still struggle.  

And with that struggle comes a thousand questions, mainly – “Am I doing this right?” When my children are older, will they resent me because we don’t get home until after 6 and bedtime is 8?  Because in that two hour time slot is everything from cooking to homework to shower time, leaving little for family time in between.  I feel lost.  I feel drained.  I feel guilty.   

My ultimate dream is to find a guilt free balance between all the avenues in my life – the working mom, the soccer mom, the homemaker mom, the writer / designer mom – to be able to prioritize my time, stay focused, on schedule, on task, on demand – all with the accuracy of a skilled surgeon, and looking amazing while completing the daily tasks. (Reminds me, add working out to today’s to do list …)
 
That’s the ultimate goal. 

To have it all, well balanced.  

Here is the truth.
I spend most of my days in chaos.  I have great intentions of making something home made for dinner, but then by 5pm I see the time and suddenly Schnuck’s deli is cooking for me again.  Ninety percent of the time Thomas is wearing his uniform from the previous day because there was no time for laundry.  Each Monday I print the school schedule for the week and as I put it in one of the 19 calendars I have and if I remember in the morning to pack snacks for the afternoon then I am ahead of schedule. 

I’m in awe of parents who seem to never raise their voices or use bribery or whisper threats that I am pretty sure are impossible to enforce – i.e. If you don’t clean your room and take care of your stuff I’ll box it all up and ship it to children in Africa who will appreciate these things. 

Instead I’m the parent who whispers impossible threats, and sadly, bribery is a part of my parenting arsenal. I struggle with "Am I doing this parenting thing right? Is it supposed to be this hard? "It" seriously didn't come with a manual??? OH THE GUILT!!!" I mean, and I the only one whose been embarrased in the supermarket because my child, red faced with anger, is tired of me saying no all the time and wants a cookie and because I made him tardy then it’s the least I can do … Or the one who feels like you've drained your energy trying to get them to listen ... Or I am the one who after he is asleep has made my way into the bathroom to cry for three minutes (and three minutes only we have schedule to keep!) because he started another sentence with, “I know the answer is going to be no, but could you ask your boss if you could be at my ___ “ … fill in the blank with one of 11 school activities for the month.   

I feel like I am disappointing them on a daily basis. 

I have tried to portray myself as the mom who is tough, resilient, capable, and can cope with all that is thrown at her with cat like reflexes.  I strive to be that mom that after a10 hour work day, I have fresh baked cookies for homework time, and no yelling evening time, combined with super creative art projects for down time right before we are reading books together before bed time. 
Nope.  Not me.  Not even in a dream. 

I am a hot mess most days. And I feel the guilt that accompanies that hot mess.  I feel I am not giving my children the life they deserve.  Like I’m not giving them all of me, my time, my energy, my creativity, my heart.  In theory yes, my kids have my heart, completely 100%, but realistically if I am measured by the amount of well balanced time I give them I get a grade of FAIL.  

And here is the reality:  
I have what I refer to as Guilty Mom's Syndrome.  Nothing is ever good enough, we are the hardest on ourselves, we are our worst enemy and biggest critic. 

For example:  Feeling the guilt, I signed up for room mom is attempts to score some brownie points with my son, who, these days can be an unrelenting, confusing, selfish, button-pushing little thing who has learned the power silent treatment has over me.  He's struggling right now with low confidence, and of course, I feel the guilt of that too - so maybe being his room mom will help?  Yet, once I put my name on the line, I seconded guessed everything.  How do I include more meetings / organization / planning into an already chaotic schedule? 

Truth is I would leave my office in a second if he needed me.  I would drop anything to be at his side. His laughter gives me the greatest joy, and I ache with love for him – for him and for Bella.  Their laughter is where my peace in this crazy thing called life lies.  With them, I have “home” and feel complete and it makes the chaos of the day worth every moment of it. 

Still, I feel guilty most days, okay, okay, every day.  But I also know I am working towards a life that they can be proud of.  And I also ensure they know that no matter what the to-do list or calendar says, I will be there.  Flying by the seat of my pants none the less, but I will there.  

I remind myself that I am not alone.  There is no such thing as normal.  That ALL parents, working, stay at home, single, divorced, or married – all of us are attempting to do what’s best for our children.  I remind myself that we all have flaws and mine involve not being good with balancing both work and home, but I am really good at snuggling, stories, and listening.  When needed, I am singing the boo boo song to make the pain go away, and finding “Max” the bedtime toy when he seems to be missing again and someone can’t sleep.  I am not good at making dinner in twenty minutes or less unless it involves a phone call to our local pizza service, but I am really good at being the biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and laughing when the joke isn’t funny, and sneaking in and switching out their tooth for money (or a gift card, whatever my wallet has that evening) even if I don’t remember until 1am after I just got the house cleaned up, my face washed, my teeth brushed, and laid down for the first time since 6am ….  

I am NOT good at balancing my life, but I am really good at being a mom first, and all else second.  No matter what I may think.  Guilt is there and something tells me it’s not going away any time soon.  Good thing I get the most amazing hugs to keep me going … to make "IT" worth it.