There’s so much joy when we become moms. The feeling we’ve never loved so completely and so selflessly. The delicious hugs and sweet, quiet whispers meant only for us. The cuts and scrapes only we can kiss to make better.
They are all divine. Eat them all up! But be warned. There’s another less fun surprise awaiting moms. I call this: Mom’s Perma Guilt. I have tried to tell new moms to brace themselves because they are about to feel guilty all the time. Every waking (and sleeping) moment.
As a mom who works outside the home, I feel guilty when I’m running to the set because I’m missing Miss Stacy’s Tuesday Two’s ballet class.
When I’m running baths and taming cowlicks, I feel guilty about what I left unfinished at my office. And I feel guilty about what I could be doing better everywhere!
When I open my purse at work only to find my first grader’s permission slip (due that morning) still folded inside, I beat myself senseless. I’m a terrible mom!
When I duck out of the office to pick up my 10-year-old son from karate, leaving a dozen work messages unreturned, another self-flogging. I’m a terrible employee!
Then there’s the washer with the errant soap tray that comes flying at my face when I try to add the detergent. Every time I douse myself with sticky blue liquid, the floral-scented bath reminds me that I haven’t called anyone to fix that machine either. Bad human being!
Not too long ago I was sharing (whimpering about) this with a group of moms. We were sitting at yet another choral or clarinet or banjo concert at school waiting (150 years) for our kids to take the stage. I was using the free second not to breathe and relax but to check the work emails that were multiplying like rabbits on my iPhone (and I was feeling guilty about having left work early, obviously).
When I shared my Mom Perma Guilt theory, one mom had an instant tear of commiseration, while another mother quickly told me I’d left out a whole brand of guilt I didn’t know existed. She said: “I feel guilty that I don’t work and my husband has all the pressure to pay every bill!” Another piped in: “I feel guilty that I only work part time! I blew so much on a degree… why?” The list went on. And don’t leave out Dad (Father’s Day is right around the corner). My husband is tortured by the same I-can’t-be-in-two-places-at-once guilt just like me.
It’s exhausting! To me this proves we are all way too hard on ourselves (another way I’m failing).
So I propose that this Mother’s Day we give ourselves the ultimate in luxurious gifts: a break. And while we are at it, give every mother you know one, too.
Forgive yourself. Have a laugh with the mother next to you (and don’t mention that she has grape baby-yo in her bangs.) Because when we are constantly beating ourselves to a pulp about what we aren’t doing, we miss the joy that’s right in front of us every day: the love, pleasure, and laughter that come from the messy imperfect lives we are so blessed to have.