Something has been bugging me since Christmas and it was brought to my attention today, so here I go, getting it off my chest.
My son is in a Mother's Day Out program called Weekday school. It is great, for many reasons, but the most important reason is that it gives me time away from my child and to myself, which I think is very healthy and needed. Not every mom feels that way and that is fine. For me personally, Weekday school is my salvation. 1o hours is not enough time, roughly 5 hours each Tuesday and Thursday, but it is enough.
One of the things that I have been dealing with is mom guilt. I am the sole person responsible for this. No one is making me feel guilty. It is something I do to myself.
It started this Christmas at Weekday school. Of course I brought Carter's teacher's gifts for caring for my son, it was the least that I could do. They do a great job and they love my son. Enough said.
Well, the mother guilt started creeping in when Carter's teacher mentioned they were having a Christmas party and inviting me to attend. She actually called me at home because she forgot to mention it the last time he was at school. Hmmm....do I go, do I not go. I really, truly did not want to go. I had five hours to get a lot of stuff done. I didn't have to bring anything to the party, she just wanted me to know that they were having it.
Thursday rolls around and she mentions, again that they were having the party that day. Well, I told her sheepishly, that if I got everything done in time I would try to come join the party. Inside I was thinking they are having this party at 11:30, smack dab in the middle of the day and it would kill any chance of me getting anything accomplished. And again, so you don't think I am being critical of Weekday school (which I am adamantly NOT!!) the timing of the part made sense because it was before lunch and nap time.
Well, I didn't go. I felt a little twinge of guilt, but really was fine with it. Until I picked up Carter from school. Apparently, some of the other mom's and grandmother's brought gifts to ALL the kids in the class. I let out a sigh. Did Carter bring any presents for anyone......Nope. Except for his teacher.
I left thinking, you know they really need to pass out Weekday school etiquette.
Whenever there is a party thou shalt bring gifts to everyone...you know, something like that.
I am a person that needs things spelled out to her. Just let me know the expectation and I can get it done.
Well, fortunately, not all the mom's brought gifts. So, I felt a little vindicated. Whew. You know, this is a mother's day out program. It is supposed to be bringing me LESS stress. Not all this stuff I have to be thinking of ahead of time.
Well, fast forward to last week. It was Carter's birthday. Did I bake cupcakes and bring them to weekday school, like some of the other moms, so Carter could have a party? No. Did I know that was the norm. NOOOOOO....
So, again, the mother guilt was laid upon me. Did I need to feel guilty. NO. But it is hard when other kid's mom's bring stuff in and you are the mom that doesn't.
Carter's teacher told me she baked some cookies for Carter and was it okay for them to have them. Of course, it was fine. (guilt, guilt, guilt)
So, just when I am getting over that mother lode, I get hit with it again today.
Apparently, Valentines Day is coming up. Carter's teacher and another teacher started talking about Valentines Day when a grandmother brought something in for the party.
Party? What party.
Carter's teacher: "Oh, we're going to have a Valentines party."
My sigh must have been overheard around the world.
Carter's teacher: "ohoohh...we'll have the kids bring in Valentines".
Me: "Okay, is that really necessary? He's two, he isn't going to remember this is Valentines Day, it's too much".
(oops, did I really say that? I was being really nice but inside I was thinking all this is going to do is add something else to my list of things to do, which is why I have my child in Weekday school so that I have time to do the things I need to do and all this is doing is adding to that never ending list......)
The other grandmother piped up and said that is why she brought the Valentine straws in today. She's done, she did her task, etc. Well, I said I could bring in play-doh, as we had a lot left over from Carter's party.
There, that isn't so bad.
Well, then the poor teacher said she would buy the Valentines herself.
Guilt, guilt guilt.....
Me: No, you don't have to do that. Just let me know what I need to bring to the party.
Finally she said the party was really for her. She enjoys it so much that she loves putting them together.
Then they started talking about Easter. Carter's teacher looks at me and says, "Are we getting to far ahead of you, Susan?"
So, then I have to start thinking about what kind of mom am I?
I didn't get married till I was 34 and I had Carter at 37. The dream of getting married and actually having kids was kind of in the back of my mind. I had time to be pretty independent. I even kept working for a while after Carter was born. I work now, I just don't get paid for it. I wear a lot of hats. Guilt is a hat I would rather not have to wear and worry about. So, I am not like a lot of mom's that dreamed of doing all this stuff with their kids. And does that really make a great mom, bringing cup cakes to a party?
No. Some mom's never get the opportunity to do those things for their kids and maybe they want to. Maybe they are single and have to work and miss out on all the parties at school, never being able to be the class mom.
Me, when Carter gets in school, REAL school, of course I want to bring cup cakes for his birthday party and we will fill out Valentines before his Valentine party....in Elementary school when he knows what Valentines day is.
To me, being a great mom is meeting my child's need (and wants, sometimes). Nurturing him, tickling him, spending time playing with him. Loving him.
I think if I asked anyone if they thought my kid was loved and well-rounded, nice to be around and happy I think I would hear a resounding YES!!!!!!!
Now, I think part of the credit should go to temperament. I had little to do with that. But this child is loved and nurtured.
He is considered a blessing.
And just because I don't want to make cup cakes and take them to his weekday school program when he is oblivious that it is even his birthday, doesn't make me a bad mom.
It makes me a mom who is prioritizing what she has to do in a day and what is really important and what really matters. Carter had two birthday parties. One was really big. He didn't miss out on celebrating his birthday.
Maybe one day I will be able to deal with the guilt. But I somehow think there are going to be other things to feel guilty about, just in different circumstances.
I just need to accept the fact that I am not perfect, won't be the perfect mom, and to just love my child and focus on him and not worry about what other people think.
Because that is the bottom line. I am worried about how other people perceive me, that is really what I feel bad about. Not meeting everyone elses expectation of what a mom should look like.
Okay. I feel better now.