Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother's day is not always Happy...

It’s 9:00 AM on a Friday morning and I am driving to work with tear stained cheeks. I have already cried about three times this morning and I am emotionally drained. In about 20 minutes I will have to walk into my office, so I better pull it together soon. But the sad, lonely look Sophia gave me this morning when I dropped her off at her preschool class flashes across my mind. Guilt washes over me and my eyes begin to blur again with hot, wet tears.

Mommy Guilt is unique for every mom, although I would estimate that 99% of all the moms out there experience it in one form or another. For me, Mommy Guilt is defined as the guilt of being a mommy who hurries off to work every morning before her daughter wakes up and asks her to stay home. The guilt of being a mommy who (GASP) actually enjoys her job and (can’t believe I am going to admit this) does not spend every day longing to be a stay-at-home mom with her two children*. The guilt of being a mommy who was has been so tired that I once offered my husband $100 if he would get up and feed Tallen a bottle at 2:00 AM and let me stay in bed. The guilt of being a mommy who, by the end of the day, is so drained that I have rushed through Sophia’s story time just so I could get her into bed and have a few minutes to go read a book of my own.

Earlier this morning, around 7 AM, I went downstairs to the kitchen to get Tallen’s bottle ready. As I reached for one of the clean bottles that I had left on the counter the night before, I remembered that I had decided to start weaning him from his bottle and switching to a cup. So instead of a bottle, I filled one of Sophia's old training cups with formula.

Back upstairs in Tallen’s room, I lifted him out of his bed and laid him on his changing table. Once I had changed his shirt, I handed him the cup. For the past few weeks, we have only offered him water in his cups so this was the first time he was actually drinking formula. He took the cup, put the spout in his mouth and gummed on it for a minute before he thrust it back at me. This happened about three times before he realized I was giving him something other than water to drink.

After changing him, I sat down in the chair and laid Tallen across my lap while he finished his cup. It suddenly hit me that in just a few weeks, my baby boy will turn One and I officially have a toddler. This "baby window" is slowing closing and I will not have many more chances to sit here in the mornings, feeding my baby a bottle. For the first time that morning my cheeks grow hot with tears. My baby boy is growing up. I am going to miss this.

I take Tallen into Sophia's room to wake her and her eyes light up with excitement when she sees that I am home.

"No school today?" she asks.

"Oh Sweetie, you still have school today. I am home so I can take you to school this morning. I am going to go have breakfast with you and all of your friends." Today is Muffins with Mommy at her preschool and I am going into work late so that I can share a blueberry muffin and apple juice with my little girl.

Whenever Sophia wakes up before I leave for work in the morning, it throws off her schedule and this morning is no exception. I have to raise my voice more than once while trying to get her ready for school. I count to three then try to make a game out of getting dressed but my patience is wearing thin. Tears sting my eyes when I hear myself yelling at her for the third time that morning and I hate hearing the frustration in my voice.

Soon we are holding hands and walking into her preschool. Sophia takes me to her room and gives me a handmade card and two fresh flowers. After I squeeze myself into one of the tiny chairs at the child size table, we eat breakfast together with two of her friends. Finally, I walk her to her room and give her a hug goodbye. She runs away from me and tries to hide in the corner, yelling that she does not want me to leave. We are both in tears at this point and one of her teachers come out to coax her into the classroom. She finally agrees to go pick out a book and join her friends in the circle on the floor but that sad look she gives me when I start to walk away breaks my heart again.

After I pull into the parking garage at work, I check my makeup in my visor's mirror. A little bit of lipstick helps me look presentable and I take a deep breath as I get out of the car and head towards my office. I look down at the hand made card from Sophia in my hand. It is covered in finger paint and pink glitter and inside it reads "Happy Mother's Day, Love Sophia." Finally, for the first time today, being a mommy brings a smile to my face...

*I am not looking for a debate here on stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) vs. working moms here. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my children and I look forward to seeing them every day but being a working mom is what works for me and my family.


Devra and Aviva said...

First we're going to admit we're doing a "drive by" as we came across your post via our google alert for "mommy guilt." We hope you won't mind us barging in on your blog.
Maybe we can absolve your guilt. First off, your guess that 99% of moms feel guilt is very close to what we found to be true, which is 96%.: ) Also, we found that the level of guilt moms feel is the same, regardless of employment status. So this totally takes the steam out of any argument that being at home or being at work is "best." Moms will feel the guilt anyway, just for different reasons. It seems our society, and the media, puts out the message to parents that if you love your work, you love your kids less. This is ridiculous. Whatever we do as parents, we are teaching our kids about what it is to be an adult. Some adults got to work, some adults work at home, and still others do some of both. None of this means we have a diminished love for our children or that we are any "less" of a committed parent. We all love our kids, we all have the best intended for them, and we're all muddling through this parenting thing, none of our parental predecessors were perfect, and we're better off embracing our imperfections than feeling lousy about them.

You've expressed the angst many parents feel, but at the same time, you've underscored the importance of being yourself. Seems to us you are doing a fabulous job as a mom, and tears are going to happen from time to time, they're just reminders that we give a damn.

Happy Mother's Day, belated, we hope you will look back on this post next year and give yourself a hug and a high five for doing things more "right" than wrong.

Mom said...

Hey Stephanie,

I know it is hard, but don't feel guilty about being able to have a life with both career and kids. You being a happy, talented mother is what your kids are going to admire everyday and that is what creates a good role model for your kids. It wouldn't benefit them to have a cranky stay-at-home mom who really wants to be a working mom. So although we have days of guilt like you had today, know that you are creating the best life for you and your family!

Bente (we met at lunch through Denise when I was in Dallas)

Stephanie said...

Devra and Aviva - thank you for your kind words and support for all of the "working moms" out there. I am doing my best to be a role model for both of my kids and love them very much!

Bente - I was so happy to hear from you. I know you have experienced the same demands from your career so I really appreciate your comments about working moms. Good luck with baby #3!