Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Yoke of Guilt

Guilt is nothing new to a mother. It's as old as the profession itself. There are different types of guilt, strains if you will, and I am just beginning to discover them.

There's the guilt you feel when you take time for yourself even though you may need it.

The guilt of going back to work, or when you work late, or have to go to work when your child is sick. That guilt used to ping me a lot in my former days.

Then there's the guilt you feel when you are there in their daily life, but aren't always mentally present. They might be playing nearby as you work from home guilt is what I'm talking about. Sometimes I feel guilty just because I am home with her. I felt like that yesterday in the middle of Tot Thyme while my husband works his ass off at two jobs, I'm on a gym floor playing with plastic cheese slices and smiling. I'm laughing as she slides down the slide and he's on a conference call or screaming at a printer or monitor to "just fucking work!" H thinks I need to get over this type of guilt and fast. It did help that he says he sometimes feels guilty when he's not all that busy at work and he knows I'm home trying to type just one sentence while chasing a toddler.

I had an epiphany of sorts last week. I was walking down the stairs of my house, having just put T.D. down for a nap (yes!) and I thought, "Why do I think I need to be working 8-9 hours a day? That's impossible! I am home with T.D. now. I can only work part time. What on earth has been wrong with me?" I figured once I had discovered that little gem of information I would feel less stressed. Not true. Instead, the all-consuming guilt began to put it's heavy, burdensome yoke around my neck and shoulders weighing me down even more. This happens to me way more than when I was working by the way. When I was working outside of the home I was too busy to think properly and had to focus on the job at hand. Now I'm knee-deep in my job each day, along with the job of being a good wife, friend, Bree Van de Kamp style household runner, and oh yeah trying to eek out a writing career.

Obviously, I could probably ease up on trying to be so neat and tidy. I just can't help myself though, and honestly our house isn't that tidy. Yes, I was compelled to organize the t-shirt cubby and the pantry on Saturday, while scrubbing bathrooms. Sometimes I bake like a woman possessed, but I don't wear aprons, and my laundry room isn't even remotely neat and labeled. I wish though.

What it all really boils down to is that inherently in me I've always had issues with being at home. Now that I'm here in the daily mire of it and yes, the joys of it, I'm conflicted. I just can't seem to hand myself over to that domestic mommy. I can't and won't give up trying to write, no one wants me to, but I can't seem to find a balance that sits well with me. I can't seem to cut that yoke of guilt that builds and builds it's weight on me until I practically collapse or have a series of breakdowns and fights with H.

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  1. Anonymous2:56 PM

    how about working 2nd shift?

  2. I know the feeling...I have had that guilt. if I try to get things done during her naps, when do I have time for myself? She's also napping less and less. If I work while she's playing, would I be better off hiring someone who can give her full focus? And if I do, is that any different/better for OUR family than me working outside the home?

    Right now I think the situation is as close to ideal for us as it is going to get, I am still bring in some income but I can be a full time mom...but sometimes I want to do more of my OWN writing and have some ME time.


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