Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guilty of Guilt

Today, the bloggers at Silicon Valley Moms, Chicago Moms, New York Moms, and DC Metro Moms Blog are sharing stories about our personal parenting guilt.

Although not unique and certainly shared by several others, I thought I'd share the guilt I have experienced while being a parent.

Mine started right away. About a week after I took that test to confirm I was pregnant.

I'm guilty of hating being pregnant. And it tore me up. How could I hate it? I so desperately wanted this child as did my husband. I was creating a life and I was miserable. And I should have been overjoyed and excited.

My acne flared up to outrageous levels all over my face, chest and back. I couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror. I didn't have the glowing pregnant skin to make me feel beautiful as I created life.

Then the morning sickness began about a week after the pregnancy test. And continued. And continued. E.V.E.R.Y freaking day until 5 weeks before Son's due date. Then it finally started dissipating. Some mornings I didn't make that all so familiar dash to the toilet.

After being dilated 4cm for approximately 3 weeks Son turned breech. He ended up being a planned C-section. After confirming he was breech and realizing I wouldn't get to experience natural birth I said to the doctor, well, fine; since it's a scheduled C, and my due date is in 4 days, let's get him out. But no. My primary doctor was on vacation for a week. And out of respect for HER they would let her do the surgery. But, should I go into labor I was to get to the ER immediately as it would be an emergency c-sec. My last shot at enjoying pregnancy by having that perfect natural birth was gone.

Now, I realize there are WAY more difficult and traumatic pregnancy and birth stories out there. This wasn't meant to come across as whining and complaining. I knew it wasn't all going to be easy and comfortable. But I do feel guilty that I did not enjoy my pregnancy, and not only didn't enjoy it, absolutely hated it. The guilt is still here 9 years after that I did not enjoy being pregnant.

Little did I know that was the first of many parenting guilts.

Parenting guilt also hit big time last year. As a teacher there is a common misconception that teachers have bunches of time off - home early, week at Christmas and Easter, summers off. It sure was a huge lure to me for balancing work and family successfully.

But in reality, a teachers job does not end at 3pm. I spent on average 15 additional hours in the evenings and weekend making tasks for my students, creating lesson plans and activities and completing paperwork.

My husband would come home from his 40 hour a week job and be done. I was never able to do that.

Slowly, that guilt about working so much and juggling that work/family/home life/housework got to me. So much, that last year my PTA hosted Devra to talk about Mommy Guilt at one of our meetings. (This was before I knew Devra too - this may be a big county, but it's still a small world in the end). I wanted to go. I knew I needed to go. But I didn't. I had already spent so much outside-of-work-hours working in the past few weeks that I just couldn't go out in the evening and not spend time from my son one.more.time. So I didn't go.

However, realizing that I had hit a new level of Mommy Guilt and had also not been happy teaching for a few years my husband and I sat down to evaluate our lives.

In the end we decided that working as much as I did wasn't worth it if I was miserable and it was taking that much time away from being a family. We used the remainder of the school year to put away some money. I took this year off to see if I could find something part-time, if it would work financially and find a better balance. We knew we could do it for a year and would revisit the topic after a year.

Well, it's been a year. Financially it's been OK. I've found a part-time job during school hours. I've taken a huge pay cut. We've learned to make several cutbacks and done without. But that's OK. The positives have been incredible! I"m more relaxed. My husband is more relaxed. And our son is thriving. He loves having both his parents available to him once work is done. He loves not having to camp out in my classroom before and after school. There is more time to do housework. There is more time to read with my son and snuggle with him. There is more time to read and take up hobbies. There is more time to, um, blog. And there is more energy for, um, after Son is asleep activities.

We've decided that for us, we aren't going to try to keep up with the Jones anymore. We're downsizing and cutting back. But, we have found a balance of juggling work and family. We have said goodbye to parenting guilt.

**End note - after meeting Devra through DC Metro Moms and sharing with her how I did not attend her Mommy Guilt talk at my school because I was feeling too guilty about time spend away from my Son she convinced me to read her book. I"m glad I did! I had already started making changes to rid that guilt, but her and Avivia's book put the icing on the cake for me.

Original DC Metro Moms Post, also crossposted to MyLifeAsItIs.

1 comment:

Toni said...

I didn't like being pregnant either. I never glowed ONCE. I felt guilty, too. That was only the beginning of the guilt that motherhood brings, I discovered!