Mommy Guilt

As it stands at this current moment, I work a day job, raise a four year old boy, write fiction, and work as a reader for a literary magazine.  That doesn’t take into account the time I spend as a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, an in-law, or a cleaning and organizing machine.  My husband performs a similar juggling act on a daily basis, and we both have some health limitations that get in the way of things changing.  The money situation is a little tough.  We pinch pennies.  We scuttle by from check to check.  We save a pittance every month.

There are people in my life who worry about me.  Or more accurately, they worry about my son, Logan.  They feel like I need a bigger income source to support him and, because they have a ton of faith in me, they honestly believe I could do more with my life.  They say things like “You could be an executive/personal assistant and make more than you make now.” And they would be right.

It’s tempting.  It really is.  But there’s a problem.  I love my job.  Like, really love it.  Like, for the first time in a very long time, I don’t dread coming to work in the morning.  I like the people I work with.  I like the company I work for.  I enjoy the work I do.  I also happen to love the fact that I can do my job in the time between 9:30 and 5:30 with only occasional bursts of overtime.  I’ve done the personal/executive assistant thing.  I’ve done the ‘tied to your blackberry’ thing.  It ate up my life and my sanity.

It would mean no more writing.  Less time for my family.  As it is, I barely scrape together time for either now.  Those two things, especially for a person with a lifelong struggle with depression, are unacceptable losses. So, I stay at my (still nicely paying) job, and don’t push myself much further than that.  Because I think it’s more important for Logan to have a sane mother than a crazy, stressed to the breaking point, shrew.  I need those outlets to continue to be me.

There will probably be few big family vacations.  Logan will not go to a private school.  But he eats three square healthy meals a day and so do we.  All of our extra money is spent on cool little adventures getting him trinkets and things I know he’ll love.  He won’t live an extravagant life, but he has a loving family and he has grown up confident of that fact, knowing that he can count on Mommy and Daddy, his grandparents, his aunts and uncles and cousins – that they will be there for him no matter what.

More importantly, he is a happy boy.  Because his Mommy and Daddy are happy people, despite the struggle it took to get us there.

So, I refuse to feel guilty about my choices in raising my son…

…for at least the next fifteen minutes….

….at least.

8 thoughts on “Mommy Guilt

  1. Mommy guilt knows no bounds sometimes. Good for you for at least trying to kick it to the curb. If you make it past those fifteen minutes, please clue me in on your secret.

    At the end of the day though, I figure money is pretty far down the list of what kids need to thrive. Obviously basic necessities must be met, no doubt about that. But beyond that, they need love and time and care way more than money or extras. And a little creativity can add a few fun frivolities along the way, which you’re already doing. And he’ll have priceless memories of all those times–memories of you being THERE, and being happy with your job instead of miserable and stressed out, and lavishing him with love.

    One of my all-time favorite bits of parenting wisdom was something I found on the internet years ago. I don’t know who said it. But I love it, and I try to remember it when my own mommy guilt rises to the surface. “There is no way to be a perfect parent. There are a million ways to be a good one.” We’re all different, with different family situations and differenct needs and different priorities. And that’s okay. We’re doing the best we can in our own set of circumstances, so we’re all good parents.

    Um, sorry, didn’t mean to go all preachy-sounding. *blushes* I’ll shut up now.

    1. You don’t sound preachy at all! You sound very realistic and you’re speaking from your heart. I think one of the hardest things about being a parent is finding the perfect balance. Which, of course, doesn’t exist. But you try to find that happy medium, to find that place where you are happy, can provide for your child, and your child gets to spend quality time with you. It’s difficult, but I think I may have found it – so, I can’t allow myself to get down on myself. I’m gonna try for another 15 minutes….now! 😉

  2. You have to love what you do for a living. If you don’t, all of the money in the world would be useless thanks to depression and the lack of a feeling of fulfillment. I have been told the same thing…well, different job skills, but the same idea anyways…and it all goes back to loving what you can do and that feeling that you’re making a difference in someone’s life. I didn’t grow up having huge family vacations, but I know some folks that do and, though some are very happy, most are worried about how they will pay for it all. Those folks have bigger paychecks, but also have eyes bigger than their wallets. Thus, they run themselves into debt, living beyond their means – where’s the happiness in that. As for the impact on the kids – sure, they had fun on vacation, in between phone calls from work and life-or-death texts from co-workers. They grow up with that cat’s in the cradle syndrome that’s so prevalent in a society that never slows down long enough to smell the roses because they have to make the money. Fullfillment doesn’t come in dollar bills of pretigious titles – it comes from enjoying what you do and seeing a tiny face light up every time you enter a room because they know their about to get some one on one time.

    1. I agree. Logan has ONE vacation goal in life. He wants to go to Legoland California. And he may just one day, but in the meantime, it’s a cool enough treat to take him to the sprinklers at the local park. That and a good light saber fight is usually enough to make him a happy boy for at least a couple of weeks. And one thing Logan has for sure is time with us. I don’t think he ever feels like he’s missing out on that, except for when I have migraines – but he’s starting to understand that. I think he used to take it personally, but now he understands that Mommy isn’t feeling well – but tomorrow, she’ll spend EXTRA time with him to make up for it. It’s a nice change and it shows that he’s maturing well. 🙂

      1. Oh, my, you get migraines too???? Ugh–I am so there with you. And the mommy guilt can be atrocious on those days when you just. can’t. 😦 (((hugs)))

        1. How did I miss this reply? Yeah, I’m a migraine sufferer. It’s totally true that trying to pick yourself up and dust yourself off on those days is just brutal. *hugs* back at you. At least now we know we feel each other’s pain. It would be better not to have it at all though, of course. 😉

  3. Good for you. You’re right — you should definitely refuse to feel guilty. I get it, though. My ideals are the same as yours, but I, too, fight the guilt that sneaks up on me when I let my guard down. I wish you the best. Mom guilt is a beast like no other.

    1. Thank you so much for the support. I’m sending some back at you. I’m definitely coming down more on the side of happiness for Logan above all things. And money can’t buy happiness, right? Keep your head up fellow Mommy! 🙂

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