We’ve all experienced the mom-guilt at one point or another. It rears it’s butt-ugly face in different situations for each of us, and it can suck the life right out of you, leaving you feeling totally alone and utterly defeated.
And the mother inside tells you it will all be okay, to take a few deep breaths, and that things will be better in the morning. But right there, in the moment, there’s nothing anyone can say to make the mom-guilt go away.
Tonight, my daughter wanted me to take her to bed. She wanted me to read to her and sing her a lullaby. She wanted me, not Daddy.
But tonight, I wanted to have some time to myself. I wanted to curl up with a glass of wine, some soft music and relax. I wanted my mommy time and I wanted it badly.
And my daughter cried. She cried hard.
And I fell. I fell into the guilt. And it was deep. And I’m still here, in the mom-guilt.
I resented her fiercely, but I caved in on myself. I took her to bed, pushing my selfishness down into my stomach to make her happy.
I put her pyjamas on and brushed her hair. She said she was hungry, so I got her a graham cracker. And I cried while she ate.
She asked why I was making a sad face.
“Sometimes, I don’t feel like a very good mom.”, I said.
“But your the best mom I ever had!”, she said.
“And it’s not because you’re going older, it’s who you are.”
And I cried. I cried hard.
She broke my heart and fixed it, all in one sentence. And that’s what being a mom is.
Sometimes, it hurts so bad I can’t breathe, but I keep doing it, because she needs me.
She needs me to be there for her me to show her things, like how to write her name, how to pour her own juice, or how to flip a grilled cheese sandwich. She needs me to tell her to turn the volume down and that she’s been on the iPad long enough. She needs me to say no and mean it and to hug her when she’s sad or hurt. She needs me to tell her that I love her.
She’s asleep now and I’m still crying.
I’m crying for the mistakes I’ve made and for the times I didn’t take her to bed. I’m crying for the naps I took when I was pregnant with her brother, and the nights I went out with friends. I’m crying for yelling at her and for not wanting to play. I’m crying for being so very tired. I’m crying for me and for her.
And my heart breaks again, and again, and again.
It’s starting to slow down now. It’s starting to pass. My mascara is running, and my face is puffy. The mom-guilt’s seeping away into my pores, with the day’s make-up, and I’m starting to breathe again.
I close my eyes and think of her snoring softly upstairs and of how she didn’t brush her teeth nearly long enough. I think of her dreaming, and worry that “The Ugly Ducking” might have scared her.
She’ll probably wake me up in the middle of the night again. And I’ll let her take my spot in our bed, and I’ll sleep on the couch again.
No wine tonight. No more tears now, Mommy. Time for bed.